Some Wisconsin State Police cars now have extra equipment: point of sale terminals for paying speeding tickets.
In a pilot test that MasterCard International and the police announced last week, the cars are carrying hand-size wireless terminals for speeders' cards to be swiped through.
Only Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards are being accepted.
The transactions are to be processed in six to eight seconds through Elan Merchant Bank in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin is one of six states that require officers to bring out-of-state motorists to court when ticketed for moving violations - unless they say they will not contest the charges and will pay the fines with credit cards or certified checks.
Check payments require an escorted visit to a bank, and even those willing to pay by card have had to wait while an officer radioed in the data for verification.
A trip from the main interstate highway to the local courthouse in Kenosha County, where the pilot is being run, could take half an hour, said Capt. Bob Bereiter of the Wisconsin State Police.
For the six-month pilot program, 10 patrol cars have been equipped with Lipman Nurit 2090 mobile terminals with a built-in printer. BellSouth Wireless is providing network service.
"MasterCard has had a primary focus on the public sector for six years now," said Lisa Brzecki, vice president of new markets at MasterCard, which is providing the terminals. "The pilot gives us the opportunity to really study and see the impact."
After the trial, MasterCard will write a case study to determine the benefits.
Mobile terminals have been around for a while, Ms. Brzecki said, but until now they have been unreliable and cumbersome. "The new version addressed these problems," she said.
The program began July 1 and will continue through December. It is too early to gauge the pilot's success, Capt. Bereiter said last week, but "so far the troopers think it is wonderful."
The electronic terminals may also encourage in-state drivers to pay their fines at the patrol-car level, he said. "There is no bond for residents of Wisconsin," Capt. Bereiter said, "but now that people know about this, they might ask to pay right away."
Card payment is accepted only for civil forfeiture, the legal category that moving violations fall under, Capt. Bereiter said. For crimes, such alcohol-impaired driving or vehicular homicide, a card payment is not an option. "You'll be going to jail," he said.
He stressed that ticket revenue does not go directly to the Police Department.