Pay your traffic fine without waiting in line

HOUSTON Like so many Houstonians with tickets, Jamal Muhammad has to take time out of his day head to Houston's Municipal Court downtown and pay the fine for a recent speeding citation.

"It took me like two hours -- it took me a long time -- and all I had to do was come pay a fine," Muhammad said. But life in the future is about to change.

"With the deployment of our new payment kiosk, that's no waiting at all," Houston Municipal Court House Spokeswoman Gwendolyn Goins said.

Rather than waiting in line to pay a fine for speeding or parking tickets, you can put your money, or a credit card, in the kiosk. Users must pay a $2 convenience fee.

"It's very user friendly. It takes the guess work completely out of using it, and it processes you in just a matter of minutes," Goins said.

Right now, a kiosk in the basement of the municipal courthouse is the only one up and running, but more may be rolled out during the year.

"That's another layer of choices that customers will have available to them," Goins said.

Officials also are planning to add them to shopping centers and grocery stores.

"This will just be the beginning," Goins said. "This is phase one of multiple pilots that we will have, starting with our department; and then we move to other departments and then we'll move citywide hopefully."

These kiosks aren't cheap. Each unit runs around $19,000, but Goins believes the benefits to taxpayers will outweigh the cost.

"So they can be out and about anywhere and happen to see one of these city kiosks and hopefully be able to pay not only a traffic citation, but a permit for code enforcement or even a library fine," she said.

It wasn't soon enough for Muhammad, but he likes the idea for the future.

"If somebody can easily just come in, just swipe and be gone, it would be easy," he said.

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