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Published on Monday, October 3, 2016

Relicensing workgroup up and running

Following the passage of SB 6360, Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) and the Attorney General’s office convened a workgroup to look at the creation of a statewide relicensing program that would enable drivers whose licenses have been suspended because of their delinquent fines to consolidate those fines into a simple and affordable payment plan. The workgroup includes a representative from cities, counties, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Licensing, the Prosecutor’s Office, a public defender, the Washington State Patrol, and other groups.

The idea for the workgroup came out of many years of work by stakeholders on this issue. Currently, approximately 375,230 Washingtonians have suspended drivers’ licenses – representing almost seven percent of the state's population. Some of these drivers with suspended licenses owe traffic fines in multiple jurisdictions. In order to regain a license, all fines must be paid in each jurisdiction. This can be a difficult task as fines frequently accumulate into thousands of dollars. Most jurisdictions’ payment systems do not “talk” to one another and when a driver finds themselves in a situation where tickets have accumulated, it can be overwhelming to figure out how and who to pay.

The Legislature convened the workgroup to look at the possibility of creating a singular repayment system. AWC would like to see more requirements created before a suspended driver can get their license back. These requirements could be completing classes on safe driving or budgeting.

The workgroup will continue to meet over the next year with a goal of producing a report to the Attorney General by September 15, 2017. The Attorney General must submit a final report detailing its recommendations and the plan to the Supreme Court, the Governor, and appropriate legislative committees no later than December 1, 2017.