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When an officer issues a citation, it's a routine procedure in most instances. The officer checks the driver's license, fills out appropriate information and then provides the driver with the citation. The officer leaves and, in many cases, the ticketed driver pays the citation fee and life goes on.
But sometimes, the citation is issued to the wrong individual.
According to court services director Steven Cherry of the Grand Prairie Municipal Court in Texas, there are individuals who dispute citations regularly saying they were victims of an identity thief.
In these instances, a citation was issued to an individual who was not even in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop.
"We used to get individuals coming in and saying that they were issued a citation that they should not have received," Cherry said. "Now when that happens, we can look through our system at the photo taken by our ticket reader device used by the officer and determine if the claim is true or not. When they are telling the truth, the photos help prove that they really weren't the ones on the hook for the ticket."
According to Cherry, in these instances, friends or family – and in some instances, strangers – are using a stolen driver's license, so the citation is issued to an undeserving individual. Luckily, police officers with the Grand Prairie PD use ticket readers with cameras, so photos of drivers and any other pertinent evidence or information can be taken when a citation is issued.
"Before we had a device capable of taking a photo of the individual receiving a ticket, we had no way of proving the claim," Cherry said. "But now, we can look right at the evidence and say, 'wow, you are correct.'"
With photos accompanying electronic citations, tickets issued in Grand Prairie are given to the appropriate individuals. That means if a ticket initially went to the wrong person due to driver's license theft, photos taken during the citation process ensure that the appropriate individual receives the citation.
"Prosecutors always praise us for taking the extra steps necessary to collect evidence," Cherry said.
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