Online ticket payment proves helpful

Jan. 11, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

A relatively new online traffic ticket payment system has lightened the load of court workers while also making matters easier on locals — all while bringing in more than $100,000 in 2012, according to recently released data.

Active in Lee County for about a year and a half, allows anyone who gets a traffic citation in the county to pay online instead of at the court house, which also allows them to pay with a credit instead of cash, certified check or money order, which are the only payment forms allowed in person.

Lee County Clerk Susie Thomas said there is a small fee on the online payments, but the cost is worth it in the gas and time saved from having to drive to the courthouse, not to mention the ability to pay on credit instead of with cash.

According to a news release from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the change has also saved court staff across the state somewhere in the range of 7,600 hours of work, of which Thomas said Lee County has had its fair share.

“It’s less paperwork for us to do in our office,” she said. “It’s more efficient, so it lets my clerks work with other citizens on other matters.”

She said she’s not sure if the online system has led to more people paying their traffic tickets because of the ease of access and less stringent payment methods, since the program began in the midst of an economic downturn.

“It’s kind of hard to tell,” she said. “And with the budget the way it is, and the economy, we have a lot of tickets not being paid at all.”

In 2012, Lee County had 428 tickets paid online, amounting to $100,017. Chatham County had 772 tickets paid, totaling $187,477. Moore County had 1,059 tickets paid for $241,330.50, and Harnett County had 1,100 tickets paid for $259,987.50. Statewide, 123,143 tickets were paid online for a total of $28.9 million.

The exact amount of money each county received in total from traffic citations last year wasn’t readily available, but on average, according to the release, more than 55 percent of tickets given out in North Carolina are now paid online. Most of the money goes to the state’s General Fund and to local government agencies, while some stays in the court system.