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.


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.

Reminder: All boat registration renewals in Washington state are due by June 30

June 7, 2019

Boat registrations in Washington must be renewed by June 30.

As boating season revs up, make sure you’re not left high and dry. To stay valid, boat registrations are due to be renewed by June 30 each year in Washington state.

Registration decals are good for one year, beginning on July 1. If your boat is currently registered, go online to renew for the coming year. You can also visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office.

If your registration is expired:

  • You can renew online for the current registration year only (before June 30).
  • You can renew online for the coming registration year only after you’ve renewed for the current year.
  • If you have not registered for the current year and wish to renew for the coming year, visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office after July 1.

If you are purchasing a boat or bringing one in from out of state, you must register it within 15 days.

Want to receive reminders by email? Sign up at the Department of Licensing website — just scroll to the bottom and click on “Get or update email reminders.” It takes less than a minute.

If you need further assistance, please call 360-902-3770 or email CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov.


DOL commemorates renewal of driver licensing agreement with Taiwan

May 23, 2019

DOL Director Teresa Berntsen, right, welcomed Alex Fan, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, for a reciprocity agreement renewal signing Thursday.

The Department of Licensing on Thursday commemorated the renewal of an agreement that makes it easier for drivers from Taiwan or Washington state to transfer a license from one place to the other.

The reciprocity agreement allows Taiwan nationals living in Washington, such as college students, to skip the driving and written licensing exams if they are already licensed to drive in Taiwan. Washington residents living in Taiwan have the same option.

In the five years since the initial deal was reached, more than 2,300 Taiwanese drivers have obtained Washington driver licenses through the reciprocity process.

Renewal of the pact was formalized in a signing ceremony in the office of DOL Director Teresa Berntsen, who was joined by Policy and Legislative Director Beau Perschbacher. Representing Taiwan were Alex Fan, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, and consulate Tony, Nien-Tzu, Hu.

“The signing of this agreement highlights the strong relationship between the state of Washington and Taiwan,” Berntsen said. “It also demonstrates our joint commitment to streamline the licensing process.”

Drivers from Taiwan seeking a Washington license will need to visit the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle to have their current license properly translated and verified prior to visiting a DOL licensing service office.

DOL has reciprocity agreements with four other jurisdictions: British Columbia, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.


Picture this: Cameras at every licensing service office counter

March 26, 2019
Tacoma licensing service office

The Tacoma licensing service office served as the model for 25 other locations getting cameras at every customer service touchpoint. This will allow customers to stay with the same representative and have their photo taken without moving to another area.

After a pilot program at the Tacoma licensing service office (LSO) proved successful, the Washington State Department of Licensing is rolling out workstation cameras at 25 of its other offices.

The changes are expected to improve service and efficiency by keeping customers with the same DOL representative, at the same counter, throughout a transaction. Traditionally, customers were directed to another area to have their photo taken before returning to the original counter.

Best of all? Cameras at each station will reduce wait times.

“I am excited to continue to enhance workflow and the customer experience at our LSOs,” said Jean Fetterly, DOL’s acting assistant director for Customer Relations.

Tacoma aside, offices getting cameras include:

  • Lynnwood
  • Seattle West
  • Seattle Downtown
  • Kent
  • Shoreline
  • Puyallup
  • Parkland
  • Federal Way
  • Bel-Red
  • Spokane
  • Spokane Valley
  • Renton
  • Lacey
  • Everett
  • Bremerton
  • Poulsbo
  • Smokey Point
  • Bellingham
  • Kennewick
  • Union Gap
  • Vancouver North
  • Vancouver East
  • Mount Vernon
  • Wenatchee
  • Kelso

All work is expected to be completed by June 2019.

To install the 300 new cameras, 23 of the 26 locations — among DOL’s busiest — need facility modifications. In most cases, these will happen on normal off days. Due to limited contractor availability, a few offices will temporarily close as follows:

  • Seattle West: Friday and Saturday, May 17-18
  • Smokey Point: Tuesday, June 18
  • Spokane: Friday, June 21
  • Spokane Valley: Tuesday, June 25

Find an alternative location, if needed.

Starting in August 2018, DOL began testing cameras at four workstations in Tacoma. The pilot was a success, resulting in shorter transaction times. As a result, in mid-March DOL expanded the pilot to include all 14 workstations in Tacoma.

Feedback from customers and staff alike has been positive.

“This is the biggest change affecting office workflow in a positive way during my 24 years with DOL,” said Jay Glenn, a licensing service representative supervisor in Tacoma.


DOL, Germany commemorate renewal of driver license reciprocity agreement

March 21, 2019

DOL’s Beau Perschbacher, center, and Meg McCann welcomed Uli Fischer, Boris Ruge, and Ulrich Suedbeck (left to right) of Germany.

This week, the Department of Licensing — represented by Beau Perschbacher, center, and Meg McCann — welcomed some special guests from Germany: Uli Fischer, Boris Ruge, and Ulrich Suedbeck (left to right).

They were in Olympia for a ceremonial signing to commemorate the renewal of a driver license reciprocity agreement. The pact allows Germans living in the state to exchange their German license for a Washington one without having to go back through the testing process. The same courtesy is extended to Washingtonians living in Germany.

The agreement has been in place for 14 years, during which time more than 4,000 Germans have obtained Washington driver licenses via the agreement.