Out-of-state tickets can derail driver's license renewal




Posted on May 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 11 at 6:26 PM

Getting a surprise when you renew your driver's license is never a good thing, especially when that surprise involves tickets from a long time ago.

William Drescher, a KING-TV employee, recently had the brakes put on his Washington driver's license renewal because of an unpaid ticket he supposedly received in Massachusetts almost 20 years ago.

"I never saw the ticket," said William. "I have no recollection of ever getting pulled over or seeing the ticket on the car."

Before DOL could issue William a new license, he'd have to pay the $140 ticket. But Washington state can make you deal with that out-of-state problem right here because, thanks to the federal government, the states are sharing driver data.

"It's come as a surprise to a lot of people who come in and have one of these issues to deal with," said Brad Benfield with DOL.

He says lots of folks are getting caught off guard. This has been happening for a year, but it seems the word hasn't reached everyone.

"What we find is that some people they wait and they don't come in until the last minute to renew their license. It kind of puts them in a jam," said Benfield.

Here's the other problem: DOL can't tell you ahead of time if you've got a problem in another state. But I've got the solution; go to the DOL website and request a record check from the national driver register. You have to mail it in and they will let you know if you've been suspended or revoked in another state.

If you are suspended for a parking ticket, the state will allow you to get your license. If you were suspended for any other type of violation, you are on your own.

I hear the state is working on a plan to allow people who are caught off guard to get a 45-day temporary license. Still, you should request your driver record ahead of time.