State switching to 6-year driver’s licenses from 5-year cycle

OLYMPIA — The state Department of Licensing is moving from a five-year to a six-year driver’s license cycle.

Effective immediately, most state residents who renew their driver’s licenses will have six years before their next renewal, Department of Licensing spokesman David Bennett said.

The cost of the license remains $9 per year, so the total cost will be $54, up from $45.

The cost of enhanced driver’s licenses, which are acceptable alternatives to passports for re-entry to the U.S. at land and sea border crossings, remains $12 per year, Bennett said.

The six-year license will cost $72, up from $60.

During the five-year transition, which began Aug. 10, about 20 percent of drivers with licenses expiring in October will be selected at random by the department’s licensing issuance system to receive a five-year license.

The remaining 80 percent will receive a six-year license.

This pattern will continue over the next five years — with 20 percent of drivers renewing in 2015 getting a license valid for four years, 20 percent of drivers renewing in 2016 getting a license valid for three years and so on — until 2019, Bennett said.

The same approach applies to standard driver’s licenses and enhanced driver’s licenses.

Licensing officials expect this phased-in strategy to even out the number of renewals each year after 2019, Bennett said.

Now, some years are heavy and some light.

Licensing officials sought the change through the Legislature so licensing staff would not be inundated with license renewals one year and have few the next, Bennett said.

Drivers getting new licenses will automatically receive licenses valid for six years, he said.

Drivers selected for shorter renewal periods will pay only for the number of years their license is valid and will be eligible to renew online, Bennett said.

Extending the renewal cycle will allow drivers to visit Department of Licensing offices less often, he said.

“This levels it all out, is the goal anyway, and in addition, it gives customers an extra year on their licenses, so that’s good news for them,” Bennett said.

More information can be found at www.dol.wa.gov.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

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