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

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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.

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


WA DOL issues Emergency Rule

January 26, 2018

(Olympia, WA)  Washington residents who apply for a standard driver license, instruction permit and ID card will no longer be asked to provide their place of birth as part of the application process.

On January 19, 2018 the Department of Licensing (DOL) filed emergency rule making to immediately end the collection of information that isn’t required by state or federal statute. This change takes effect today.

During the 120 day period the emergency rule is in effect, DOL will pursue rule changes in order to permanently eliminate place of birth as a requirement to apply for a driver license or ID card.

After 30 days, DOL will file proposed rule language altering WAC 308‐104‐014. DOL is required to hold a public hearing at least 20 days following submission of text. The rule becomes permanent 31 days from the date DOL files the exact text of the rule and the agency’s response to any written or verbal testimony.

DOL is taking these actions 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.

For more information, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/informationdisclosure.html.


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.

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Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? Consider checking your vehicle for open recalls

January 3, 2018

Become a safer driver in just a few minutes by visiting  http://www.checktoprotect.org/#/, to conduct a fast, free search for open recalls on your car. By entering a vehicle’s year, Identification Number (VIN), make and model you cVehicle an access a list of potential open recalls. The VIN can be found in the lower left corner of a car’s windshield or on the inside of the driver-side door, or on your vehicle’s registration card and possibly on insurance documentation.

Drivers who have open recalls on their vehicles can visit a local authorized dealership to have them repaired for free.

Check To Protect is a national campaign designed to encourage drivers to search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) open recall database by educating drivers about the staggering number of vehicles with unrepaired recalls and underscores the need to promptly fix recalls once drivers become aware of them.

According to NHTSA, there are more than 53 million—or more than one in four—vehicles on the road with unresolved safety recalls. Neglecting recalls could lead to costly vehicle damage and can jeopardize the safety of motorists on the roads.

Launched in June by the National Safety Council (NSC) and founding coalition member, FCA US, Check To Protect focuses on informing all motorists of the online tool, particularly owners of older and used vehicles.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, the recall compliance rate for vehicles up to four years old is 83 percent; the rate decreases significantly to 44 percent for vehicles five to 10 years old. The drop in compliance is attributed to the difficultly in tracking owners of older and used vehicles. Since drivers expect to receive alerts about recalls, they do not tend to check for themselves.

The NSC (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where they can make the most impact.


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.

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State gets a new extension for new federal ID requirements

October 18, 2017

(OLYMPIA) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced all Washington state driver licenses and ID cards can be used for all federal purposes, including commercial air travel, under a REAL ID Act compliance extension that runs through October 10, 2018.

The Department of Licensing (DOL) expects to be in full compliance with the REAL ID Act by fall 2018, under Legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year. DHS has said states that have been determined to be compliant will not be subject to REAL ID enforcement at airports or federal facilities until October 2020 under current federal regulations.

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

When the REAL ID law is enforced in October 2020, no one will be required to get an Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card. 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.