Owners for 32,749 vehicles in Washington to receive a DOL notice about unpaid $15 fee

March 26, 2018

Correction and update / April 2, 2018:  Last month, 749 snow mobile owners were mistakenly sent letters stating that they owed the $15 Out of State Check fee.  However, this fee does not apply to Out of State snow mobiles. DOL regrets this error and has sent out a subsequent letter to these snow mobile owners apologizing for our error.  Because Out of State snow mobiles are not subject to this fee, the revised total number of residents owing the Out of State Vehicle Check fee is 32,000.

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OLYMPIA— Beginning last week, owners for 32,749 vehicles in Washington started receiving a letter from the Department of Licensing asking them to pay a $15 fee that wasn’t collected due to a processing error.

These owners brought their vehicles to Washington from out of state between December 2016 and August 2017, and should have been assessed a $15 Out of State Vehicle Check fee (RCW 46.17.120) at the time they titled their vehicle in Washington State.  The error resulted in approximately $491,000 in uncollected fees, which are required by law to help fund highway safety programs.

Customers will need to pay this outstanding balance prior to their next renewal, and can pay in-person at a vehicle licensing office or online at dol.wa.gov

View this blog post in other languages:

 

Skip a Trip — Go Online. The Department of Licensing has a wide variety of consumer services available online. Please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


Nearly 7,000 Voters to Receive Late Election Ballots

February 6, 2018


Software error prevented transmission of some licensing information to election officials

OLYMPIA — Nearly 7,000 voters will receive ballots this week for the February special election via first class mail due to a software error in the Department of Licensing’s (DOL) driver licensing database system that caused information to not be transmitted to the Office of the Secretary of State’s (OSOS) Voter Registration Division under Washington’s Motor Voter law.

Both OSOS and DOL have been working to ensure voters receive their ballots in time for the February Special Election. The data error was discovered in late January. Working with OSOS, the DOL Information Services team learned that when some customers changed their name (with or without an address change), and were assigned a new driver license number, those changes were made in DOL’s system but were not transmitted to OSOS’s system. Once the error was identified, the DOL team worked over the weekend of January 26 to develop and test a fix to the 30-year-old driver database system. The software fix was released into production on the evening of January 30.

DOL and OSOS worked together to match the voter data in the two systems. They determined the number of impacted voters is 6,969 statewide. These voters will receive special processing to receive ballots this week for the February 2018 election.

“We worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of State to identify and resolve this issue quickly,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We regret these errors occurred and we have put in place new controls that monitor daily transmitted voter information to the Secretary of State to ensure it is complete and accurate. This error underscores the importance of replacing our decades-old driver licensing database system, which is scheduled to occur this September.”

Kohler said DOL appreciates the partnership of the OSOS in this situation, and their willingness to work toward a solution. DOL will also reimburse County Auditors for the cost of mailing ballots to affected voters that didn’t receive ballots.

Voters can verify their address, name and registration information at http://myvote.wa.gov. Questions or concerns about voter status can be directed to county auditors. A full list of county auditors is available here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/viewauditors.aspx.

Read this news release in the following languages:

 

For more information about the Department of Licensing, please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


DOL takes immediate steps to stop disclosure of information to federal immigration authorities

January 15, 2018

OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Licensing is taking immediate action to ensure the agency is safeguarding personal information that can be used to determine immigration status and to uphold the intent of Governor Inslee’s Executive Order 17-01, Reaffirming Washington’s Commitment to Tolerance, Diversity, and Inclusiveness.

 “We support the Executive Order, but failed to meet the Governor’s intent regarding the protection of this type of information,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “We are sorry that our work did not align with our state’s values.

“Our agency did not clearly communicate the nature of all federal law enforcement requests to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. Nor did we seek clarification about how to handle information requested by agencies seeking records related to United States Code (USCs) that contain both criminal and civil immigration violations.

“We are completely focused on correcting our processes and rebuilding trust with all Washington residents,” Kohler said. “We are building a comprehensive plan to ensure greater accountability within the agency.”

In consultation with the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General, DOL announced the following steps:

  • Stopping the release of all records to federal immigration authorities. Moving forward, records will not be released to these entities without a court order signed by a federal judge or magistrate, or under the requirement of state or federal law.
  • Conducting a thorough review of agency processes and computer systems with the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Using emergency rulemaking to end the collection of information that isn’t mandated and could be misused, such as place of birth information gathered during the driver license or ID card application process. Once the emergency rulemaking process begins, information can be found here: http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/driversrules.html.
  • Accepting the resignation of DOL Deputy Director Jeff DeVere’s. DeVere was the executive sponsor overseeing compliance with Executive Order 17-01.
  • Hiring of a community liaison officer to work with community groups to ensure DOL processes, procedures and services meet the needs of all Washington residents. This person, who will report to the agency director, will provide oversight and accountability and coordinate outreach and education to individuals and stakeholder groups.
  • Establishing a new hotline to answer customer concerns and any questions they may have about this issue.
  • Educating DOL staff on all changes made to policies and procedures related to the release of information to law enforcement and ensure all requests are evaluated properly. We also will make sure all staff understand the Governor’s Executive Order and the importance of diversity, tolerance and inclusion.

“I am working closely with stakeholder groups to improve our processes and provide more transparency going forward,” Kohler said.  Washington residents can submit questions or comments to Director Kohler at DOLDirector@dol.wa.gov.

Read this news release in the following languages:


Watch out for non-DOL websites

October 31, 2017
Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Be careful when considering any licensing or vehicle registration transaction on non-DOL websites.

While many websites offer online services, there is only one official website for the Washington State Department of Licensing:  dol.wa.gov.

Unofficial websites typically charge additional fees.  They may even charge for services that are free at dol.wa.gov.

Worse yet, unofficial websites might never deliver the service you paid to receive.

For a safe, secure transaction without additional fees, please visit dol.wa.gov.

VIDEO


Life Hack: Renew your license or ID card online at dol.wa.gov

September 14, 2017

It’s that time again…you get a notice in the mail and now all you have to do is decide when you have time to renew your driver license. If the mere thought of that task feels a little traumatizing, you’re not alone. But we have good news, times have changed and now by visiting DOL.WA.GOV  you can securely renew your license or ID card ONLINE, using your smartphone, tablet, or computer! That means no line, no sacrificed lunch hour and no need to touch up your roots for a new photo.

It’s true that not everyone’s eligible to use our online services every time they need to renew. If you’re a Washington State resident you can only renew online every other time your license or ID expires. But did you know that in the past two years over 400,000 eligible people statewide waited IN-line to renew instead of going ONline? That’s a pretty significant number and it averages out to about 1,700 people per month.  If all of those people had renewed online, it would have made the in-office experience faster and more pleasant for the lady who was there for an eye exam, or the guy who just moved from California. So it’s an option worth checking into if your expiration date is coming up.

Here are the details:

Time to Renew! You have 3 options:

  1. License eXpress
  2. Online (without a License eXpress account)
  3. At a driver licensing office. Be prepared to wait in line. See Tips for visiting an office: Driver licensing offices.

 

Who can’t renew online?

  • You’ll need to visit an office if you:

◦Are under 24 or over 70 years old

◦Need to pass the vision screening

◦Need a new photo taken

 

Not you? Then congratulations, you’re eligible to renew online. You’ll need:

  • A device that allows you to access the internet
  • Your driver license or ID card number
  • Your Social Security number – last 4 digits
  • Visa, MasterCard, or American Express
  • Email address and/or printer

 

Hmmm…What else?….

Will my card have a new photo?

We use the last photo we took. If you want a new photo, you’ll need to visit a driver licensing office.

When will I get my new card?

You should receive it in 2-4 weeks. If you don’t get it within 30 days, please contact us at CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov.

Do I have to download an app?

No.

More questions?

Click here.

Help us spread the word to friends, coworkers, family and everyone else on social media. Don’t be shy, if you have a friend or family member who is new to online services or their electronic device, offer to assist them by sharing  this video and explaining the process.


Drivers need to put down their phones and drive or risk being fined under new law

July 20, 2017

New Distracted Driving Law

Effective July 23, , Washington drivers will not be permitted to hold or operate hand-held electronic devices while they are driving. Use of devices such as cell phones, tablets, video-games and laptops to text, access information, take pictures and talk, even while stopped in traffic, is prohibited under the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act. “Hands-free” devices such as mounted dashboard screens and Bluetooth can be used legally, but only with a single touch to start use.

*Exemptions include drivers using a personal electronic device to contact emergency services; certain transit employees and commercial drivers (within the scope of their employment) and drivers operating authorized emergency vehicles.

In the U.S., distracted driving caused 3,477 traffic deaths in 2015, a 9 percent increase from the year before, and “a deadly epidemic,” according to the National Safety Council. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), 71 percent of distracted drivers are engaging in the most dangerous distraction, using their cell phones behind the wheel. The new law in Washington is part of Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030.

Currently, texting or holding a cellphone to the ear while driving carries a fine of $124 in Washington State. Starting July 23, using a hand-held device while driving will be considered a primary offense and law enforcement will be issuing fines $136-$234 to violators. In addition, a citation will be added to your driving record and reported to insurance providers. You can also receive a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating, or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving, and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

The WTSC recommends the following tips for complying with the new law:

  1. Turn off your phone and put it in the glove box
  2. If you’re a passenger, hold the driver’s phone
  3. Don’t text or call a friend or loved one if you know they are driving
  4. If using GPS on your phone, plug in the address before you start the car and use a mounted phone holder
  5. Talk to family members (especially teen drivers) about the risks of cell phone use. Model responsible behavior by not using your phone while in the car

For more information about the new law visit http://www.wadrivetozero.com/distracted-driving.


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.