Go online and you may be able to skip waiting in line at DOL

July 11, 2017

Since 2015, more than 400,000 customers waited in line unnecessarily at Washington State driver licensing offices for transactions they could have completed from the comfort of home by visiting dol.wa.gov.

If all 400,000 had gone online, the result would have been an average of 13,000 fewer people in line per month. Less in-office traffic means downsized wait times so that customers can quickly get back to the responsibilities and activities in their lives that matter.

Our online services don’t eliminate the need for all in-office transactions, however many common licensing needs such as changing an address or renewing a license can be easily completed on your phone or computer. The information provided at dol.wa.gov can help also you avoid long wait times and unnecessary trips.

Plan on visiting us soon? Review the following reminders for a more efficient experience:

 

  1. Skip a trip, renew online

Did you know that you only need to update your driver license photo every other renewal cycle? That’s once every twelve years! If you don’t need a new photo, just go to dol.wa.gov to see if you can renew and skip the line! You’ll conveniently receive a new license within days and avoid having to come up with a clever hashtag to accompany that obligatory “never ending line at the DOL” tweet. Unsure about whether the services you need are offered online or if you are eligible to renew online? Check out DOL’s online services page.

  1. Know before you go

Arriving at the front of the line just to discover the piece of identification necessary to complete your transaction is sitting on the kitchen counter at home is everyone’s least favorite way to wrap up lunch hour. Visit dol.wa.gov to find out which documents and identification you’ll need to bring in so that our staff can take care of your licensing needs. Also keep in mind that we are not able to accept photocopies of documents.

  1. Visit during the middle of the week

If you must visit an office in person, try to head in before noon — preferably during the middle of the week.

  1. Beware the lunch hour line

This may seem like a given, but please let us reiterate: Do not visit a licensing office between noon and one pm! We guarantee that on any given afternoon several other people had the exact same idea and staffing may be more limited due to staff rotating off the counter to take their lunch break.

 

  1. Check the calendar for holidays

We know your ideal Christmas Eve would be spent refreshing your newsfeed while waiting for your number to be called, but please avoid visiting us on holidays, as our offices are usually closed. When in doubt, go online to check the hours of operation of the office you plan to visit and remember to anticipate a spike in wait times in the days prior to and following a long weekend.


New law gives Washington more time for federal ID requirement changes

May 18, 2017

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law this week a measure that brings Washington state into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, giving residents likely until 2020 before the new federal ID requirements will affect travelers with a Washington driver license or ID card and those seeking entry into some federal facilities and military bases.

That’s because the new law is expected to gain our state a REAL ID compliance extension that will allow a standard Washington driver license or ID card to be used for all federal purposes, including boarding commercial flights until then. Washington joins the ranks of about 20 other states with compliance extensions while they work to implement the federally-mandated changes.

Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards will become Washington state’s federally-compliant ID document for domestic air travel and entry into secure areas of federal facilities, but it’s important to remember there are other types of documents that are already valid for federal purposes now and into the future. You may already have one: U.S. or foreign passports, U.S. Passport Cards, military ID, permanent resident cards, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card), and several other documents. A complete list is available here.

The new law also lowers the price of state-issued Enhanced Driver Licenses from $108 to $78 starting in late July.

Washington state is currently under a temporary compliance extension and federal officials were provided a formal request for a compliance extension this week after Gov. Inslee signed the legislation into law.


New Washington driver license and ID cards

February 17, 2017

(Post updated March 13, 2:13pm with new sample driver license image)

Washington state is starting to issue newly designed driver licenses and ID cards aimed at better protecting residents from identity theft.

“This new card system has incredible security features in it that will really decrease the amount of counterfeit cards that exist in the world,” said Pat Kohler, director of the state’s Department of Licensing.

Those security features include fine-line printing and ultraviolet ink.

The state will roll-out the new cards over the next several months, beginning at its licensing office in Shelton.

“And sometime this summer, we would finish the roll-out at all of our 56 offices,” Kohler said.

The new licenses and ID cards have a new look, but their functions haven’t changed. The Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards (EDLs/EIDs) can be used for all federal identification purposes, including: entering secure federal facilities and, following the January 2018 federal compliance deadline, boarding domestic flights at commercial airports. Standard driver licenses and ID cards are still not valid for these federal purposes.

flyer is available to learn more about these changes and to make sharing this valuable information easy.

 

                                                                       NEW LOOK DOCUMENTS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

New header colors on WA driver licenses, enhanced driver license, ID cards

New header colors on WA driver licenses, enhanced driver license, ID cards

Want the new driver license before its available at your local licensing office?

Residents who are eligible to renew their license online will automatically receive the new-look license.

In fact, all documents purchased online will now be issued with the state’s new updates. Those documents also include ID cards, enhanced driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and temporary licenses.

 

BUT WHAT ABOUT MY CURRENT DRIVER LICENSE OR ID CARD?

You might be wondering, So, what about my current driver license?

Kohler said people don’t need to worry because all current licenses will remain valid until they expire, so nobody needs to make a special trip to have their license or ID card replaced.

 

TEMPORARY LICENSE WILL NO LONGER HAVE A PHOTO

Temporary licenses issued in driver licensing offices will now be printed on a full sheet of paper instead of being a paper copy of the actual license. This is similar to how it’s already done online, and will no longer include a photo.

Kohler said removing the photo should help prevent identity theft.

“The current temporary driver’s license is so similar to your original driver’s license that you get in the mail, it creates a false sense of security (because it is simply a temporary document).”

 

“HOW CAN WE IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE FOR THE CUSTOMER?”

Kohler said the process of updating the state’s Central Issuance System also presented an opportunity at its licensing offices.

“It was great opportunity for us to look at process improvement, and look at how our customers flowed through the office,” she said.

A decision was made to change that flow.

Upon arriving at a licensing office, a customer’s first contact will now be with someone who will review their documents.

Kohler said this change is aimed at ensuring the customer arrived with the correct documentation needed for obtaining a driver license or ID card.

“This will save our customers a lot of time,” Kohler enthused. “They won’t have to sit around and wait, then come up and find out that they didn’t have the required documents.  They’ll immediately be able to find that out and be able to know what they need to come back with.  And at the same time, it doesn’t back up the line.”

Expect to see this new customer flow, wherein documents are reviewed upon the customer’s arrival, at all licensing offices by this summer.

 

VIDEO

The video below offers additional information about the state’s new driver licenses and ID cards.

 

DOL ONLINE

The Department of Licensing’s website is dol.wa.gov.


DOL vehicle licensing system will be down on December 10 for system replacement

November 23, 2016

drives-logoOn December 12, 2016, the Washington State Department of Licensing will begin using a new, state-of-the-art computer system for all vehicle and boat title and registration transactions statewide. This new system replaces a 30-year-old, text-based system with a modern system used successfully in several other states across the country.

The launch of this new system will have a few customer service impacts both before and after it is turned on Dec. 12:

  • Online vehicle tab renewal will be offline from midnight on Dec. 6 until the new system is turned on Dec. 12. Other vehicle-related online services, like online filing of a report of sale, online vehicle or boat change of address, and other types of vehicle or boat online transactions or look-ups, will be offline from the evening of Friday, Dec. 9 until the new system is turned on Dec. 12.
  • Licensing offices across the state may close a little early on Friday, Dec. 9 to ensure all transactions are finalized prior to shutting down the old computer system on Friday evening.
  • All vehicle licensing offices will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 10.
  • Following the launch on Dec. 12, customers may experience longer office wait times as vehicle licensing office staff become comfortable processing transactions using the new system. DOL is asking customers for patience in the days immediately following the launch.

“The new system is a tremendous new tool to make our jobs faster and easier,” Licensing Director Pat Kohler said. “We’ve invested in training to teach our users how to use it, but until they get comfortable processing real transactions with real customers, we expect office wait times to be a little longer than usual.”

Vehicle licensing customers can avoid longer wait times by taking care of annual tab renewals in vehicle licensing offices prior to Dec. 9 or online prior to Dec. 6.

The new system, called DRIVES, is being rolled out in two phases between Dec. 2016 and June 2018. The first phase replaces DOL’s obsolete vehicle and boat titling and registration computer systems. The second phase, scheduled for June 2018, will replace DOL’s obsolete driver licensing systems.

When completed, the new DRIVES system will provide all of our customers, employees and business partners with better, more reliable systems and processes, provide more accurate records for law enforcement use, and allow for faster and easier system changes to support new or changing laws and business processes.


Buyer beware of flood-damaged vehicles for sale

September 16, 2016

OLYMPIA—Following recent flooding in Louisiana that left as many as 100,000 vehicles seriously damaged, unsuspecting buyers across the nation are being warned to do their homework before purchasing a used vehicle.

Many of these vehicles are expected to be transported from state to state, repaired and put back on the market at auto auctions, used car dealerships, and even by private sellers.

Consumers in Washington should take extra precautions by adding flood damage to the list of concerns to be aware of when purchasing a used vehicle.

After being cleaned up, these vehicles may look like any other vehicle on the surface. However, there are significant mechanical, safety and health risks associated with flood-damaged vehicles.

Dirty floodwater causes rust and damages major mechanical parts and safety systems such as engines, air bags, anti-lock brakes and transmissions. The water also damages electrical systems, especially on-board computers that are often located under seats or in other low points in vehicles.

These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:

  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.”
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.

More DOL offices to offer enhanced and commercial driver license services

July 1, 2016

The Department of Licensing is expanding the number of offices where customers can obtain enhanced driver licenses, enhanced ID cards, commercial driver licenses and commercial instruction permits from 27 locations to 40 locations.

“Governor Inslee approved our plan to expand these services and it was funded by the Legislature,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “This will make getting enhanced or commercial licenses much more convenient for our customers and we expect it to help reduce wait times in many of our larger offices currently handling large numbers of commercial and enhanced driver license transactions.”

The Department of Licensing can’t offer these types of licenses in 16 of it’s smaller locations because they lack the staffing or equipment required to meet federal requirements for issuing documents that require applicants to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or proof of legal presence in the United States.

Enhanced driver licenses and ID cards, commercial driver licenses and commercial learner permits will now be offered at these driver licensing office locations:

  • Bellingham
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Oak Harbor*
  • Port Angeles
  • Bremerton
  • Poulsbo*
  • Downtown Seattle
  • Everett*
  • Lynnwood
  • Smokey Point
  • Shoreline*
  • Bellevue-Redmond
  • Kent*
  • North Bend*
  • Renton
  • West Seattle
  • Federal Way*
  • Lacey
  • Parkland
  • Puyallup
  • Shelton*
  • Tacoma
  • Hoquiam
  • Centralia*
  • North Vancouver
  • East Vancouver*
  • Kelso
  • Kennewick
  • Sunnyside*
  • Union Gap
  • Walla Walla
  • Ephrata*
  • Moses Lake
  • Omak
  • Wenatchee
  • Ellensburg
  • Colville
  • Spokane Valley*
  • Spokane
  • Pullman

* Newly added

Please note:  Once issued, enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards can be renewed at any driver license office, online or by mail. Customers who need to apply for a name change on an enhanced driver license or ID card are required to visit one of the offices above. Also, commercial driver license customers must always renew in person at one of the offices listed above.


Fuel tax, some licensing fees will increase July 1

June 10, 2016

Washington State Department of Licensing blog logo

OLYMPIA—On July 1, 2016, state fuel tax and several licensing related fee increases will go into effect in Washington. The increases were approved by the Legislature in 2015 as part of Connecting Washington, a transportation package to fund many important, impactful transportation projects around our state.

These projects include highway and local road construction and maintenance, bike path and walkway projects, rail and transit projects, ferry system improvements and fish barrier removal.

The state fuel tax for both gas and diesel will increase by 4.9 cents to 49.4 cents. State fuel taxes provide funding for state, county and city transportation projects and maintenance, ferry construction and operations and other transportation-related needs.

The Enhanced Driver License fee will increase to $9 per year. This means the cost to upgrade a standard, six-year driver license or ID card to an Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card will increase from $18 to $54. Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards are available to U.S. citizens as federally approved identification that can be used in place of a U.S. Passport at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations.

Several commercial driver license (CDL) fees are increasing. The fee for obtaining a CDL instruction permit will increase from $10 to $40. CDL knowledge (written) tests will increase from $10 to $35, CDL skills (driving) tests will increase from $100 to $250 except for the school bus driver test, which will remain $100. The new CDL skills test fee will allow a driver to take one no-charge retest if the test isn’t passed on the first attempt.

The electric vehicle renewal fee increases $50, from $100 to $150. This fee is collected to mitigate the impact of electric vehicles, which pay little or no fuel taxes, on our state’s roads and highways.

Annual motor vehicle weight fees for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles up to 14,000 pounds that pay the state’s $30 basic registration fee will increase. The amount of the increase will range from $15 to $35 depending on the weight of the vehicle. For example, the motor vehicle weight fee for a passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or less will increase by $15, from $10 to $25.

Gross weight license fees for trucks, commercial vehicles, and other types of vehicles up to 10,000 pounds that are not subject to the state’s $30 basic registration fee also will increase. The amount of this increase also will range from $15 to $35. A new freight project fee will be collected on vehicles subject to the gross weight license fee with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds. This fee will be 15 percent of the gross weight license fee due at the time of annual registration.