The Department of Licensing is partnering with several driver training schools and school district driver training programs in King County to provide driver knowledge and skills testing for individuals applying for a Washington driver license, beginning October 1.
“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. “It also will reduce wait times for other customers who must come into an office.”
The Department is starting with King County because it has the highest licensing office wait times and biggest driving test backlog, as well as the largest percentage of driver training schools in the state. As soon as the program is running smoothly in King County, it will be implemented statewide.
To be able to conduct driver tests, driver training schools must be licensed with the state or be a 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.
The Department will stop offering driver knowledge and skills tests in the West Seattle and Kent licensing service offices beginning October 1. The Department of Licensing will continue to offer tests in licensing offices outside of King County until the program is implemented statewide.
After passing the tests, customers will go to a licensing office to obtain their driver 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 second 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.