The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts announced this week that more than
$100 million in traffic penalties and other court-related fines were collected electronically by the judiciary in the past two years since the implementation of the online payment feature known as “e-pay.”
The system appears to be an increasingly popular method of choice for defendants who are required to pay court-ordered fines, fees, costs and restitution.
In 2011, $1 out of every $17 collected by Pennsylvania courts came in via e-pay, while the following year that figure increased to $1 out of every $10, according to the AOPC.
Throughout the first quarter of 2013, the number was $1 in every $8.
Court officials have stated that they believe the convenience of the online payment option has been a contributing factor in an increase in the number of court-ordered collections.
“By providing an easy way to settle court-ordered costs, defendants can avoid future court action such as warrants or contempt of court proceedings, driver’s license suspensions and/or additional collection agency fees,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in a statement.
The AOPC stated that annual court collections have increased slightly throughout the past half-decade, while total case filings throughout the state have declined a total of 13 percent during that same time frame.
Only a small portion of revenue collected by the courts goes back into the state judiciary, with most of the funds being distributed among state and local governments, as well as to victims.
By December 2011, all Common Pleas criminal and magisterial district courts across the commonwealth were offering the e-payment option to defendants, according to the AOPC.
The electronic payment system is “online and fully integrated with both the magisterial district and Common Pleas criminal court systems, creating a one-stop shop for defendants to make multiple payments on the Internet with a single transaction fee of $2.75,” reads a news release from the AOPC.
Castille, the chief justice, said that the e-pay feature is an example of the court system using technology to “improve court management, cut court costs and provide conveniences for court users.
“E-pay saves time for the public and court staff by allowing the public to make court payments from home, while eliminating the need for court staff to enter payment data into the court’s computer systems,” Castille said in his statement.
The e-pay system can be accessed by visiting http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/Default.aspx.