Receive a speeding ticket and have to appear in court? You can now sign up for the state’s new eReminder program that notifies you via text or email of your upcoming court date.

The new eReminder notification program is available for eight major case types – adult criminal, adult traffic, juvenile delinquency, juvenile traffic, juvenile petty offense, domestic abuse, family eviction and juvenile protection.

Chris Karpan from Chris Karpan Law in Alexandria isn’t necessarily a fan of the eReminders.

He said, “Hire a good lawyer and they’ll remind you when your court date is and you can use your phone for what it was intended for, posting pictures of cats on the internet.”

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea feels differently.

“Hearing eReminders have been shown to improve hearing attendance and reduce the number of bench warrants for failures to appear,” she said.

Hearing eReminders were piloted in Hennepin County District Court for 18 months. During that time, bench warrants for failures to appear dropped by 25 percent, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website, mncourts.gov. From July 2017 through January 2019, parties who received some form of hearing eReminders – text or email – were 35% more likely to show up to their hearings.

In most cases, two reminders will be sent – a reminder three days before the hearing, and another one day before the hearing. Reminders are sent only one day before the hearing for eviction cases and only three days before the hearing for adoption cases.

Enrollment in eReminders is an optional courtesy service to help people remember to appear for a scheduled hearing, but does not replace an official notice to appear, according to Jeff Shorba, state court administrator for the Minnesota Judicial Branch. People will still need to follow instructions from the court for all required appearances.

To enroll in the program, persons must be a party in the case. Witnesses, victims and attorneys are not considered parties and are not eligible for the eReminders.

How to enroll

To enroll in the eReminder program, people will need their case number. The cell phone and email address provided during the enrollment process will be used for corresponding. Reminder notices for appellate court hearings, however, will not be sent through the eReminder program. Failure to receive a text or email reminder does not excuse failure to appear for a court hearing, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.