Up to 3,000 traffic cases in Vermont may be affected by the state Judicial Bureau’s outdated computer system, essentially causing the Green Mountain State to temporarily stop prosecuting one of its most common crimes.
The antiquated system has muddled the lines of communication between the bureau and the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), therefore preventing the two departments from exchanging information about suspended driver’s licenses in a timely manner.
The VT DMV maintains the database of offenses accessed by the state’s police during roadside stops, which could lead to the officer reading the wrong information about an individual’s driving record while he or she is pulled over.
Further complicating the issue are the laws surrounding Vermont’s suspended license policy. The Justice Bureau will handle suspended license cases and process the traffic tickets for up to five offenses, but from the sixth infraction on, the issue becomes a criminal court matter.
However, Vermont allows an individual to have some prior offenses removed from their license if they complete court-diversion programs, which often include community service or paying off fines.
The drag in the information exchange can therefore have a suspended license case sent to the wrong department.
Vermont officials estimated that the computer system issue affected only criminal suspended driving charges issued since July 1, 2014, at which point the law allowing for individuals to pay a fine in order to erase infractions from their record went into effect.
While officials said the Vermont legislature is working on reforming the issue, it was unclear when or how the state would update its Justice Bureau computer system.