Local

Video traffic court available for rural Fresno County cities

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Starting next week, drivers who get tickets will be able to face a judge by video in Coalinga and Mendota.

Beginning next week, a traffic court commissioner in Fresno will spend two days a week handling tickets with motorists he doesn't actually see in person.

Honorable Arlan Harrell said, "The traffic judge and other court personnel will remain here in Fresno. A judicial assistant, including an interpreter if needed, will appear at the remote site with the motorist, and any witnesses for the motorist."

The option will save motorists an hour-long drive into Fresno and also cut back on overtime costs for officers who are currently forced to drive to Fresno to handle one ticket at a time.

CHP Officer Matt Drewry said, "Our officers now are taken off of their beat for at least a minimum of three hours a shift an often times it could happen two to three times a week."

Court officials say they are starting the pilot program with traffic cases since these hearings are relatively simple, short and in high demand.

Motorists who are eligible to fight their tickets using the remote video proceedings must first fill out a request form before the appearance date listed on the ticket.

It's up to the driver to decide whether they want to take care of the ticket in one appearance or be arraigned and tried the same day. Much of the court process will be identical to the way it is now.

Honorable Gary Hoff said, "There is a recording device that takes down what is being said by all parties, and we'll have that record just like we would in any other traffic case."

Each location will have a wide screen camera, large monitor and microphones so each party can see, hear and talk through the audio visual connection.

If the program is a success, court officials are hoping to expand this service to handle other cases throughout Fresno County.

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court, coalinga, mendota, fresno county, fresno, local, sontaya rose
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