Won’t online driver’s license renewal outdate the photos?

The in basket: Deann Irish thinks its an odd paradox that the state insists that we replace our car license plates every seven years so that the reflectivity of the plates is good and police can see them at night, while the state has introduced online renewal of one’s driver’s license that reuses one’s old license photo on the new license.

Isn’t a current photo of a person stopped by the police a lot more important than a reflective plate, she asked.

The out basket: Brad Benfield of the Department of Licensing says the department and state patrol are aware of that problem, and have put limitations on online renewal to address it. Not everyone is allowed to do it, and no one can do it every time his or her license expires.

“Maintaining a good photo of our licensees was certainly a discussion point when we developed our online renewal process,” he said. They consulted Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies before introducing online renewal,

 “The first requirement that addresses this is not allowing online renewals to occur two times in a row. If you take advantage of online renewal, you will have to come in to a DOL office to renew the next time your license expires, generally in five years. You can renew online only once between trips to our office for a new picture.

 Further, he said, “An individual’s facial appearance changes most when that individual is young and when they begin to show the physical signs of aging. To address this, we don’t allow individuals who are younger than 25 or older than 65 to use this system. We determined that inside of this range, having a picture updated every 10 years is satisfactory.”  

I also asked Brad about online renewal of the new enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards and whether there is any weakening in the state’s resolve to force replacement of license plates every seven years. 

He said the EDLs must be renewed in person every time. As for continued plate replacement, he said, “There have been legislative proposals in recent years to repeal it, but they haven’t passed.”

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