Public hearings set for August on ‘X’ gender option on driver licenses, ID cards

July 31, 2019

X gender driver licenseWashington residents who identify as neither male nor female will soon have the option of listing “X” as their gender on state-issued driver licenses, instruction permits, and ID cards.

But before the change takes effect — possibly as soon as October — the Department of Licensing plans to solicit feedback from the public regarding proposed rule language. Input from the hearings, along with emails and phone calls, will be used to determine if rule wording should be edited.

Join us at any of the following hearings:

Aug. 12, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Seattle Public Library
1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Aug. 13, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Washington State Capitol, Columbia Room
416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98504

Aug. 15, 2019 – 4 p.m.
Spokane Public Library
3324 South Perry Street
Spokane, WA 99203

If you have questions or need a reasonable accommodation for a hearing, please email rulescoordinator@dol.wa.gov, call 360-902-3846, or send your request by mail to P.O. Box 9020, Olympia, WA 98507.

If you can’t attend a hearing, you can still be heard. Submit a comment online.

Listening sessions were held in June in Seattle and Spokane to gather public sentiment on providing a third gender option. Insights from those sessions were used in drafting rule language.

The move to allow a non-binary designation on driver licenses and ID cards comes more than a year and a half after a similar rule change was enacted by the state Department of Health. As of January 2018, people born in Washington can change their sex designation on their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity.

Adding an “X” gender designation won’t affect the validity of identification used to comply with the REAL ID Act when enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020.


Downtown Seattle licensing service office is moving to a new location starting July 30

July 22, 2019

DOL logoSeattle is growing, and we’re growing along with it.

Effective Tuesday, July 30, our downtown Seattle licensing service office will be housed in a new location:

450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

July 26 is the last day at the Spring Street office.

Although the new office will normally be open on Mondays, it will be closed July 29 so we can install and test new cameras, finish office setup, and acclimate staff. We’ll be ready to serve the public the following day.

With nearly double the space of the Spring Street office, the new location on 3rd Avenue will help with customer flow and provide a more comfortable environment for visitors and staff. The addition of three work counters, cameras at each workstation, and other updated equipment and software will also help us more effectively meet customer needs.

The change of address won’t affect hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Motorcycle drivers must have liability insurance under new law that goes into effect July 28

July 18, 2019

Consider this your 10-day warning, motorcycle drivers. As of July 28, 2019, you will no longer be exempt from Washington state’s mandatory auto insurance law.

Under a bill signed into law earlier this year, motorcycle drivers must obtain liability coverage and carry proof of insurance – long required of other motorists.

If you operate a motorcycle or other vehicle without the required insurance, you could be cited for a traffic infraction and receive a hefty fine. Further, if you’re at fault in a collision and you don’t have insurance, your license may be suspended if you fail to pay the resulting damages and/or injuries.

Operators of motorcycles or other vehicles required to be registered in Washington must act on one of the following four options:

1. Carry liability insurance with liability limits of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death to another person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all other people
  • $10,000 for damage to another person’s property

2. Apply for a certificate of deposit to pay for your liability insurance

3. Have a liability bond of at least $60,000 filed by a surety bond company that is authorized to do business in Washington

4. Self-insure if you have 26 or more vehicles

Get details at the Department of Licensing website.

Exceptions to the new law:

  • Motor scooters and mopeds
  • Horseless carriage vehicles over 40 years old
  • State or publicly owned vehicles
  • Common or contract carriers with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

When you drive a vehicle in Washington that is required to be registered in another state, you must have the type of insurance required by that state. You must also be able to provide proof of this insurance to law enforcement if requested.

Find more information at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner website. There, you can browse licensed agents and brokers and check the status of their license.


DOL statement regarding facial recognition technology

July 8, 2019

DOL logoJuly 8, 2019 For Immediate Release.

News Reports – ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases.

Statement from Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen:

“National news reports about federal law enforcement and immigration officials’ use of state facial recognition databases has led to a high level of misunderstanding and confusion about how our state Department of Licensing protects this data. Our DOL has implemented strict standards to ensure data is not released to any law enforcement entity for immigration purposes or without a judicial court order or subpoena. There is no external access to the Facial Recognition System. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff. We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the data and information of all Washingtonians.”

Background

The Washington Post reported ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens. The Department of Licensing does not provide access to our Facial Recognition System to local, state, or federal law enforcement entities. They must provide the agency with a court order signed by a judge.

The New York Times states “agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, though it was unclear whether the state carried out the searches.” The agency received 53 requests through court order or subpoena since 2013. Thirteen of those were federal requests. None have been received from 2017 to present. The remaining 40 were from local and state law enforcement entities.

Federal requests include:

  • One – U.S. Department of Justice
  • Two – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Four – Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
  • Six – U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

If a match was found through any request during this time, DOL would provide limited identity information.

DOL’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology

  • KUOW ran the headline “ICE uses Washington driver’s licenses to hunt immigrants for deportation, researchers say.” This is incorrect. No entity has access to DOL’s facial recognition system. They would provide a photo and DOL would conduct the research.
  • Law enforcement entities have no access to “mine” DOL’s state driver’s license databases using facial recognition technology.
  • As of February 2018, all requests must be court ordered.

DOL’s Facial Recognition Process

  • After receiving a court-ordered subpoena, DOL performs a search by comparing the photo provided by a law enforcement entity with DOL’s database. If a match occurs between the photo provided by the entity with a photo in DOL’s database, DOL provides the individual’s first, middle, and last name, date of birth, and ID or driver license number.
  • The Department of Licensing does the research. There is no direct external access to the facial recognition system. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff.

Immigration and Citizenship Status                                                                        

  • The Department of Licensing does not collect information regarding a person’s immigration or citizenship status.
  • The Department of Licensing does not collect place of birth.
  • The Department of Licensing does not provide Social Security numbers.

Governor’s Executive Orders

  • The Department of Licensing is committed to following the Governor’s Executive Order 17-01 Reaffirming Washington’s commitment to Tolerance, Diversity and inclusiveness.
  • We fully comply with Executive Order 16-01, Privacy Protection and Transparency in State Government. We only collect information that is necessary to perform our agency duties to establish identification and driving privileges.