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Licensing officials change unpopular address rule

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - The state Department of Licensing (DOL) is changing a recent implementation after hearing complaints from residents who don't get their mail delivered to their homes, but rather to a post office box or other address.

In April, the DOL implemented a rule that required all residents to register their vehicles to their primary address. Prior to that decision, residents only had to give a mailing address, which allowed people to register their vehicles at places in the state other than where they resided.

However, the DOL wanted to get a primary address for several reasons. It would allow authorities to contact a person of problems with their car, such as theft, more quickly and would better notify those who need an emissions test for their vehicle. In light of the creation of new taxing authorities, such as the Seattle Monorail, the DOL also wanted an actual residence address for its records because people pay different amounts to register their vehicles in different parts of the state.

"We wanted to make sure everyone was taxed fairly," said DOL Spokesperson Gigi Zenk.

Some residents who get their mail delivered to a post office box or another address, however, were not pleased with the decision since not all residents who receive mail at another address are trying to skirt their taxes. Shannon McNiece Smith, licensing supervisor at the Sno Falls Credit Union DOL branch in Snoqualmie, said residents get their mail at post office boxes for many reasons, such as mail theft and other safety issues.

"It [first days of new address rule] was horrible," she said. "People were angry."

Although there were exemptions in the law that allowed rural residents to give another address to the DOL besides their permanent address, Zenk also said the state started to realize more people are opting to have their mail delivered to another addresses besides their primary residence.

Smith said she and other licensing agents talked to their state representatives about the complaints they were getting and the DOL acted. The DOL still wants a primary address for the vehicles it licenses, but can't put two addresses in its current system. The DOL decided to let people provide just their mailing address until a system upgrade that will allow the input of two addresses is implemented this November. At that time, the DOL will remind residents that they can give two addresses.

Since the DOL learned of more people getting their mail through other means besides their home address, Zenk said the department will work to avoid any other problems in the future.

"We know it's an issue that will continue to come up," Zenk said.

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