New law prohibits Washington wholesale vehicle dealers from conducting business outside our state

March 31, 2016

Photo of window sign at a wholesale vehicle dealer location showing 180 separate licenseesThe 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.

Photo of interior of wholesale vehicle dealer license location showing long rows of empty desksRecently, 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.


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.


State begins rolling out six-year driver licenses on February 10

February 6, 2014
WA DOL

WA DOL

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.


Department of Licensing launches new, time-saving online driver licensing services

September 12, 2013
WA DOL

WA DOL

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.  

New app helps suspended drivers get their license reinstated

February 7, 2013

The process of getting a suspended license reinstated can seem daunting.  For many, it’s a labyrinth of trying to figure-out which courts and/or agencies must be contacted in order to clear-up unresolved cases.

But now, the Department of Licensing is offering a fast and simple solution people can use to piece all of that information together.

It’s a simple app on the DOL’s website, dol.wa.gov.

“We want to make it as quick and easy as possible for them to get their license back,” said DOL spokesperson Brad Benfield.

After the user enters some basic information, the online app provides a specific list of what that person must do to get his or her license reinstated.

“What we’re finding is that people are able to go online, use the reinstatements program, and systematically work their way through all of the issues that they need to work through to get their license back.   And as they continue to check in on it, those things that they’ve taken care of come off the list until the day when they find out that they’re actually eligible for reinstatement,” Benfield said.

That’s a huge departure from the common scenarios that’ve played-out for years:  people using their valuable time to go to a DOL office or calling the agency as they attempt to figure-out how to get their license reinstated.

Now, all of that information is at a person’s fingertips.  You might say the app puts you at the front of the line.

And it’s free.

Believe it or not, there are companies who charge to provide you with this same information.

Benfield also has this heads-up for people who’ve only  recently learned that their license will be suspended.

“Until that license is actually suspended, they’re not going to be able to use this system because it provides a snapshot of what’s going on with their record on any given day.  If their license hasn’t been suspended yet, (the app’s) not yet going to reflect that. “

The DOL recently produced a video about the app and posted it to its YouTube channel.

YouTube video:  http://youtu.be/LidYMIP6v0c

Driver testing to be conducted outside DOL across the state

November 27, 2012

OLYMPIA— On December 1, the Department of Licensing will expand a new program allowing driver training schools and school district driver training programs across the state to conduct driver knowledge and skills testing for new driver license applicants.

“We started this program in King County and it has gone smoothly,” said DOL Director Alan Haight. “Now driver training schools in many other areas of the state are ready to conduct drive tests, which will remove one of the most time-consuming transactions from our offices. We think this is going to speed things up for other customers who must come into an office.”

As of December 1, driver knowledge and skills tests will no longer be offered in the following licensing service offices: Bellingham, Friday Harbor, Everett, Greenwood, Smokey Point, Renton, Federal Way, Lacey, Parkland, Centralia, Vancouver East, Vancouver North, Kennewick, Chelan, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Davenport, Newport, and Spokane.

Previously scheduled drive tests will be honored in these offices. The Department of Licensing will continue to offer tests in areas that don’t have driver training schools nearby that offer testing.

To conduct driver tests, driver training schools must be licensed with the state or be part of a state-certified public school driver training program. They have to apply for the authority to administer driver testing, and are subject to audits and record checks.

After passing the tests, customers will go to a licensing office to obtain their license. Customers are still required to pay the driver license application fee to DOL. Driver training schools will set the fee they charge for the tests.

The program is the final phase of implementing House Bill 1635, which gives the Department authority to contract with private driver training schools, school districts and motorcycle training schools to conduct some knowledge and skills tests. The bill was passed in an effort to reduce wait times in licensing service offices.

For a list of state-approved driver training schools, go to: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/testing.html.


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