Washington Drivers Getting 6-Year Licenses

August 14, 2014

OLYMPIA—Starting this month, most Washington drivers renewing their licenses will have an additional year until their next visit to the Department of Licensing as the state transitions from a five-year driver license renewal cycle to a six-year cycle.

By extending the renewal cycle to six years, drivers in our state won’t have to visit DOL offices as often. Over time, this change also will reduce the number of drivers and ID card holders visiting DOL offices each year. This will help keep wait times as low as possible for all our customers.

The cost of a basic driver license or ID card will remain at $9 per year, but most customers will be paying for an additional year, so the total renewal cost will change from $45 for five years to $54 for six years.

Moving to a six-year driver license is expected to reduce the average number of annual renewals by more than 100,000. In order to evenly distribute all of our state’s licensed drivers into six years of roughly equal and lower renewal volumes, some drivers will be selected to receive a license extension for less than six years.

Beginning August 10, approximately 20 percent of drivers with licenses expiring in October will be selected at random by DOL’s license issuance system to receive a five-year license. The remaining 80 percent will receive a six-year license.

DOL will continue this gradual transition for the next five years by selecting 20 percent of drivers each year to receive licenses valid for less than six years. During the second year of this process, 20 percent of drivers will get a license valid for four years. In the third year, 20 percent will get a license valid for three years. In the fourth year, 20 percent will get a two-year license. In the final year, 20 percent will receive a one-year license.

Drivers randomly selected to receiving shorter renewal periods will only pay for the number of years their license is valid and will be eligible to renew online.

Click here for more info on DOL’s website.


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.


Department of Licensing launches new, time-saving online driver licensing services

September 12, 2013
WA DOL

WA DOL

DOL recently introduced two new online services that will save our customers time. The first, our Online Driver License Pre-Application, allows individuals seeking their first Washington State driver license or ID card to start the process online to save themselves time in our offices. When they do visit a driver license office, our staff simply verifies the information provided while validating their identity documents.  
 
The second new online application is designed for teens with an instruction (learner’s) permit. After they successfully complete the required traffic safety course and driver testing at a licensed driver training school, they can go online to finalize their driver license and pay the required licensing fees without another visit to a driver licensing office. After completing the simple online process, their new license is mailed to them, saving them the second visit to a driver license office.  

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

Driver testing to be conducted outside DOL across the state

November 27, 2012

OLYMPIA— On December 1, the Department of Licensing will expand a new program allowing driver training schools and school district driver training programs across the state to conduct driver knowledge and skills testing for new driver license applicants.

“We started this program in King County and it has gone smoothly,” said DOL Director Alan Haight. “Now driver training schools in many other areas of the state are ready to conduct drive tests, which will remove one of the most time-consuming transactions from our offices. We think this is going to speed things up for other customers who must come into an office.”

As of December 1, driver knowledge and skills tests will no longer be offered in the following licensing service offices: Bellingham, Friday Harbor, Everett, Greenwood, Smokey Point, Renton, Federal Way, Lacey, Parkland, Centralia, Vancouver East, Vancouver North, Kennewick, Chelan, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Davenport, Newport, and Spokane.

Previously scheduled drive tests will be honored in these offices. The Department of Licensing will continue to offer tests in areas that don’t have driver training schools nearby that offer testing.

To conduct driver tests, driver training schools must be licensed with the state or be part of a state-certified public school driver training program. They have to apply for the authority to administer driver testing, and are subject to audits and record checks.

After passing the tests, customers will go to a licensing office to obtain their license. Customers are still required to pay the driver license application fee to DOL. Driver training schools will set the fee they charge for the tests.

The program is the final phase of implementing House Bill 1635, which gives the Department authority to contract with private driver training schools, school districts and motorcycle training schools to conduct some knowledge and skills tests. The bill was passed in an effort to reduce wait times in licensing service offices.

For a list of state-approved driver training schools, go to: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/testing.html.


Some driver and vehicle fees increasing in October

October 1, 2012

DOL

OLYMPIA — Several fees related to driver and vehicle licensing charged by the Department of Licensing increased today.

These fee increases, passed by the 2012 State Legislature, are required to continue to fund the operation and maintenance of the roads, streets, bridges, ferries, transit systems, and other services that make up our vital transportation system.

(Please click image below for larger view of fees.)


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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