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Washington’s Fictitious Driver’s License Program Larger Than First Reported

A new report reveals the state of Washington issued nearly 3,000 fictitious driver’s licenses to police agencies over the last 25 years.

That’s nearly twice as many as originally reported by the Washington Department of Licensing.

The new number captures much of the history of the state’s undercover driver’s license program. The program started in the 1980s and operated until last year without authorization.

A year ago, Licensing reported it had issued some 1,400 fictitious driver’s licenses to undercover police officers and federal agents. Now the agency says since 1988, the true number is almost double that: more than 2,700.

Last year, we reported that the CIA had obtained nearly 300 confidential Washington state driver’s licenses even though it’s not a traditional law enforcement agency. Gov. Jay Inslee later signed legislation to allow the fictitious license program to continue, but said it would only be for undercover or covert law enforcement activities.


Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.