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HANDLING FINES WITH PHONE CALL : COUNTY COURTS SET UP PUSH-BUTTON PAY SYSTEM.

Byline: Ann-Marie Sanchez Daily News Staff Writer

Paying for a traffic ticket is a phone call away now that the Ventura County Superior and Municipal courts have begun using a voice response system.

Using a push-button phone and credit card, traffic violators now can pay their fines and see if they qualify for traffic school via phone lines.

The new system, which was activated Aug. 1, has already processed more than 5,000 citations, with an average of 1,200 calls a day.

``The traffic side is where we get the biggest volume of calls,'' said Margie Borjon-Miller, deputy executive officer for the county. ``This system allows people to pay for traffic tickets after 5 p.m., seven days a week, 24 hours a day.''

The new Interactive Voice Response System, similar to push-button systems used by banks, is the latest effort to streamline the court services and make life a little easier for the public.

With more than 100,000 citations issued yearly by law enforcement, Borjon-Miller said it is one way to get people the information they need without a trip to the courts.

``I wouldn't necessarily say we're expecting to save any real money, but time is money, and this allows us to use human resource more effectively,'' said Borjon-Miller.

Whether it's courts or banks, interactive voice systems are the wave of the future and a boon to service-oriented industries, officials say.

``In some cases, the systems answer 75 percent of calls,'' said Jack Alustza, vice president of sales for U.S. Audiotex, the company that donated the system to the county. ``In courts especially, they're just encumbered and inundated with calls.''

Callers can use the system by calling (805) 662-6620 and can make inquiries about other court services such as small claims, adoptions, probate, family law, juvenile court and court records.

Although east Ventura County residents also can access the system, its a toll call until a toll-free line is installed in September.

Costs to the county run close to $600 a month for 24 phone lines.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 12, 1996
Words:341
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