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.
October 31, 2017
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.
March 31, 2016
The Washington Legislature recently took action to change our state’s wholesale vehicle dealer license law to stop out-of-state businesses with no connection to Washington from obtaining licenses to conduct vehicle dealer business outside of our state.
The primary changes to this law include requiring wholesale vehicle dealers to only buy vehicles from, and sell to, other Washington state licensed vehicle dealers. It also prohibits more than three wholesale vehicle dealers from sharing a single business location.
Recently, there has been an 800 percent increase in the monthly number of wholesale vehicle dealer licensing applications submitted to the Department of Licensing. These applications are submitted on behalf of out-of-state individuals by Internet-based companies.
These companies advertise the service of taking care of all of the paperwork necessary to set up a Washington business and obtain a Washington wholesale dealer license on behalf of their clients. As a result, these out-of-state business owners are all located at a handful of addresses in our state including a single address in the small town of Wilbur in Eastern Washington used by more than 300 wholesale vehicle dealers as their place of business.
Because these out-of-state wholesale dealers are not located in Washington or doing business here, it is impossible for the Department of Licensing to monitor, investigate or regulate these businesses.
Our state’s wholesale vehicle dealer license law is set up to provide a lot of operational flexibility to companies that only sell buy and sell vehicles at dealer-only auctions or directly to other vehicle dealers. Dealers with this type of license are prohibited from selling vehicles directly to consumers. However, individuals across the country have been taking advantage of our flexible laws and obtaining these licenses in our state with no intention of doing business here.
Other office buildings in Moses Lake, Everett and Spokane Valley also are set up in a similar way to house out-of-state wholesale dealers who are, on paper at least, located together. There is no evidence that any of the hundreds of wholesale dealers have ever stepped foot in any of these facilities. Instead, they pay monthly rent to the owners of these Internet companies and receive mail forwarding services.
This new law (ESSB 6606) takes effect immediately and the Department of Licensing will soon begin notifying current wholesale vehicle dealer licensees of the new requirements.
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.
August 7, 2014
OLYMPIA— 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.
February 6, 2014
Beginning February 10, all new driver license applicants will receive a license that’s valid for six years, as the Department of Licensing starts transitioning from a five-year to a six-year driver license.
New driver license applicants include individuals applying for their first license and those who are transferring their licenses from another state.
The per-year cost for a driver license will remain at $9 per year, but new applicants will pay for the additional year, which changes the fee from $45 to $54, not including the $35 application fee.
Adding a new motorcycle endorsement for up to six years will cost $2 per year.
Washingtonians who are obtaining their first Washington state ID cards will also be issued a card valid for six years beginning on February 10, at a cost of $54, or $9 per year.
Those renewing a current Washington driver licenses or ID cards will start transitioning to a six-year renewal period later this year.
In 2012, the Washington State Legislature authorized extending driver’s license terms from five to six years to improve customer service by reducing customer volumes and wait times in driver license offices.
September 12, 2013
DOL recently introduced two new online services that will save our customers time. The first, our Online Driver License Pre-Application, allows individuals seeking their first Washington State driver license or ID card to start the process online to save themselves time in our offices. When they do visit a driver license office, our staff simply verifies the information provided while validating their identity documents.
The second new online application is designed for teens with an instruction (learner’s) permit. After they successfully complete the required traffic safety course and driver testing at a licensed driver training school, they can go online to finalize their driver license and pay the required licensing fees without another visit to a driver licensing office. After completing the simple online process, their new license is mailed to them, saving them the second visit to a driver license office.