Tag Archives: Department of Licensing

Third drivers permit takes some doing, and then it may be denied

The in basket: Brenda Hamre writes, asking for an explanation of something she has run into with the state Department of Licensing.

“We don’t understand why there is a limit on the number of Driving Permits allowed,”  she said. “Or why DOL gets to make that decision for an individual.

Brenda said her 21-year-old daughter does not have a driver’s license. “While in high school she got her first Driving Permit so she could take Drivers Ed, but didn’t get her license before the first permit expired. Let’s just say that she wasn’t willing to spend much time practicing.

“I then made her get another permit so she would practice driving and finally get her license.

“She started attending Olympic College and we got her an ORCA Card so she could at least use the bus. By the time she decided that the bus was OK but she’d rather be driving, her second permit had expired. This was last June.
“When she went back to the DOL to again renew her permit she was told by the clerk that she had reached her limit and could not have another one. The clerk stated that she ‘just needs to get her license.’ At that point she again had not been behind the wheel in months and I can not afford to pay for her to take a test that she would fail – over and over.

“Now that she is FINALLY motivated to get behind the wheel and bugging me all the time to actually practice driving, we see on the DOL Website that there is a “two permit limit,” so technically she can’t get another one. Ever!

“What in the world is that about? She hasn’t been behind the wheel in almost a year so she needs to practice. My insurance won’t cover her driving a vehicle without a valid permit so I run the risk of something happening to my vehicle which would not be covered. Potentially I could lose my transportation.

I feel like DOL is forcing us to drive illegally and I don’t understand how they can do that!” Brenda said. “My daughter NEEDS to get her license! Can you give me any advice on how she can get another permit so that she can practice driving legally and be covered by insurance? The DOL clerk was NOT helpful.”

The out basket: The door for Brenda’s daughter isn’t shut as tightly as she has been told, though there IS a two permit limit in the law. It’s been that way for decades and Christine Anthony, a spokesman for DOL, could only guess that it was passed to address people who wanted to drive permanently under the restrictions imposed by a permit and never get a license.

She pointed out the following on the DOL Web site addressing the very dilemma Brenda and her daughter face: “We may issue you a third permit under certain circumstances. To request another renewal, visit a drivers licensing office and ask to speak to a supervisor. They will ask what steps you’re taking to ensure you’ll get a driver license if we issue you a third  permit. After you tell them what you’re doing to get a license, the supervisor will decide whether to issue you a new permit.”

Big change coming in getting your drivers license

The in basket: Matt McMillen, co-owner of 911 Driving School in Port Orchard, asked me in an e-mail, “Are you aware that starting Dec. 1, the Department of Licensing is allowing local driving schools to administer the written and driving tests in order to obtain a drivers license?

“At 911 Driving School, we have been doing the written test since 2010, but the driving test is a huge jump!  I think this would be an informative article for your readers. There may be a lot of confusion and questions when the transition happens.”

The out basket: No, I was not aware of that. I hadn’t gotten even a whiff of this happening. So I asked the state DOL about it.

Christine Anthony of DOL replied that this has been going on in King County since Oct. 1, pursuant to a new state law.

“This is a big change in the way we do business and it will remove one of the most time-consuming transactions people have to do in our offices,” said DOL Director Alan Haight in a September news release I hadn’t seen. “It also will reduce wait times for other customers who must come into an office.”

They decided to start in King County, where the waits have been the longest, and set a Dec. 1 date for going statewide, including here. They stopped the written and driving portions of the exams in two King County offices in October.

Christine says driving schools have to apply to do the tests, and so far 911 is the only Kitsap school to do so. State-certified public school driver training programs and motorcycle schools also are eligible.

You don’t have to be a student of the driving school to take the tests, Christine said

All schools qualified by Dec. 1 will be listed by then on the DOL Web site.

Written and driving testing will continue in the DOL offices here as well as at the driving schools for the time being. But the objective is clearly to free up DOL employees for other duties the offices perform and reduce wait times for those services.

No DOL employees are losing their jobs due to the new program, she said.

911 Driving School has been doing the written tests since 2010 under a pilot program that preceded passage of the law that expanded it to the driving skills portion of the test.

In determining what existing DOL offices will continue giving the tests, Christine said, “we are looking at several factors including testing demand, the number of licensed driver training schools in the vicinity, and how far customers would have to travel to take a test. The legislation allows us to continue testing in one licensing service office in each of our eight districts, so we will work toward that direction.”

It will cost more to take the tests at a driving school, but DOL thinks the added convenience will be worth it.

“The DOL fees will be still be charged,” Christine said, “as required by state law.  We believe the increased access to a variety of testing times and locations will be of value to our customers. We have customers now who wait weeks and sometimes months to get into a licensing service office for a drive test.

“Drive training schools can offer tests anytime, not just the hours kept by one of our offices. Also, for customers who are enrolled in a traffic safety education course, many schools roll the test cost into the package price.”

Matt, a State Patrol officer whose partner, Joi Haner, also is an officer with the State Patrol, says 911 will charge $15 for the written test and $35 for the driving test in the applicant’s car. Add $20 to use one of their cars. For $80, you can get a 30-minute warm-up drive before taking the driving test.

Applicants will still have to pay DOL the $35 application fee and, when approved for a license, $45 for the five years the license will be good for.

Vulgar license plate holders OK if they don’t cover the plate

The in basket: Susan Hinckley-Porter of Poulsbo said in July, “I was recently sitting in the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry line and observed a car with a license plate holder that had the following message: ‘Lifetime island resident with bad attitude, f— UW, f— the city, f— CA, f— BC.’ 

“I understand that there are certain words that can not be used on a license plate, but what about the frame holding the license plate?” she asked.

The out basket: I told her that it wouldn’t be actionable if it was on a T-shirt, so it probably would be just as permissible (and as offensive) on a license plate holder. 

That’s true, says Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing. “We don’t have any jurisdiction over a license plate frame or holder,” he said. “However, if the frame or holder is such that it makes (the plate) difficult to read, then law enforcement can step in.”