Washington Drivers Getting 6-Year Licenses

August 14, 2014

OLYMPIA—Starting this month, most Washington drivers renewing their licenses will have an additional year until their next visit to the Department of Licensing as the state transitions from a five-year driver license renewal cycle to a six-year cycle.

By extending the renewal cycle to six years, drivers in our state won’t have to visit DOL offices as often. Over time, this change also will reduce the number of drivers and ID card holders visiting DOL offices each year. This will help keep wait times as low as possible for all our customers.

The cost of a basic driver license or ID card will remain at $9 per year, but most customers will be paying for an additional year, so the total renewal cost will change from $45 for five years to $54 for six years.

Moving to a six-year driver license is expected to reduce the average number of annual renewals by more than 100,000. In order to evenly distribute all of our state’s licensed drivers into six years of roughly equal and lower renewal volumes, some drivers will be selected to receive a license extension for less than six years.

Beginning August 10, approximately 20 percent of drivers with licenses expiring in October will be selected at random by DOL’s license issuance system to receive a five-year license. The remaining 80 percent will receive a six-year license.

DOL will continue this gradual transition for the next five years by selecting 20 percent of drivers each year to receive licenses valid for less than six years. During the second year of this process, 20 percent of drivers will get a license valid for four years. In the third year, 20 percent will get a license valid for three years. In the fourth year, 20 percent will get a two-year license. In the final year, 20 percent will receive a one-year license.

Drivers randomly selected to receiving shorter renewal periods will only pay for the number of years their license is valid and will be eligible to renew online.

Click here for more info on DOL’s website.


Washington signs driver license agreement with Taiwan

August 7, 2014

reciprocity-agreement-signing-080514-1OLYMPIA— A new driver license reciprocity agreement between Taiwan and Washington state will make life a little easier for drivers wanting to transfer a license from one place to the other.

The agreement allows Taiwan nationals living in Washington, such as university students, to skip the driving and written licensing exams if they are already licensed to drive in Taiwan. It gives the same option to Washington residents living in Taiwan.

“This agreement allows the Department of Licensing to honor the driving tests previously taken by a citizen of Taiwan just like we would when serving a currently licensed driver from another state,” Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler said.

Driver licensing officials here and in Taiwan worked together to evaluate each other’s driver licensing requirements and testing processes. This ensures drivers who hold either license are fully qualified to operate a vehicle safely in both places.

The agreement was finalized at a signing ceremony on August 5th in Olympia. Director General Andy Chin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle joined Licensing Director Kohler in signing the agreement.

The agreement takes effect immediately. Drivers from Taiwan seeking a Washington license will need to visit the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle to have their current license properly translated and verified prior to visiting a DOL driver licensing office.

Lt. Governor Brad Owen signed the agreement as a witness when it was signed by Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei during a trade and cultural mission in June.

“I see this agreement as a small, but important step—one of many—that have been taken in recent times to make commerce, travel and tourism that much easier between Taiwan and the state of Washington,” Owen said.

This is Washington’s fourth international driver license reciprocity agreement. The state has similar agreements with British Columbia, South Korea, and Germany.


More Washington drivers choosing to “embrace life”

September 22, 2010

by Mark Horner

This week’s news that nearly 98-percent of Washington drivers are wearing seat belts reminds us of one our favorite videos of 2010.  Titled Embrace Life, the powerful video has received more than 11.4 million views since its January 29th debut on YouTube.  If you haven’t watched the video, it’s 89-seconds well spent. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 97.6 percent of our state’s drivers are buckling-up this year, an increase of 1.2 percent from 2009.

“The closer we get to 100 percent seat belt use, the more difficult it becomes to realize higher use rates,” said commission Director Lowell Porter.  “To jump from 96.4 to 97.6 percent is truly a significant improvement that moves Washington closer to its goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.”

To paraphrase the  unspoken message of the popular YouTube video, one might say that when Washington residents settle into a car or truck,  more than ever,  they are choosing to embrace life.

-watch the video, Embrace Life


VIDEO: Something new at your local DOL office

September 11, 2009

by Mark Horner

From a distance it might look like an ATM or, perhaps, a 70’s video game console you once huddled-around with friends at the skate deck a generation (or more) ago.  But take a closer look and you’ll find a simple use of some modern technology that can really save you time when you visit a Licensing Service Office.

In a moment, I’ll copy and paste the DOL’s news release about this helpful technology.  And I’ll ad some bonus info, too.  But first, here’s a new video featuring the time saving machines that we’re calling, “self-service stations.”

Now, here’s today’s news release from the DOL:

New options help reduce wait times at licensing service offices

OLYMPIA—The Department of Licensing has installed self service stations in 30 licensing service offices (LSOs) around the state, so customers can skip the wait and take care of many routine online licensing transactions quickly and easily.

Installing self service stations is part of DOL’s commitment to improve service by offering several different service options. A total of 50 self service stations have been installed in 30 DOL offices across the state.

To use the self service stations, customers must pay with a debit or credit card, and be conducting routine business, such as renewing a driver license, ordering a duplicate license, or ordering vehicle tabs. See how a Self Service Station works on our YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/walicensing.

Self Service Stations print a temporary driver license that cannot be used for photo identification. A permanent driver license is mailed within 10 days.

Online services from The Department of Labor and Industries are also available at these Self Service Stations. The home screen allows customers to choose which agency to do business with.

Another new service option is the ability for customers to renew their driver licenses by mail. In the first 30 days of availability, nearly 10,000 customers have skipped a trip to an LSO and instead renewed by mail. Customers eligible to use mail-in renewal will automatically receive a return envelope and instructions with their driver license renewal notice.

Eligible customers can renew their driver license online or by mail every other renewal cycle.

“People eligible to take advantage of our online or mail in service options won’t have to visit an LSO in person more than once every ten years,” DOL Director Liz Luce said. “We are thrilled to give our customers more service options than just visiting a brick and mortar location.”

These new options come as part of Governor Gregoire’s 21st Century Government plan. Under this plan, 10 LSO locations across the state are being consolidated with other offices and many new service options are being made available.

# # #

And now—as promised—the bonus info. Here is a list of DOL office locations where you’ll find the self-service stations.  This list also includes the number of self-service stations at each location.

Bellingham, 2
West Olympia — business licensing, 1
Bremerton, 2
Centralia, 1
Downtown Seattle, 1
Everett, 2
Federal Way, 2
High Way Licensing Building (Olympia), 1
Kelso, 1
Kennewick, 1
Kent, 2
Kirkland, 2
Lacey, 1
Lynnwood, 2
Moses Lake, 1
Mount Vernon, 1
New Supercenter (Bel-Red Road, opening 10/6), 2
Parkland, 2
Pullman, 2
Puyallup, 2
Renton, 2
Shoreline, 1
Smokey Point, 2
Spokane Valley, 2
Spokane, 2
Tacoma, 2
Union Gap,  2
Vancouver East, 1
Vancouver North, 2
West Seattle, 2
Wenatchee, 1

If you use one of our self-service stations, we’d love to hear from you.  As always, we enjoy reading your comments and will carefully consider your input.

Have a great weekend and enjoy this wonderful, late-summer weather!