Initiative 976-related changes to vehicle registration fees and taxes on hold after injunction

November 15, 2019

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UPDATE – NOV. 27, 2019: A King County Superior Court judge has issued an injunction in the court challenge to Initiative 976. The Washington State Department of Licensing will continue to collect all vehicle fees and taxes unless directed otherwise by a court. See our updated Fact Sheet for more information.


Nov. 15, 2019 – After the recent passage of I-976, commonly known as the $30 car-tab initiative, the Washington State Department of Licensing is working to implement changes to affected vehicle registration fees and taxes. The initiative takes effect Dec. 5, 2019.

Any possible changes to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), also known as the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax, will happen later. While DOL collects this tax, it goes toward Sound Transit projects.

DOL is working to understand the effects of pending legal actions related to I-976. Implementation efforts will persist unless a court directs otherwise.

I-976 reduces or eliminates several fees and taxes while retaining others.


Gender “X” option now available on driver licenses, instruction permits, and ID cards

November 13, 2019

Starting today, residents can change their gender designation to “X” on a Washington driver license, instruction permit, or identification card. The “X” is an alternative to “M” for male or “F” for female, and is available to anyone.

A third gender option ensures that all Washington residents have identification documents that reflect their gender identity. Accurate gender markers on such documents help residents of all genders access public spaces and resources, and reduce the risk of violence, discrimination, and harassment.

“Everyone deserves to have their lived experience of gender and identity reflected as accurately as possible on their identification documents,” Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen said. “This, in turn, helps reduce barriers to housing, transportation, education, and employment. It’s in service to our purpose of helping all Washington residents live, work, drive, and thrive.”

An “X” gender designation will not affect the validity of identification used to comply with the REAL ID Act when enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020. The REAL ID-compliant forms of identification issued by Washington state are the enhanced driver license (EDL) and enhanced ID card (EID), though residents have other options.

Before adding “X” as a gender option, DOL held public hearings in August in Seattle, Spokane, and Olympia regarding rule language. In June, listening sessions were held in Seattle and Spokane to solicit public opinion.

The move to allow a nonbinary designation on driver licenses and ID cards aligns with a similar rule change enacted by the state Department of Health. As of January 2018, people born in Washington can change their gender designation on their birth certificate.


2-wheel motorcycle permit and endorsement processes will change on Jan. 1, 2020

November 1, 2019

motorcycleAs part of a broader effort to reduce serious crashes and fatalities on Washington’s roadways, the state is changing its requirements for getting a 2-wheel permit or endorsement.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, motorcyclists seeking a permit will need to pass a basic knowledge and skills exam. They must pass a more advanced knowledge and skills exam for an endorsement.

Currently, motorcyclists must pass only a basic knowledge exam and skills test for an endorsement.

Also on Jan. 1, the penalty for riding without an endorsement will increase from $136 to $386. The average cost for a motorcycle safety course to obtain an endorsement is $200.

Motorcyclists represent a disproportionately high percentage of fatal and serious injury crashes. Switching to a more comprehensive exam process is in line with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Target Zero goal of reducing serious motor vehicle crashes and fatalities to zero by 2030.

Frequently asked questions about the law changes:

What must I do if I already have a motorcycle permit?

Individuals who already have a permit can take either a training course or a skills test before Dec. 31, 2019, to obtain a 2-wheel endorsement. See approved motorcycle training schools.

What must I do if I already have an endorsement?

Nothing. You’re all set.

What if I have taken a motorcycle knowledge test but I do not have a motorcycle permit?

If you want a motorcycle permit, you must visit a licensing service office to add it to your driver license. If you want a 2-wheel endorsement, you must pass a skills test. After that, you must visit a licensing office by Dec. 31, 2019 to add the endorsement.

What do I need to do if I already have a motorcycle permit but I did not get my endorsement by Dec. 31?

As long as your permit is still valid, take the 2-wheel endorsement-level knowledge test and a 2-wheel endorsement-level skills test. After passing both, visit a licensing office to add an endorsement to your driver license.

Am I able to renew my permit?

You can renew your permit once after Jan. 1, 2020.

What if my permit has expired?

You must start the process again. After Jan. 1, 2020, you must take a permit-level knowledge test and a permit-level skills test if your permit is expired.

What if I am under 18 years old?

If you are under 18, you must complete an approved motorcycle safety course before applying for an endorsement.

What if I want a sidecar/trike permit or endorsement?

The new law is specific to 2-wheel motorcycles. You will need to take a 3-wheel motorcycle training course or take the 3-wheel knowledge and skills tests. See approved trike/sidecar schools.