Those who are cited for a traffic violation in Carroll County can dispute their citations online or request a payment plan as part of a new pilot program.
The new system is expected to save time and money and will level the playing field for residents who don’t want to hire an attorney to resolve their tickets.
“Having a prosecutor review a traffic citation before trial should not just be for those who hire lawyers,” said County Attorney John Werden, the local prosecutor who volunteered to test the program.
The so-called “online dispute resolution” program is voluntary, and directions to access it are provided on the paper citations. Carroll is the only county currently testing it.
Here’s how it works:
— Residents go to the dispute resolution website and enter their driver’s license number and date of birth to search for outstanding and eligible citations.
— Citations can be paid outright, or they can be requested for review by a prosecutor.
— Drivers can dispute the citation and submit a typed statement and other evidence of why the charge should be reduced or dismissed. They also can accept the citation but request a monthly payment plan to spread the cost.
— If disputed, the system initiates a back-and-forth between the driver and prosecutor. A prosecutor reviews what was submitted and can approve an amended charge, dismiss the charge, agree to a payment plan, request more information from the driver or reject the review.
— The driver gets final say on agreeing to the prosecutor’s offer, and a judge completes the process by approving or denying the deal.
“When the (Iowa) Supreme Court asked for a county to participate, I was the first to say ‘yes’ because I see this as moving us forward to serve the public and add efficiency to my office,” Werden said.