The facts about REAL ID compliance and Washington state

October 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently informed Washington state of their decision to deny our request for a compliance extension for REAL ID requirements. This means starting as early as January 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at some secure federal facilities. This does not affect commercial airline travel at this point. The Department of Licensing has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards since 2008. These will continue to be federally acceptable documents and can be obtained by Washington residents who are U.S. citizens.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, national parks, and, at this time, boarding flights at commercial airports.

At some point in the future, Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will need to use an approved second form of ID with their standard Washington driver license/ID card for boarding domestic commercial airline flights. DHS has indicated that they will announce “the timing and nature” of enforcement for commercial airlines in December, 2015 and that the date will be at least four months from that time. They have provided no further information to states.

It is important to remember that this change will not have significant impacts on typical Washington residents at this time. Most residents don’t regularly visit the secured areas of federal facilities. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally compliant document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents (see below) that will be acceptable by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities. This includes nuclear power plants, military facilities and other facilities that require ID to enter.

  • Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes our state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule. This means our regular driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted at certain secure federal facilities and nuclear power plants – the Department of Homeland Security has not announced a specific date for enforcement to begin at commercial airports.
  • State law currently prohibits the expenditure of state funds to comply with the REAL ID Act. See RCW 46.20.191 and 43.41.390.
  • The Department of Homeland Security compliance schedule indicates REAL ID requirements may be enforced at commercial airports any time after December 31, 2015. However, the exact date remains unknown and at whatever point they announce the date, there will be at least 4-months between the announcement and the date the commercial airport requirements will take effect. DHS has been unclear about specific dates.
  • Since 2008, Washington state has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards that federal officials have certified for use as proof of identity for federal purposes. These documents can be used for any purpose a REAL ID compliant license can be used for and have the additional benefit of being an acceptable form of identification at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations in the Western Hemisphere. They are available to U.S. citizens.
  • Over the past several years, DOL has met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 42) just by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—things we would have done regardless of the REAL ID Act. In addition, we will meet several more of the REAL ID requirements once we move to a new driver license and ID card central issuance system in 2017. Many of the REAL ID requirements will be costly for the state to comply with.
  • Additional forms of identification acceptable for federal purposes include:
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential

Protecting Teen Drivers with 5 simple rules

October 16, 2015

5-to-drive-1National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, and the Washington State Patrol, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, numerous partners around the state, and the Department of Licensing want to encourage parents to use the “5 to Drive” rules to talk to their teen drivers about safety on the road.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens and young adults. In 2014, there were 530 serious injury crashes and 147 fatalities among Washington drivers between the ages of 16 and 25.

“Young drivers need extra support and parents can help reduce the risk of a crash by insisting teens follow our state’s intermediate driver licensing requirements and insisting on safe driving behavior,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We’re promoting the ‘5 to Drive’ rules as a simple, common sense way parents can keep teen drivers safe.”

Parents can easily ask their teens to agree to the following “5 to Drive” rules before handing over their car keys:

“Distracted and impaired driving can be prevented,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “This is an opportunity for parents to act as positive role models and talk to their teenagers about these simple steps to prevent tragedies before they occur.”

For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: It has detailed information and statistics, and informative videos designed to help save the lives of teen drivers.

The video below is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s YouTube channel. This video shows us why it’s important for parents to talk to their teens about this important issue.

New “Training is Everything” videos highlight importance of continued motorcycle training

October 1, 2015

The Washington Motorcycle Safety Program is proud to announce the release of a powerful new public safety video, Training is Everything. This seven minute video, filled with stunning cinematography and powerful interviews, presents a compelling case for all riders to sign up for initial and continued motorcycle training.

The video features motorcycle riders, an elite Army Apache helicopter pilot, champion hydroplane racer Chip Hanauer, rugby players from Seattle Slam, and motorcycle safety specialists. Within it they discuss the importance of training and how the physical and mental skills required to fly combat helicopters, race hydroplanes, and even compete in rugby compare to those required to ride motorcycles.  Pilots, race drivers, and athletes train constantly to be on their game. By doing the same, riders—whether novices or experienced, year-round riders or summer cruisers—can both ride more safely and get more out of themselves and their bikes.

A scene from "Training is Everything." a powerful new public safety video stressing the importance of continued motorcycle training.

A scene from “Training is Everything,” a new public safety video series stressing the importance of continued motorcycle training.

Accompanying the full-length version of the video are two 30-second public service announcements to use as further tools to speak to riders about the main messages of the film—that a large percentage of rider fatalities are, in fact, caused by the riders themselves. By training for the physical and mental art that is motorcycling, riders can get the most from their ride, get home safely, and then go ride more.

Training is Everything, filmed by Twisted Scholar, was made possible through a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Training is everything when you fly, when you race, and when you compete, and training is everything when you ride.

*please note: All three videos in the Training is Everything series are featured in the playlist at the top of this post.

Rider’s cross-country trek promoting motorcycle safety reaches Olympia

July 27, 2015
Nate Hudson and DOL Director Pat Kohler holding a copy of the video, "A Second Look," in Olympia on July 23.

Nate Hudson and DOL Director Pat Kohler holding a copy of the video, “A Second Look,” in Olympia on July 23.

Motorcyclist Nate Hudson is logging 17,000 miles during the course of the “Ride for Awareness” campaign, sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

On July 23, Hudson’s journey reached Olympia, where he spoke with Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler.

Hudson praised Washington state’s efforts to protect riders on the roads, including the DOL’s video,  A Second Look.

The video addresses the role of motorists concerning motorcycle safety.

For more information about the Ride for Awareness campaign, visit

And for regular updates on Hudson’s whereabouts as he travels the country, checkout

Washington state to be recognized for its motorcycle safety efforts

July 20, 2015

Photo taken at site of a Motorcycle Skills Test.

A lone motorcycle rider is crossing the country to visit all 50 states to spread awareness about the important role motorists play in protecting motorcycle riders.

Nate Hudson first rode a motorcycle at age 16. That was 20 years–and 200,000 miles–ago.

Hudson’s now about to log 17,000 more miles during the course of the “Ride for Awareness” campaign, sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

Hudson will stop in Olympia on Thursday, July 23, to talk about motorcycle safety and promote Washington state’s efforts to protect riders on the roads.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there 1,934 motorcycle accidents in 2013, resulting in 73 fatalities. The state reports that in 2013 a motorcyclist was in a crash every four hours.

For more information about the Ride for Awareness campaign, visit

And for regular updates on Hudson’s whereabouts as he travels the country, checkout

The Department of Licensing’s video, A Second Look, directly addresses the role of motorists concerning motorcycle safety.

That video appears below.

Law designed to reduce abuse of disabled parking takes effect July 1

June 26, 2015

OLYMPIA – Changes to the laws governing special parking privileges for persons with disabilities will take effect July 1 and are aimed at reducing the number of people who abuse disabled parking permits.

Changes include requiring a written prescription from a licensed health care provider to obtain disabled parking privileges and requiring a new application for every renewal. The application also includes a new fraud warning on the application to remind applicants and healthcare providers it is a gross misdemeanor if they knowingly provide false information.
The new laws also extend temporary parking placards from up to six months to up to 12 months and increases the penalty of illegally obtaining a disabled parking placard, license plate, tab, or identification card from a traffic infraction to a misdemeanor.
The changes were recommended by a group formed to develop a plan to eliminate abuse of the program. Participants included Department of Licensing, Department of Health, disabled citizen advocacy groups and local governments. The work group also gathered input from the public.
These changes were included in Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2463 passed by the Legislature in 2014. More information is available at

Full implementation of Wheeled All-terrain Vehicles legislation begins May 18

June 1, 2015

Full implementation of Wheeled All-terrain Vehicles (WATVs) legislation (ESHB 1632) will begin May 18, 2015.

The department has been licensing WATVs through a manual process since October 2013 and began issuing metal tags through a modified manual process in June 2014.

A WATV is –

(a) any motorized nonhighway vehicle with handlebars that is fifty inches or less in width, has a seat height of at least twenty inches, weighs less than one thousand five hundred pounds, and has four tires having a diameter of thirty inches or less; or

(b) a utility-type vehicle designed for and capable of travel over designated roads that travels on four or more low-pressure tires of twenty psi or less, has a maximum width less than seventy-four inches, has a maximum weight less than two thousand pounds, has a wheelbase of one hundred ten inches or less, and satisfies at least one of the following: (i) Has a minimum width of fifty inches; (ii) has a minimum weight of at least nine hundred pounds; or (iii) has a wheelbase of over sixty-one inches.

Unlike off-road vehicles (ORVs), the WATV is identified by a metal tag and tabs. The metal tag will have tabs indicating whether the vehicle is licensed for off-road use or off-road and on-road use.

Metal tags will be mailed from the special license plate unit at the department’s headquarters office. Tabs will be available at any vehicle licensing office, for replacement or renewal.



Before being licensed for on-road use, the WATV must have a safety inspection and VIN verification by a licensed Washington ATV dealer/repair shop and must meet equipment requirements contained in RCW 46.09.457. The WATV owner must provide a signed declaration which also contains a release of liability.

Authorized use 

Licensing the vehicle for on-road use does not qualify the vehicle to travel on any roadway. Users are cautioned to verify where a WATV is authorized to be operated. This can be done by visiting the town, city, or county webpage in which a user wishes to operate the vehicle.

Licensing of the vehicle is not restricted to these areas.


The $18 off-road licensing fee is deposited in the non-highway and off-road vehicle activities program account.

The $12 on-road licensing fee is deposited in the multiuse roadway safety account.


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