Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Washington

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Drivers in Washington who are active duty members of the military, as well as veterans, will want to learn more about some of the basic benefits and driver laws in the state and how they will apply.

Driver’s license veteran designation

Currently, there is no driver’s license veteran designation in the state of Washington, but that is set to change soon. The legislation has already passed, and it will go into effect on August, 30, 2017. At that point, veterans will be able to have their licenses tagged with the word Veteran. This can come in handy when it comes to getting discounts in a number of restaurants, stores, and other places around the state.

Military honor plates

The state of Washington offers a number of different military plates from which you can choose. Some of the plates, such as the Purple Heart, require verification with the VA before you can receive it. The following are all of the plates available.

  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • National Guard
  • Navy
  • Gold Star
  • Disabled American Veteran
  • Purple Heart
  • Former Prisoner of War
  • Medal of Honor
  • Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS)
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Veteran/Military Service Award Emblems

To learn more about the different plates available and how you can receive them, you can visit their site.

Military skills test waiver

In Washington, those who are considering getting a commercial driver’s license may be able to have their skill test waived. To qualify, you need to be currently licensed in the military, and you need to be employed, or have been employed in the last 90 days in a military position that required the operation of equipment that is equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle. If you qualify, you will not have to take the skills part of the test, but you will still have to take the written portion. It is impossible to waive the written test.

To request the waiver, you will need to fill out the test waiver form. The front part of the form is for the service member to fill out. It asks questions about convictions and violations while operating a motor vehicle. The back of the form needs to be filled out by your commanding officer as a means to verify your statements and skills.

Military commercial driver’s license act of 2012

In 2012, the Military Commercial Driver’s License Act was passed. This act allows the licensing authorities in the state of Washington to issue commercial driver’s licenses to military members including those who are on active duty. This legislation applies to service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Reserves, National Guard, Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary even if they are not residents of Washington.

Driver license and registration renewal while deployed

Some drivers in the state who are in the Armed Forces will qualify for driver’s license renewal exemptions. Whether they will qualify will depend on their length of service and the location of service. If you are going to receive an exemption, you need to renew or update your license with the Washington Department of Licensing within 90 days of being discharged. When you are out of state, you can also renew your license. You can do so by mail, or you could request an extension of 12 months. A license with the exemption costs $10.

You can only request the extension if your license is currently valid, and if you do not have any fees owed to the Washington DMV. If you are going to renew when you are out of state, you will need to have a Driver License Replacement/Renewal While Out of State Application, form DLE-520-008.

Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration

Non-residents who are stationed in Washington do not have to get a WA driver’s license. They are allowed to drive with their own license from their state of origin, and so can their dependents and spouse. However, it is possible to get a WA license if they choose. They do not need to register their vehicle in WA either. If they buy a vehicle in Washington, they have the choice of registering in the state or in their home state. Most will choose to register wherever it is cheapest.

If you will be buying a vehicle while you are stationed in Washington, and you will be in the state for more than 90 days, you need to pay the Washington state sales or use tax, even if you decide to register your vehicle in your home state. If you will be there for less than 90 days, you could be exempt from paying taxes.

If you would like to learn more about the laws and requirements in Washington, you can visit the Department of Licensing website.


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