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Paying Extra For Traffic Tickets

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Just when you thought paying a traffic ticket with a payment plan was the way to go, the state is charging you a little extra.

"If they have a hearing in the court room then the judge, advises them then if they can set it up on a time payment, but there will be a $10 fee," said Jacki Lahtinen, Court Administrator for The Benton County District Court.

A $10 one time fee, court staff say they can't be blamed for, because it comes from the Revised Code of Washington.

"We didn't make it up in our court, it's state wide," said Lahtinen.  

But this law is nothing new, it has been in effect since July 1st 2005. We talked to 10 people paying tickets on Friday, and none of them knew about it. Some of them were unpleasantly surprised.

"Because we have to pay the ticket to begin with, why should we have to pay the $10?", said Taylor Ivy, who was paying a ticket.

Taylor Ivy was paying a speeding ticket for $144 in full, but that's not the case for everyone. One man owed $1,400 and makes payments of $75 a month.

"I don't know why they want 10 more dollars, there's a lot of people here paying fines, so you'd think they have enough money anyway," said Rick Paullus, who was making a payment.

The Benton County District Court says the money goes to municipalities. Which means the city or county where the infraction happened is cashing in.

Money Paullus thinks could potentially go up.

"They'll probably change it, but they'll probably add to it, it will probably be 25 dollars next time with everything else that's going up," said Paullus.

But no too worry the law says the state can't charge you more than $25 per payment plan. Still court staff say their hands are tied.

"They have an option, they can pay it in full, so if they come to the window and aren't happy about the 10 dollar fee, they can pay it off in full then," said Lahtinen.

Kennewick police say in 2007, this $10 fee brought in a little over $16,000. But the money isn't exactly staying in the city, it's going back to the district courts through other payments.