washington driver information
Hello there, Washington driver. We gathered relevant facts, stats, laws, penalties, and licensing info that may be of interest to those of you driving in the Evergreen State.
Driving in Washington
Number of licensed drivers: 5,027,000
Registered vehicles: 5,581,000
Licensing and registration authority: Washington State Department of Licensing
Moving violations and your driving record
Washington uses a traffic ticket system instead of a point system to penalize moving violations.
Racking up a certain number of tickets in a certain period of time can lead to a license suspension. If you're convicted of 6 moving violations in a one-year span, your license will be suspended for 60 days. Four tickets in 12 months or 5 in 24 months results in one year of probation, which can lead to suspension.
DUIs and your driving record
Drivers with a BAC of .08 percent or higher are considered intoxicated. Washington drivers who are convicted of a DUI may lose their licenses from 90 days to 4 years. The length of the suspension depends on any previous DUIs and on the driver's BAC at the time of the violation.
Reporting car accident in Washington
We recommend calling the police to the scene of any car accident. If a police officer comes to the scene, an accident report will be filed for you. But if no police officer responds, you're required to report the incident within 4 days.
You can contact your local police department to get the required form. Any accident that involves injuries or $700 or more in property damage will go on your official driving record.
Distracted driving in Washington
Washington is at the forefront of distracted driving legislation. Drivers are banned from using a handheld device while driving and from texting while driving. There's a $124 fine for drivers convicted of either offense.
Drivers in the military
If you're on active military duty, your Washington drivers license will say "military" where it normally has an expiration date.
Once you're discharged, you have 90 days to renew. Find out more on military licenses on the State Department's official site.
Moving to Washington
Once you establish residency in Washington, you have 30 days to get your new drivers license. If you have a current license from your prior state, you can typically skip the knowledge and driving tests.
Car theft in Washington
There were 15,604 cars stolen in the Tacoma, Seattle, and Bellevue areas in 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Spokane suffered the 4th-highest theft rate (per capita) in the nation with 2,614 stolen cars, and Yakima had the 5th-highest theft rate with 1,308 stolen cars reported.
The top 10 most stolen cars in Washington in 2011 were:
- 1992 Honda Accord
- 1995 Honda Civic
- 1995 Acura Integra
- 1990 Toyota Camry
- 1996 Subaru Legacy
- 1992 Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
- 1994 Nissan Sentra
- 1995 Saturn SI
- 1991 Chevrolet Pickup (small size)
- 2003 Toyota Corolla
While it's legally optional (unless your loan or leasing agent requires it), comprehensive coverage offers financial protection from stolen cars.
Young drivers in Washington
The graduated licensing program in Washington
- Minimum permit age: 15 years old
- Requirements to receive instruction permit: if younger than 15 years 6 months, you must be enrolled in a driver's education course; if older than 15 years 6 months, you must pass a written test
- Minimum permit holding period: 6 months (if under 18)
- Minimum intermediate drivers license age: 16 years old
- Tests required to get intermediate license: written test (if not completed already), vision screening, and road test
- Supervised driving hours needed to apply for an intermediate license: 50 daytime; 10 nighttime
- Passenger restrictions of intermediate license: no passengers under 20 for the first 6 months other than immediate family members; no more than 3 passengers under 20 for the second 6 months other than immediate family members
- Intermediate license becomes a full drivers license: 18 years old (this happens automatically)
Auto insurance in Washington
Find info on all things Washington car insurance, from required coverages to Esurance discounts and more.
Washington State Department of Licensing
Washington residents can head here for all licensing and registration needs.
Washington Department of Transportation
The DOT posts traffic updates to help you plan your commute.