DOL staff receive statewide traffic safety awards

September 30, 2010

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has honored DOL staff members for going beyond their job duties and making outstanding contributions to traffic safety.

Tana Cochran, manager of the Driver Training School Program, won in the category of Young Drivers. She has made major improvements to the parents’ guidebook for teaching youth driving skills, coordinates a large yearly driver education training conferences for driver training instructors and has developed new ways to gather and analyze DOL data to help minimize teen driver collisions.

Bruce Chunn and Haiping Zhang’s Predictive Model Research Project won an award also in the category of Young Drivers. The project was created to research and create a predictive model for at-risk drivers. The project researched Washington driving records looking for a predictor of future collisions and correlation between traffic violations not including a collision, and the increasing probability of collisions. The project concluded that an individual who recently received their first traffic violation is twice as likely to have a collision, and 16 to 19 year-old drivers have approximately twice the risk of older drivers. As a result of the project’s conclusions, DOL has expanded the use of warning letters as an early intervention system for 18 to 19 year-old drivers who receive their first traffic violation.

Tony Sermonti and Mark Horner and their work with the statewide Text-Talk-Ticket campaign won in the category of Distracted Driving. Lead by DOL and the State Patrol, the campaign was a public awareness campaign preceding the new ‘primary offense’ cell phone law. The campaign designed and presented a new logo and slogan for distracted driving, Talk-Text-Ticket. The campaign included well-attended media events, a Seattle morning news show tour by DOL director Liz Luce, a video public service announcement, driver training school outreach and a tour of high schools and the Puyallup Fair with a vehicle involved in a fatal distracted driving collision. The kickoff message on April 30, 2010 reached more than 600,000 households, and the public service announcement received more than 500,000 unique visitors per month.

More Washington drivers choosing to “embrace life”

September 22, 2010

by Mark Horner

This week’s news that nearly 98-percent of Washington drivers are wearing seat belts reminds us of one our favorite videos of 2010.  Titled Embrace Life, the powerful video has received more than 11.4 million views since its January 29th debut on YouTube.  If you haven’t watched the video, it’s 89-seconds well spent. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 97.6 percent of our state’s drivers are buckling-up this year, an increase of 1.2 percent from 2009.

“The closer we get to 100 percent seat belt use, the more difficult it becomes to realize higher use rates,” said commission Director Lowell Porter.  “To jump from 96.4 to 97.6 percent is truly a significant improvement that moves Washington closer to its goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.”

To paraphrase the  unspoken message of the popular YouTube video, one might say that when Washington residents settle into a car or truck,  more than ever,  they are choosing to embrace life.

-watch the video, Embrace Life

More about off/on road motorcycles

September 16, 2010

Downloadable off road motorcycle info sheet.

Here are photo illustrations of street-legal  and non-street-legal motorcycles, and examples of accompanying documentation that comes from manufacturers. While the photographs are KTM brand motorcycles, there are a variety of manufacturers of both street legal, non-street legal and “dual sport” motorcycles – these two motorcycles are used only as examples, and this information specifically applies to Washington state.

Motorcycles (all vehicles, for that matter) are determined to be road-worthy depending on a long list of items – everything from the construction of the gas tank, to the brakes, mirrors and emission standards. Except for the emission standards, these criteria are a part of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which Washington state has adopted. If a vehicle is not road-worthy, Washington Administrative Code requires that it must be noted on the vehicle’s Certificate of Origin. Some manufacturers are out of compliance with this requirement, and DOL continues work to ensure manufacturers are compliant. You can see two examples below.

Street legal KTM 690 Enduro 

Street-legal KTM 690 Enduro


Non Washington state street-legal KTM 300 XC 


Certificate of Origin for a Honda non-street legal motorcycle. Note required statement.

Certificate for non-street legal 300XC motorcycle without required statement.

UPDATED: Pierce judge overturns emergency real estate suspension

September 9, 2010

FRIDAY, OCT. 8 – A Pierce County Superior Court judge overturned an emergency suspension of the real estate licenses of, Inc. managing broker Michael Hellickson and broker Tara Hellickson.  After today’s ruling, DOL has reissued the real estate licenses. Click here to read the judge’s ruling.

The temporary suspensions were put in place by DOL on Sept. 2.

DOL spokesperson Christine Anthony says that the agency stands by its decision to issue the summary suspension, but will certainly abide by the judge’s decision. She says the agency will present its case at an administrative hearing beginning Oct. 19.


The Department of Licensing (DOL) has indefinitely suspended the real estate licenses of, Inc., managing broker Michael Hellickson, and broker Tara Hellickson for misconduct following the investigation of 27 consumer complaints. They are barred from engaging in any real estate business and transactions, pending further disciplinary proceedings.

While investigating these complaints, DOL investigators found evidence of ongoing patterns and practices that financially harmed consumers. These practices included:

  • misrepresenting to sellers that the home would be purchased by the broker if it didn’t sell within 30 days
  • telling homeowners to stop making mortgage payments so they could do a short sale
  • listing homes at prices not authorized by the homeowner
  • listing homes at artificially reduced prices in order to generate low-ball offers
  • misrepresenting the contents of listing agreements by having homeowners sign blank addenda and later filling in unacceptable list price authorizations
  • failing to provide sellers with copies of executed listing agreements
  • telling homeowners to vacate their home before they were legally required to do so
  • communicating negligently with homeowners, potential buyers, and lenders

The department also found evidence of false advertising about the real estate practice. The company’s website claims Hellickson is the number one agent in both Hawaii and Oregon, when neither of them is licensed to sell real estate in either state. The website also claims the Hellicksons or their company, Perfect Fit Loans, can provide home loan services, but this company is not licensed by the Department of Financial Institutions.

Consumers with a pending transaction or a signed contract with the Hellickson group are encouraged to seek advice from an attorney or a licensed real estate broker before taking any action.

Consumers who are worried about losing their homes may contact the Department of Financial Institutions about their options. To talk to a counselor, call 877-894-4663. They can also get more information at Consumers can also contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-551-4636. If you need help finding an attorney, the following resources may be useful:

Washington State Bar Association for Lawyer Referral Services
Housing Justice Project
Department of Housing and Urban Development Mortgage Counselor Services
WSBA Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project:  877-894-HOME
KCBA Housing Justice Project:  206-267-7090
Northwest Justice Project CLEAR line:  888-201-1014 (outside King County), 206- 461-3200 (in King County)
Legal Action Center:  206-324-6890

Off road motorcycles not legal for street use; some registrations being canceled

September 1, 2010

 DOL recently learned about a procedural issue that allowed the owners of some off-road motorcycles to register them for use on public roadways. State and federal laws prohibit vehicles manufactured specifically for off-road use from being licensed and registered for use on public streets.

Off-road motorcycles and other types of off-road vehicles can be registered with DOL as off-road vehicles and are eligible for off-road vehicle permits. These permits allow use the use of these vehicles for recreational purposes on public land, but not on public roads.

DOL is working to cancel license plates and motorcycle registrations issued to the owners of off-road motorcycles. These individuals will receive new off-road vehicle registrations and an off-road vehicle permit.

Click here for detailed questions and answers about this issue.