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  • Posted October 16, 2017

Traffic court website update will take system offline several days

San Diego's traffic court computer system will be off-line for up to two weeks, starting at the end of the day on Wednesday, Oct. 18, for upgrades. Customers will have to make other arrangements for paying tickets or setting court dates.

The San Diego Union Tribune

Pauline RepardContact Reporter

Pay that traffic ticket now.

At least, don’t put it off until next Wednesday.

That’s when, at 5 p.m., the San Diego Superior Court Traffic and Minor Offense Division is to go offline for several days for some badly needed computer system upgrades.

While the system is down, people won’t be able to log onto the traffic court website to pay a citation fine, schedule or change a court appearance date or sign up for traffic school.

They will have to take care of business the old-fashioned way: Mail in a check, call staff on the phone, or walk in and stand in line with hundreds of other people.

That goes for all four traffic court locations in Kearny Mesa, Vista, El Cajon and Chula Vista.

“Plan ahead,” advised court Executive Officer Michael Roddy.

Court administrators hope their new system, called Odyssey, will be up and running on Oct. 24. People can then return to using the website as usual.

The court processed 240,000 traffic citations last year from around the county.

Odyssey will replace a 30-year-old system built in a computer language that no longer exists, Roddy said.

“The IT people are disappearing fast, who know that language,” he said. “We have some senior citizen IT people who want to retire.”

The current system also doesn’t track how many people are going online for service, or what services are most popular. Odyssey will do that.

There will be other new features — including one that may not please everyone. Appointments will be required for all traffic court appearances in El Cajon, Vista and Chula Vista, just as they have been at Kearny Mesa for more than a year. No more dropping in and waiting to be added to that day’s court calendar, a process that sometimes takes four to six hours.

The goal, said Roddy, is “online rather than in line. With appointments, people are out of there in 10 to 15 minutes.”

However, Roddy acknowledged that not everyone is computer-savvy.

“We still have people who want to pay in cash, who want to talk to a live person, who want to talk to a judge,” he said.

Also going away under Odyssey is a customer’s ability use a phone keypad to enter a citation number and credit card number to pay for a ticket. Payments will have to be made online, or by mail, or by calling the court and giving credit card information to a clerk.

Eventually, features will be added to allow the pubic to view a copy of their citations online and track action on their cases, such as payments received. Cellphone apps to access ticket information may be developed.

“As we start to get a database, we’ll tell the public that you can now view your ticket. Going forward, we’ll scan in tickets,” Roddy said.

A major bonus with Odyssey, Roddy said, is that some police departments are looking ahead to electronic citations — typing them on digital notebook instead of a paper one. They could then download the ticket directly to the court.

Roddy said the city of Escondido, in particular, wants to go electronic.

“We’re not able to do that now because our system is outdated. Many courts are moving toward this technology,” he said. “Better, faster, cheaper.”

pauline.repard@sduniontribune

Twitter: @pdrepard