To help streamline DWI enforcement efforts, more counties in Minnesota are considering adopting the e-charging system. This electronic system, which is currently used in Otter Tail County and most metro counties within the Twin Cities, will now soon be implemented in Wadena County. Other counties that will soon likely adopt the system are Todd, Douglas, and Morrison counties.
Wadena will soon be among Northern Minnesota’s first counties to install the system in its squad cars which will be linked directly to the courthouse. A meeting held on Oct.19 made the commissioners aware of the forthcoming system installation.
What is the e-Charging System?
The four part e-charging system facilitates the electronic processing of criminal complaints for individuals charged with driving while impaired, various citations, incident referrals, as well as DWI administrative forms. The e-charging system makes it possible for police departments and deputies of the county sheriff to forward DWI and other citations and traffic tickets electronically straight to the courthouse from their squad cars. The prosecutors have the capability to process warrants and summons electronically, and are able to easily submit complaints to the courts.
Through the e-charging system, the law enforcement records clerks can also refer DWI incidents to the offices of prosecutors for the purpose of preparing criminal complaints. In addition, this system makes the law enforcement officers capable of electronically submitting the necessary DWI paperwork for DWI stops to the state.
State wide goal
According to reports, most Minnesota counties are taking the initial steps to implement electronic complaints and e-ticket charging. In 2014, the e-charging system is expected to be used statewide. The electronic system aims to ultimately have a paperless judicial system in Minnesota by electronically transmitting data from police squad cars straight to county courthouses. In Wadena County alone, the paperless judicial system along with reduced staffing is estimated to save the county around $100,000 each year.
e-Charging System Implementation
Reports indicate that the hardware for the e-charging system is already installed in squad cars in Wadena County. The only remaining steps to take for the system to be fully functional is the purchase the software program, having the software installed and getting services in place for the maintenance of the system.
From a criminal defense attorney’s perspective, this new system seems to make a lot of sense. In the past, on occasion, my office has been forced to wait for police officers to submit their paper work (i.e. narrative statements of the incident) to their respective prosecutor’s offices prior to us being given access. It is our goal to obtain police reports on behalf of our clients as quickly as possible to allow us to review the report with our client when the incident is still fresh in their minds.
In addition, when an individual is arrested and held in jail without bail, quite often a Minnesota Criminal Lawyer is contacted to try to obtain their release. This requires contacting the prosecutor and judge to request bail being set or for the individual to be released on their own recognizance. It is imperative that Minnesota Criminal Attorneys , prosecutors and judges have all the information surrounding the incident from the police as quickly as possible in order for an informed decision to be made with regard to setting release conditions. My hope is that the e-charging system helps facilitate this as well.