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.


‘We have to do better’: New video shines light on required curriculum for driver training schools

March 22, 2019

Driver Training Required CurriculumA new video produced by the Department of Licensing provides helpful information for driver training schools, parents, and anyone else with an interest in Washington’s driver training required curriculum.

Washington state began implementing the new curriculum in August 2018.

Compared to the previous curriculum, the new curriculum features a stronger emphasis on decision making and attitudes. Of course, it still focuses on the rules of the road, driving maneuvers, and safety. But there’s a new approach to all that learning: How we feel behind the wheel. Specifically, how our attitudes and beliefs affect our decisions when driving.

Examples of self-reflection questions appear at the end of each section of the required curriculum. These questions are aimed at getting students to assess their driving behavior and attitude.

The video also explains how the required curriculum supports the state’s Target Zero program. Target Zero aims to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by 2030.

Check out the video below.


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.


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.


Orca task force makes its final recommendations to Governor Inslee (video)

November 20, 2018

Les Purce (left) and Stephanie Solien of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force speaking at a news conference at the Seattle Aquarium on Friday, November 16, 2018. (WA State DOL image)

(Seattle) The effort to save a small community of killer whales from extinction took a significant step forward Friday when the Southern Resident Orca Task Force released its final recommendations to Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the governor’s website:

The report details potential options to address the major threats to Southern Residents, including prey availability, toxic contaminants and disturbance from noise and vessel traffic.The governor and staff will assess each recommendation for the most impact in the short and long-term.

The governor will roll out his budget and policy priorities in mid-December for consideration during the 2019 Legislative Session.

The report features 36 recommendations largely aimed at increasing the numbers of Chinook salmon for the orcas to eat, reducing noise from boats, and better protecting the orcas from pollution.

The Southern Resident Orca Task Force released its final recommendations during a news conference at the Seattle Aquarium.  You can watch that entire news conference in the video below.

Additional info: 

On March 14, 2018, Governor Inslee signed Executive Order 18-02, Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force. In that order, Gov. Inslee asked the Department of Licensing to assist with outreach efforts supporting the recovery of the Southern Resident Orcas.


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.