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.


State gets extension for new federal ID requirements

June 16, 2017

(OLYMPIA) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a REAL ID Act compliance extension to Washington state this week based on legislation signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee last month allowing the state to comply with the remaining provisions of the federal act.

While compliance extensions are issued for up to one year at a time, Homeland Security has indicated to Washington and other states that as they make progress toward complying, they will be renewed through October of 2020. This allows all Washington-issued driver licenses and ID cards to be used for all federal purposes, including commercial air travel, until then. The Department of Licensing is working to be in full compliance with the REAL ID Act by mid-2018.

“A variety of identification documents are acceptable for federal purposes under REAL ID, including U.S. passports and passport cards, military or military dependent ID cards, valid foreign passports or legal permanent resident cards and state-issued enhanced driver licenses or enhanced ID cards,” said Pat Kohler, the Department of Licensing director.

Kohler says the agency will fully implement the legislation next year, but that all licenses and ID cards are expected to be valid for federal purposes through October of 2020.

“The extension gives our residents about three more years to decide if they will need a new type of identification. Many already have acceptable federal identification,” Kohler said.


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.


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.


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.


JBLM will require Real ID compliant driver licenses or IDs beginning April 1

March 1, 2016

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) recently announced new ID requirements for unescorted visitor access at that base and the Yakima Training Center (YTC). These facilities will begin complying with the Federal Real ID Act on April 1, 2016, which means a standard Washington driver license or ID card will not be accepted for entry.

Washington residents who plan on visiting a military base in our state must have an Enhanced Driver License, Enhanced ID Card, or another acceptable form of identification to get a visitor’s pass for unescorted access to these bases. According to Fort Lewis officials, the following documents can be used in place of a standard Washington driver license or ID card:

  • Washington State Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card
  • U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card.
  • Permanent resident card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-551).
  • Foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine readable immigrant visa.
  • Foreign passport with a current arrival-departure record or foreign passport with INS Form I-94/I-94A bearing the same names as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status, if that status authorizes the alien to work for an employer.
  • Employment authorization document that contains a photograph (INS Form I-776).
  • JBLM-issued Rapid Gate Identification
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Transportation Worker ID Card (TWIC) issued by DHS
  • Native American tribal document.
  • U.S. Government issued, authenticated Federal PIV credentials.
  • For anyone under 18, a school identification card with a photograph.

This change affects companies with employees who need unescorted access to JBLM or YTC. It also impacts people who need visitor passes for unescorted base access to visit friends, family, the museums, hospital or other locations.

Washington is one of five states whose standard driver license is not in compliance with the federal law. Washington’s Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards are Real ID Act compliant and require proof of U.S. citizenship, identity and Washington state residence. Learn more about obtaining an Enhanced License or ID at the Department of Licensing website.

Learn more about the new requirement by contacting the Lewis Visitor Center at (253) 967-4794, McChord Field Visitor Center at (253) 982-2588, or YTC Police Desk at (509) 577-3236.

Visit the Department of Homeland Security Website for information about the Real ID Act.