Department of Licensing to launch a series of community visits in April

April 17, 2018

Director Pat Kohler and the agency’s new outreach director to share information about the agency’s efforts to protect personal information and provide enhanced customer care and services

Olympia, WA – This month, officials from the Department of Licensing will begin traveling the state to share the agency’s work to better protect the personal information of all Washington residents.

In January, a Seattle Times article pointed out deficiencies in DOL’s compliance with an executive order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee that reiterated Washington’s commitment to its policies on services to immigrants and outlined actions to ensure state agencies are clear on their expected roles and responsibilities with respect to law enforcement and data collection.

Following the Times report, DOL Director Pat Kohler pulled together a team of subject matter experts from across the agency and has been meeting with community leaders to review how data is collected, managed and shared.

“Public safety and consumer protection is at the heart of our mission. We have invested considerable time improving our policies to ensure we’re protecting the information of our customers while continuing to support our partners in law enforcement,” said Kohler. “We welcome the opportunity to talk with our customers throughout the state to hear how we can make sure they feel confident and secure when applying for a license or ID card.”

DOL’s work includes new processes for law enforcement requests, improved auditing of contracts and systems, and an expanded commitment to community education, outreach and customer service. Highlights include:

  1. An improved and more thorough review of law enforcement requests to ensure that all requests to DOL’s License Integrity Unit are properly processed and tracked.
  2. Additional review of all immigration-related requests, which DOL will now only process if accompanied by a court order. See attached LIU summary graph for details.
  3. Increased security related to access to DOL’s Driver and Plate Search (DAPS) system and sharing of Social Security Numbers.
  4. Elimination of the collection of place of birth for standard drivers’ licenses and identification cards.
  5. Creation of a new Office of Community Engagement to help educate and provide support for the public and to expand our accessibility and efforts related to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Civil Rights compliance.
  6. Establishment of a hotline, 360.359.4454, where concerned residents can check to see if their data was shared with ICE.

“Though this list is not complete, it does provide some insight about the policy and process changes that are helping us protect customer information, support law enforcement and assist residents who have questions about the information we share with federal immigration agencies. More details about our EO Compliance project are available on our website, and we will continue to update the site in the days and weeks ahead as more work is completed,” said Krista Carlson, Director of DOL Communications and Education.

Rafael Estevez recently joined DOL as the agency’s new Director of Community Engagement. His initial work has focused on meeting with stakeholders and consulates to identify the barriers and challenges that exist for vulnerable populations and residents who are having difficulties accessing services.

Estevez and director Kohler will participate in the community visits, which begin in central Washington next week. The pair plans to make initial stops in Lake Chelan, Wenatchee, Granger and Yakima.

“These improvements to our services and processes are important,” Kohler said. “We are hopeful these community visits will help us spot new challenges and, ultimately, provide better service for all of our customers.”

View this blog post in Spanish:

View the travel itinerary in Spanish:

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Skip a Trip — Go Online. The Department of Licensing has a wide variety of consumer services available online. Please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


Owners for 32,749 vehicles in Washington to receive a DOL notice about unpaid $15 fee

March 26, 2018

Correction and update / April 2, 2018:  Last month, 749 snow mobile owners were mistakenly sent letters stating that they owed the $15 Out of State Check fee.  However, this fee does not apply to Out of State snow mobiles. DOL regrets this error and has sent out a subsequent letter to these snow mobile owners apologizing for our error.  Because Out of State snow mobiles are not subject to this fee, the revised total number of residents owing the Out of State Vehicle Check fee is 32,000.

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OLYMPIA— Beginning last week, owners for 32,749 vehicles in Washington started receiving a letter from the Department of Licensing asking them to pay a $15 fee that wasn’t collected due to a processing error.

These owners brought their vehicles to Washington from out of state between December 2016 and August 2017, and should have been assessed a $15 Out of State Vehicle Check fee (RCW 46.17.120) at the time they titled their vehicle in Washington State.  The error resulted in approximately $491,000 in uncollected fees, which are required by law to help fund highway safety programs.

Customers will need to pay this outstanding balance prior to their next renewal, and can pay in-person at a vehicle licensing office or online at dol.wa.gov

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Skip a Trip — Go Online. The Department of Licensing has a wide variety of consumer services available online. Please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


Nearly 7,000 Voters to Receive Late Election Ballots

February 6, 2018


Software error prevented transmission of some licensing information to election officials

OLYMPIA — Nearly 7,000 voters will receive ballots this week for the February special election via first class mail due to a software error in the Department of Licensing’s (DOL) driver licensing database system that caused information to not be transmitted to the Office of the Secretary of State’s (OSOS) Voter Registration Division under Washington’s Motor Voter law.

Both OSOS and DOL have been working to ensure voters receive their ballots in time for the February Special Election. The data error was discovered in late January. Working with OSOS, the DOL Information Services team learned that when some customers changed their name (with or without an address change), and were assigned a new driver license number, those changes were made in DOL’s system but were not transmitted to OSOS’s system. Once the error was identified, the DOL team worked over the weekend of January 26 to develop and test a fix to the 30-year-old driver database system. The software fix was released into production on the evening of January 30.

DOL and OSOS worked together to match the voter data in the two systems. They determined the number of impacted voters is 6,969 statewide. These voters will receive special processing to receive ballots this week for the February 2018 election.

“We worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of State to identify and resolve this issue quickly,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We regret these errors occurred and we have put in place new controls that monitor daily transmitted voter information to the Secretary of State to ensure it is complete and accurate. This error underscores the importance of replacing our decades-old driver licensing database system, which is scheduled to occur this September.”

Kohler said DOL appreciates the partnership of the OSOS in this situation, and their willingness to work toward a solution. DOL will also reimburse County Auditors for the cost of mailing ballots to affected voters that didn’t receive ballots.

Voters can verify their address, name and registration information at http://myvote.wa.gov. Questions or concerns about voter status can be directed to county auditors. A full list of county auditors is available here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/viewauditors.aspx.

Read this news release in the following languages:

 

For more information about the Department of Licensing, please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


WA DOL issues Emergency Rule

January 26, 2018

(Olympia, WA)  Washington residents who apply for a standard driver license, instruction permit and ID card will no longer be asked to provide their place of birth as part of the application process.

On January 19, 2018 the Department of Licensing (DOL) filed emergency rule making to immediately end the collection of information that isn’t required by state or federal statute. This change takes effect today.

During the 120 day period the emergency rule is in effect, DOL will pursue rule changes in order to permanently eliminate place of birth as a requirement to apply for a driver license or ID card.

After 30 days, DOL will file proposed rule language altering WAC 308‐104‐014. DOL is required to hold a public hearing at least 20 days following submission of text. The rule becomes permanent 31 days from the date DOL files the exact text of the rule and the agency’s response to any written or verbal testimony.

DOL is taking these actions to ensure the agency is safeguarding personal information that can be used to determine immigration status and to uphold the intent of Governor Inslee’s Executive Order 17-01, Reaffirming Washington’s Commitment to Tolerance, Diversity, and Inclusiveness.

For more information, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/informationdisclosure.html.


DOL takes immediate steps to stop disclosure of information to federal immigration authorities

January 15, 2018

OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Licensing is taking immediate action to ensure the agency is safeguarding personal information that can be used to determine immigration status and to uphold the intent of Governor Inslee’s Executive Order 17-01, Reaffirming Washington’s Commitment to Tolerance, Diversity, and Inclusiveness.

 “We support the Executive Order, but failed to meet the Governor’s intent regarding the protection of this type of information,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “We are sorry that our work did not align with our state’s values.

“Our agency did not clearly communicate the nature of all federal law enforcement requests to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. Nor did we seek clarification about how to handle information requested by agencies seeking records related to United States Code (USCs) that contain both criminal and civil immigration violations.

“We are completely focused on correcting our processes and rebuilding trust with all Washington residents,” Kohler said. “We are building a comprehensive plan to ensure greater accountability within the agency.”

In consultation with the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General, DOL announced the following steps:

  • Stopping the release of all records to federal immigration authorities. Moving forward, records will not be released to these entities without a court order signed by a federal judge or magistrate, or under the requirement of state or federal law.
  • Conducting a thorough review of agency processes and computer systems with the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Using emergency rulemaking to end the collection of information that isn’t mandated and could be misused, such as place of birth information gathered during the driver license or ID card application process. Once the emergency rulemaking process begins, information can be found here: http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/driversrules.html.
  • Accepting the resignation of DOL Deputy Director Jeff DeVere’s. DeVere was the executive sponsor overseeing compliance with Executive Order 17-01.
  • Hiring of a community liaison officer to work with community groups to ensure DOL processes, procedures and services meet the needs of all Washington residents. This person, who will report to the agency director, will provide oversight and accountability and coordinate outreach and education to individuals and stakeholder groups.
  • Establishing a new hotline to answer customer concerns and any questions they may have about this issue.
  • Educating DOL staff on all changes made to policies and procedures related to the release of information to law enforcement and ensure all requests are evaluated properly. We also will make sure all staff understand the Governor’s Executive Order and the importance of diversity, tolerance and inclusion.

“I am working closely with stakeholder groups to improve our processes and provide more transparency going forward,” Kohler said.  Washington residents can submit questions or comments to Director Kohler at DOLDirector@dol.wa.gov.

Read this news release in the following languages:


Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? Consider checking your vehicle for open recalls

January 3, 2018

Become a safer driver in just a few minutes by visiting  http://www.checktoprotect.org/#/, to conduct a fast, free search for open recalls on your car. By entering a vehicle’s year, Identification Number (VIN), make and model you cVehicle an access a list of potential open recalls. The VIN can be found in the lower left corner of a car’s windshield or on the inside of the driver-side door, or on your vehicle’s registration card and possibly on insurance documentation.

Drivers who have open recalls on their vehicles can visit a local authorized dealership to have them repaired for free.

Check To Protect is a national campaign designed to encourage drivers to search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) open recall database by educating drivers about the staggering number of vehicles with unrepaired recalls and underscores the need to promptly fix recalls once drivers become aware of them.

According to NHTSA, there are more than 53 million—or more than one in four—vehicles on the road with unresolved safety recalls. Neglecting recalls could lead to costly vehicle damage and can jeopardize the safety of motorists on the roads.

Launched in June by the National Safety Council (NSC) and founding coalition member, FCA US, Check To Protect focuses on informing all motorists of the online tool, particularly owners of older and used vehicles.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, the recall compliance rate for vehicles up to four years old is 83 percent; the rate decreases significantly to 44 percent for vehicles five to 10 years old. The drop in compliance is attributed to the difficultly in tracking owners of older and used vehicles. Since drivers expect to receive alerts about recalls, they do not tend to check for themselves.

The NSC (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where they can make the most impact.


Watch out for non-DOL websites

October 31, 2017
Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Be careful when considering any licensing or vehicle registration transaction on non-DOL websites.

While many websites offer online services, there is only one official website for the Washington State Department of Licensing:  dol.wa.gov.

Unofficial websites typically charge additional fees.  They may even charge for services that are free at dol.wa.gov.

Worse yet, unofficial websites might never deliver the service you paid to receive.

For a safe, secure transaction without additional fees, please visit dol.wa.gov.

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