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Sunnyside among DOL offices that won't be offering testing for licenses

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the Washington State Department of Licensing will continue the expansion of a new program allowing driver training schools and school district driver training programs across the state to conduct driver knowledge and skills testing for new driver's license applicants.

"This program continues to operate smoothly, so we are stopping testing in several more offices as of the first of the year," said DOL Director Alan Haight. "There are even more driver training schools that are ready to conduct drive tests, and we have definitely seen an improvement in the wait times for our customers that must come and visit us."

At the start of 2013 driver knowledge and skills tests will no longer be offered in the licensing service offices of Anacortes, Bremerton, Ephrata, Kelso, Moses Lake, Mount Vernon, Poulsbo, Puyallup, Spokane Valley, Sunnyside, Union Gap and White Salmon.

Previously scheduled drive tests will be honored in these offices. The Department of Licensing will continue to offer tests in areas that don't have driver training schools nearby that offer testing.

To conduct driver tests, driver training schools must be licensed with the state or be 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.

After passing the tests, customers will go to a licensing office to obtain their 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 final 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.

For a list of state-approved driver training schools, go to: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/testing.html.

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