State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 97-01
May a municipal court in conjunction with the city department of administration services enter into a marketing agreement with a credit card company to process payments for fines over the phone through a proposed interactive voice response system, whereby the credit card company would place its logo on citations and citation envelopes?
The court did not initiate this arrangement rather it was seen as a revenue enhancement mechanism by other branches of city government.
The credit card company would pay for envelopes and give a donation to a charity designated by the city.
The credit card company would design envelopes to accompany parking and traffic citations. The envelopes will promote the use of payments by the credit card and the new voice response system. The city and court will not promote or conduct any program related to any other credit, debit, payment card or travelers cheque during the program period. This provision will not prohibit the city or court from accepting other credit, debit, payment card or travelers cheques for payment during the program period.
RCW 3.02.045(2) provides that courts of limited jurisdiction may use credit cards or debit cards for billing and collecting unpaid penalties, fines, costs, assessments and forfeitures imposed.
Moreover, IRLJ 2.1(a) provides that infraction cases shall be filed on the Notice of Infraction form prescribed by the Administrator for the Courts. Any changes to the infraction form would have to be approved by that office.
Nothing in this opinion is intended to preclude the municipality’s law enforcement from informing individuals about the availability of this service.
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