REAL ID update: Legislation to bring Washington into compliance with REAL ID filed for upcoming session

December 14, 2016

DOL is aware of the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to begin posting signs in airports across the country announcing the January 2018 date for requiring a federally compliant form of identification to board domestic commercial flights under the REAL ID Act. It is important for all Washington residents to know that a regular Washington state driver license or ID card will be acceptable for commercial air travel until at least the 2018 deadline. There are many options for federally-compliant ID, including passports or passport cards or DOL’s Enhanced Driver License/ID Card. Washington residents have time to research their ID card options and determine if they already have a federally acceptable document or need to get one.

Legislation approved by Gov. Inslee to bring Washington state into compliance with the REAL ID Act was sponsored by the Chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees this week for consideration by the Legislature. Washington state law is not currently in compliance with REAL ID Act standards.

The legislation, similar to a plan DOL brought forward two years ago, will repeal current state law prohibiting DOL from complying with the REAL ID Act, give DOL the authority to add federally required markings to our state’s standard driver licenses and reduce the cost of enhanced licenses and ID cards for a period of four years.

If this proposed legislation becomes law, under current federal standards, our state will likely be granted a REAL ID compliance extension that will allow a regular Washington driver license or ID card to be used for all federal purposes, including boarding commercial flights, until October 2020.

Here are a few types of ID documents that are valid for air travel and other federal purposes: U.S. or foreign passports, U.S. passport cards, U.S. military ID, permanent resident card, tribal-issued ID cards from federally recognized tribes, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card) and several other types of identification. A complete list is available at the Transportation Security Administration website.


New web tool helps consumers identify vehicle safety recalls

December 5, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that vehicle recalls are at an all-time high, meaning millions of unfixed and unsafe vehicles are on the road.

NHTSA’s new online search tool lets you enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to quickly learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

You can find NHTSA’s new VIN search tool at www.safercar.gov/VIN.

NHTSA stresses that vehicles in need of safety-related repairs should be fixed as soon as possible, and that doing so could save lives.


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.


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.


It’s time to renew: 2016 boat decals expire June 30

June 8, 2016
Everett Marina with Mt. Baker

DOL

OLYMPIA—Boating season is here, and the deadline for renewing boat and watercraft registration decals is right around the corner.

All Washington state boat registrations expire on June 30.

Don’t let an expired registration spoil your day; remember to renew before you get out on the water.

Boat registrations can be renewed online at the DOL website or in person at a neighborhood vehicle licensing office.

Those who choose to renew at an office should make sure to note the registration number on the bow of the boat or watercraft and take that information to the office.


May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May 11, 2016

motorcycle safety transit ad

Rising temperatures in our state mean an increasing number of motorcycle riders will be out on our roads. These riders can be difficult to see on busy roads because of their smaller size and profile. Motorists should take an extra moment to look twice. A second look can save a motorcyclist’s life.

May is nationally recognized as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to bring attention to motorcycle safety. In 2015, 72 riders lost their lives in motorcycle collisions. That’s 72 people who went for a ride and did not make it home.

“Motorcycle safety depends both on motorists sharing the road with motorcycles and motorcyclists making good decisions to help them reach their destinations safely.  If everyone does their part, I am confident we will see fatalities drop in 2016,” said Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler.

To help drivers understand what they can do to make roads safer for motorcyclists, the DOL’s Motorcycle Safety Program created a motorcycle awareness video called “A Second Look” that has received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and millions of shares around the world on Facebook.

In 2015, 73 percent of the motorcycle fatalities were the fault of the rider, with the top three causes being alcohol or drug impairment, rider negligence, or excessive speed. Riders have the ability to minimize or eliminate these risks through continued training.

DOL’s Motorcycle Safety Program will promote the benefits of motorcycle rider training this year with an exciting new video called “Training is Everything”.

Emphasizing the importance of choices and consequences while riding, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission created the IT’S A FINE LINE website filled with interesting information and opportunities to get involved with state motorcycle safety efforts.

More information about motorcycle safety training and motorcycle endorsement requirements is available on the DOL website.

The playlist below features six videos concerning motorcycle safety, including the videos mentioned in this blog post.


New law prohibits Washington wholesale vehicle dealers from conducting business outside our state

March 31, 2016

Photo of window sign at a wholesale vehicle dealer location showing 180 separate licenseesThe Washington Legislature recently took action to change our state’s wholesale vehicle dealer license law to stop out-of-state businesses with no connection to Washington from obtaining licenses to conduct vehicle dealer business outside of our state.

The primary changes to this law include requiring wholesale vehicle dealers to only buy vehicles from, and sell to, other Washington state licensed vehicle dealers. It also prohibits more than three wholesale vehicle dealers from sharing a single business location.

Photo of interior of wholesale vehicle dealer license location showing long rows of empty desksRecently, there has been an 800 percent increase in the monthly number of wholesale vehicle dealer licensing applications submitted to the Department of Licensing. These applications are submitted on behalf of out-of-state individuals by Internet-based companies.

These companies advertise the service of taking care of all of the paperwork necessary to set up a Washington business and obtain a Washington wholesale dealer license on behalf of their clients. As a result, these out-of-state business owners are all located at a handful of addresses in our state including a single address in the small town of Wilbur in Eastern Washington used by more than 300 wholesale vehicle dealers as their place of business.

Because these out-of-state wholesale dealers are not located in Washington or doing business here, it is impossible for the Department of Licensing to monitor, investigate or regulate these businesses.

Our state’s wholesale vehicle dealer license law is set up to provide a lot of operational flexibility to companies that only sell buy and sell vehicles at dealer-only auctions or directly to other vehicle dealers. Dealers with this type of license are prohibited from selling vehicles directly to consumers. However, individuals across the country have been taking advantage of our flexible laws and obtaining these licenses in our state with no intention of doing business here.

Other office buildings in Moses Lake, Everett and Spokane Valley also are set up in a similar way to house out-of-state wholesale dealers who are, on paper at least, located together. There is no evidence that any of the hundreds of wholesale dealers have ever stepped foot in any of these facilities. Instead, they pay monthly rent to the owners of these Internet companies and receive mail forwarding services.

This new law (ESSB 6606) takes effect immediately and the Department of Licensing will soon begin notifying current wholesale vehicle dealer licensees of the new requirements.