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Magistrate courts to charge convenience fee on credit/debit transactions

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Article by: William Dean, The Dominion Post

Starting Feb. 24, all credit and debit card transactions made in magistrate courts across West Virginia will have a 2.25% convenience fee added.

Courts were originally supposed to start charging the convenience fee Saturday. However, the surcharge has been delayed an additional week, according to Monongalia County Magistrate Court Clerk Kandy McCauley.

Jennifer Bundy, public information officer for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, said the delay is so the new credit card acceptance system can be further tested.

“It is an increase, because of the fee that’s attached to your card,” McCauley said.

Bundy said there has always been a fee associated with paying using a card but didn’t know what that fee was without doing more research.

The law that governs magistrate court payments, West Virginia Code §50-3-2(A)(a), states in part, “Any charges made by the credit company shall be paid by the person responsible for paying the cost, fine, forfeiture or penalty.”

That code section was last updated in 2002, according to Drew Ross, director of the West Virginia Legislature Office of Reference and Information.

The language requiring the person making a payment with a credit card to pay the fee has been in the law since it was enacted, Bundy said. The state Supreme Court is making the change to the fee to comply with the law.

The 2.25% fee means a $200 fine, the minimum for a first offense driving without insurance, will cost $204.50.

A $675.25 required payment to the court will cost $690.44 under the new system, an increase of $15.19, according to an informational flyer posted in magistrate court.

McCauley said, “most forms of payment” are accepted by the court, including cash, debit and credit cards, money order and check.

Other forms of payment do not have the convenience fee.

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