Delaware Courts Install Self-Payment Kiosks at DMVs to Help Residents Avoid Jail Time for Minor Infractions

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    As the national conversation on incarcerating people for minor infractions begins to grow, the Delaware Courts have made it much easier for residents to pay small fines and fees without being jailed.

    According to Delaware Online, all four Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices in Delaware now have self-payment kiosks, which will allow residents to pay court-ordered fines, child support, and miscellaneous tickets on their own accord.

    In recent years, many Americans have rejected the notion that poor people should be punished for failing to pay small fines, which ends up creating a vicious circle of needless imprisonment. The new self-payment kiosk initiative comes after the U.S. Justice Department cautioned state court systems against jailing people for minor offenses, such as failing to pay a parking ticket.

    Since many people are turned away from getting a new license at the DMV due to outstanding court payments, it made sense to install the kiosks in these facilities.

    “It’s all about convenience,” said William DiBartola, collections administrator for Delaware’s Office of State Court Collections Enforcement. “Whether you are the average person or someone with a checkered past, there is always some type of anxiety about going to the courthouse. We are trying to make it more available to the public.”

    Approximately 79% of custodial mothers receive monthly child support payments, and many depend on this money to care for their children. While most agree that missing a child support payment should be punishable, Americans have grown tired of their friends and family being thrown in jail because of one missed payment.

    In fact, the issue of people being jailed for failing to pay child support may be more pervasive than some are led to believe. As Dr. Helen’s Blog noted, about 50,000 people are in jail on any given day in the U.S. for child support arrears.

    “Our collaboration with the court to offer our child support customers another method of paying support is a huge step forward,” said Ted Mermigos, director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement. “We are always looking for better ways of doing business and to bring convenience to our customers.”

    In 2010, Delaware was actually one of the first states to test this kiosk system on any level, installing them in the Department of Correction’s offices in New Castle and Seaford. In 2014, another self-payment kiosk was placed at the DMV office in Dover.

    If the success rates from these pilot programs are any indication, this new initiative should be wildly successful. There were more than 6,000 more transactions at the Dover kiosk in 2015 than there were in 2014, which proves that residents are embracing this technology.

    While the punishments for delinquent court-ordered payments have not changed, it is certainly easier than ever for Delaware residents to pay their fines and child support.