State begins rolling out six-year driver licenses on February 10

February 6, 2014
WA DOL

WA DOL

Beginning February 10, all new driver license applicants will receive a license that’s valid for six years, as the Department of Licensing starts transitioning from a five-year to a six-year driver license.

New driver license applicants include individuals applying for their first license and those who are transferring their licenses from another state.

The per-year cost for a driver license will remain at $9 per year, but new applicants will pay for the additional year, which changes the fee from $45 to $54, not including the $35 application fee.

Adding a new motorcycle endorsement for up to six years will cost $2 per year.

Washingtonians who are obtaining their first Washington state ID cards will also be issued a card valid for six years beginning on February 10, at a cost of $54, or $9 per year.

Those renewing a current Washington driver licenses or ID cards will start transitioning to a six-year renewal period later this year.

In 2012, the Washington State Legislature authorized extending driver’s license terms from five to six years to improve customer service by reducing customer volumes and wait times in driver license offices.


New app helps suspended drivers get their license reinstated

February 7, 2013

The process of getting a suspended license reinstated can seem daunting.  For many, it’s a labyrinth of trying to figure-out which courts and/or agencies must be contacted in order to clear-up unresolved cases.

But now, the Department of Licensing is offering a fast and simple solution people can use to piece all of that information together.

It’s a simple app on the DOL’s website, dol.wa.gov.

“We want to make it as quick and easy as possible for them to get their license back,” said DOL spokesperson Brad Benfield.

After the user enters some basic information, the online app provides a specific list of what that person must do to get his or her license reinstated.

“What we’re finding is that people are able to go online, use the reinstatements program, and systematically work their way through all of the issues that they need to work through to get their license back.   And as they continue to check in on it, those things that they’ve taken care of come off the list until the day when they find out that they’re actually eligible for reinstatement,” Benfield said.

That’s a huge departure from the common scenarios that’ve played-out for years:  people using their valuable time to go to a DOL office or calling the agency as they attempt to figure-out how to get their license reinstated.

Now, all of that information is at a person’s fingertips.  You might say the app puts you at the front of the line.

And it’s free.

Believe it or not, there are companies who charge to provide you with this same information.

Benfield also has this heads-up for people who’ve only  recently learned that their license will be suspended.

“Until that license is actually suspended, they’re not going to be able to use this system because it provides a snapshot of what’s going on with their record on any given day.  If their license hasn’t been suspended yet, (the app’s) not yet going to reflect that. “

The DOL recently produced a video about the app and posted it to its YouTube channel.

YouTube video:  http://youtu.be/LidYMIP6v0c


Recent KING 5 report about DOL facial recognition program contained a false statement

January 24, 2012

Individuals who fraudulently obtain Washington state driver licenses and ID cards present a serious risk to the safety and economic health of our residents and businesses. To fight this type of illegal activity, DOL has been working with the State Legislature for several years to obtain the authority to use a proven, non-invasive facial recognition system already in use for our Enhanced Driver License program to monitor regular driver license and ID card transactions for potential fraud.

In a story broadcast during the 11 p.m. newscast on January 23, 2012, KING 5 stated that DOL operated facial recognition software for regular driver license and ID card transactions without legal authority. This is a false statement. DOL was fully authorized to operate this system as a pilot program by our state’s 2009-2011 transportation budget. This budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on May 13, 2009, contained this provision:

“(7) The department may seek federal funds to implement a driver’s license and identicard biometric matching system pilot program to verify the identity of applicants for, and holders of, drivers’ licenses and identicards. If funds are received, the department shall report any benefits or problems identified during the course of the pilot program to the transportation committees of the legislature upon the completion of the program.”

The pilot program ended when the 2009-2011 transportation budget expired. We are now working with the Legislature to make the use of this technology a permanent part of our processes.

DOL appreciates KING 5’s efforts to keep the public informed about the use of our facial recognition system, but it is important for the public to understand that DOL has not used this system in any way that was not fully authorized by law.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011 has demonstrated a need to have this system in place to make sure DOL is doing everything possible to protect public safety and the personal identity information of our state’s residents.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and our pilot program has identified three primary reasons individuals fraudulently obtain multiple driver licenses or ID cards. These are:

• To continue driving after a driver license suspension or revocation

• To purchase or consume alcohol as a minor

• To engage in criminal activities including identity theft

In 2011, the use of facial recognition by our agency resulted in 571 driver license suspensions and the cancellation of 560 fraudulent records and the associated cards. We also are working our way through 3,800 more cases of fraud identified by the facial recognition system during the pilot program.

Our facial recognition system also has allowed us to identify cases where individuals were maintaining multiple identities to fraudulently collect benefits through state entitlement programs.


It’s easy: new online tool to keep your address updated

September 28, 2011

DOL has introduced a new, easy way for you to keep your driver license or ID card address updated. The web application is available here. You won’t automatically receive a new license or ID card, unless you pay an additional fee for a new one, but your address will be updated in the database.

State law requires that you change your address within ten days of a move.


Great news for summer driver licensing office customers

August 5, 2011

Summer is traditionally a very busy time in driver licensing offices, but customers across the state are enjoying average wait times of less than 30 minutes this season. Statewide average wait times are down sharply compared to last year and have been below 30 minutes for the past four months.Statewide average wait time chart

The average amount of time customers spent waiting for service in a driver licensing office in July was 28 minutes. This is a significantly lower than the average of 42 minutes in July last year.

While average wait times are way down across the state, some offices still have longer wait times than others. A great way to save time is to visit DOL’s Internet website and check the current wait time of the office you are planning to visit before you go. Also, keep in mind that many of DOL’s most common transactions, like driver license renewal and requesting a copy of your driving record, are offered online at the DOL website.

It’s also important to keep in mind that wait times can vary greatly depending on the day of the week and time of day customers choose to visit a driver licensing office. Watch the video below for tips on how to make your next visit a quick one.


Washington State and South Korea reach driver license reciprocity agreement

May 25, 2011

South Korea traffic.

On May 24, Washington state entered a driver license reciprocity agreement with the country of South Korea. The agreement was signed by Licensing Director Liz Luce and South Korean Consul General Young-wan Song at a ceremony attended by Governor Chris Gregoire.

The agreement recognizes that, based on similar driver license testing procedures, drivers from both places are similarly qualified to drive. Director Luce said this creates an opportunity to streamline a process.

“When a licensed driver from our state is planning on moving to South Korea for a few years, the last thing they want to worry about is retaking their driver license tests, Luce said. “Now, they won’t have to.”

Likewise, South Korean citizens with driver licenses who come to live in our state will be allowed to get a Washington license without retaking driving tests here.

Gov. Gregoire pointed out that South Korea is our state’s fourth largest export market and said this agreement will strengthen our state’s bond with this important international partner. Washington state has similar driver license reciprocity agreements with British Columbia and Germany.


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