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 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.


Updated Washington Driver Guide now available online and in licensing offices

February 20, 2019

Washington Driver GuideAn updated version of the Washington Driver Guide, which outlines the rules for Washington’s roads and highways, is now online and available for download in seven languages. Hard copies are available in field offices across the state.

All versions of the guide are free.

The guide’s first revision since July 2017 adds new material on, among other things, safely exiting a vehicle; work zones; railroad crossings and the Emergency Notification System (ENS); bicycle boxes and safety; and ferry holding lanes.

You’ll also find information about REAL ID, a federal law that goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2020. As of that date, a standard driver license will no longer allow a person to travel by plane or access certain federal facilities. Learn more about REAL ID and what you’ll need.

The Department of Licensing periodically works with state, federal, and local partners to develop the driver guide, which is used by licensing offices and driver training schools as part of curriculum and testing. It’s a great resource not only for aspiring drivers, but also for long-licensed residents seeking a refresher or clarification on evolving traffic laws.

The guide covers a wide variety of topics, regulations, and signage that drivers need to be aware of in order to safely and legally operate a motor vehicle in the state.

“Careful attention to our driving actions and decisions is critical to making our roads safe for everyone,” DOL Director Teresa Berntsen writes in the guide, noting that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16- to 25-year-olds in the state. “The rules and best practices in this guide are proven tactics to save lives.”

To support DOL’s ongoing efforts to make Washington’s roads safer, Berntsen encourages readers to learn about Target Zero, the state’s ambitious traffic safety plan. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by 2030.

For that to happen, new and established drivers alike will need to lead the way. It starts with knowing the rules of the road, eliminating distractions, and patience and consideration behind the wheel.

To help, DOL offers a wealth of information on its website. You’ll find practice driver tests in English and Spanish, as well as step-by-step instructions for getting a license.

The latest version of the Washington Driver Guide features cover scenery from the Columbia River Gorge and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional), Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Japanese. There are separate guides for motorcycle and sidecar use and commercial drivers.


National Teen Driver Safety Week now underway

October 22, 2018

Click image for larger view of “the 6 rules.”

Each year, more than 100 young people die on Washington roadways. Teen Driver Safety Week, October 21 – 27, aims to help reduce those numbers while raising awareness about teen driving nationwide.

It’s a great opportunity for parents to focus on helping their teens learn how to become better drivers.

The Department of Licensing will be sharing helpful information about teen driver safety on its Twitter and Facebook pages throughout this week.

DOL’s social media will be sharing information about distracted driving, seat belt use, underage drinking, driving under the influence of marijuana, rules for the road, and more.

You can also learn more about teen driver safety on this fact sheet. The sheet includes steps parents can take to help teens become better drivers.

The state’s Target Zero campaign also has this helpful info graphic for parents, too.


Washington State has met all requirements to comply with REAL ID Act

October 8, 2018
ID2020 logo

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID law goes into effect in Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security has determined that Washington State is fully compliant with federal REAL ID requirements, which means standard driver licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted for boarding a domestic flight through September of 2020.

It’s important to know that beginning October 1, 2020, individuals will need to present federally acceptable identification at a TSA checkpoint in order to board a domestic flight.

“Washington residents have two years to look at your identity document options and determine which one best fits your lifestyle,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL Director.  “We created the ID2020 campaign to help residents educate themselves on the various options, and encourage them not to wait until 2020 to make a decision.”

There are a variety of identity documents that can be used to board an airplane or enter secure federal facilities, including:

  • U.S. or foreign Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Military ID
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Enhanced driver license
  • One of several other types of federally approved forms of identification (tsa.gov).

Washington’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are REAL ID compliant, and valid for air travel within the United States and can be used to cross the borders of Canada and Mexico by land or sea. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or military ID.  A full list of document options to obtain an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

The enhanced driver license or ID card is optional. A valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, military ID, or other federally approved identification can be used to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal facilities.  If a resident has another federally approved identification, does not fly, or does not plan to visit a military base or certain federal facilities such as prisons, they do not need an enhanced card and will have the option to apply for a standard driver license or ID card.

Visit ID2020WA.com, to view informational videos, take a quiz to help determine which ID you need, and learn more about REAL ID.

For more information about REAL ID and what it means for Washington, visit the DOL website.


DOL signs agreements with four Latin American General Consulates regarding acceptable proof of identity

September 7, 2018

Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen, and four Consulates Generals of Seattle representing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru, signed an agreement this morning that allows the acceptance of their national ID cards and consulate cards to be used as proof of identity when seeking a Washington State driver license or identification card.

“Today marks a milestone in the Department of Licensing’s efforts to improve customer service and build relationships of trust,” said Berntsen. “We understand the importance of establishing identity when you become a resident of our state.  Working in partnership, we were able to create a process to make it happen.”

The agreements were signed by Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras, Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala, Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú, and Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador.

Group_finalLeft to right: DOL – Brad Benfield, Assistant Director; Meghann McCann, Deputy Director; Beau Perschbacher, Policy and Legislative Director; Teresa Berntsen, Director; Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras; Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala; Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú; Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador; and DOL Outreach Manager Rafael Estevez.

Department of Licensing launches a new, fully modernized driver licensing system

September 4, 2018

Drives logo

The Washington State Department of Licensing launched a modernized driver licensing system over Labor Day weekend. Customers will experience slower service during this transitional time.

The new system will improve services to citizens, agency business partners, and the state’s transportation system. State and federal agencies that rely on DOL data for public safety, licenses, identification cards, and revenue will also benefit from the new system.

This is the second in a series of overhauls to DOL’s legacy systems.  The first phase, which updated vehicle licensing systems, was successfully completed in December 2016.  A third project is planned to address the agency’s Business and Professional Licensing systems.

For more information about DRIVES, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/what-is-drives.html.


We’re Closed

August 31, 2018

The Department of Licensing’s transition to a new and improved computer system is underway, and all driver licensing offices are closed today through the Labor Day weekend. All vehicle licensing offices will be unable to do vehicle transactions and most online services are unavailable through Monday, September 3.

All of these impacted areas—driver licensing offices, vehicle transactions, and online services—will be available on Tuesday, September 4.

DOL apologizes for any inconvenience these closures may cause and we look forward to serving you better than ever before, thanks to our state’s new, user-friendly computer system for driver and vehicle services.

For more information, please visit dol.wa.gov.