Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scared of the DMV?

I'll admit it. I'm scared of the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles). You may have a DMV. We've had those too. They aren't any better.

Since moving in early July, we put off getting our new drivers licenses, new plates, and new vehicle registrations as long as we could, but the time had come to do it.

A long line for lunch
Photo by sylvar

First, I had to locate the nearest agency, find directions, and figure out what documents we would need. This alone caused shallow breathing. I've had more than one rough experience at the BMV--if it isn't getting into the wrong, endless line and having to start over in another endless line, it's not having the proper documents and having to come back.

Thinking I might need a paper bag to avoid hyperventilation, I printed out the locations and stepped away from the computer. Just finding this info took 15 minutes. By the time I clicked throught the various links to figure out what to bring, I needed a break. A three-day break.

So, here's a question for you--do you know where all of your birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, vehicle titles, vehicle loan contracts, registrations, proofs of insurance, and proof of residency documents are located? No? Yes? Well, you're going to have to find them. Because the clerk will NEED THEM ALL.

When I'd tracked all of these down along with a few vials of blood (just in case), we headed to the strip mall across town and got in line. Naturally, we chose the wrong line, but we were blessed. The place hadn't filled up yet. However, things were about to get weird.

We were informed since we were from out of state, we would need to take a written test. Written test?? My palms grew clammy, and I squeaked out, "Are you serious?"

Yes. She was.

I haven't taken a written test since...well, probably since I was fifteen years old. So my husband and I took our matching driver's training booklets, sat in chairs, and proceeded to skim the 85 page manual for the next 20 minutes. Finally, I grew agitated, slapped the booklet shut, and announced I was taking my chances.

We entered the other line. And found out we had to take vision tests too. I fidgeted, wondering if my blurry vision from seasonal allergies would fail me. Luckily, the tester was really nice, and we flew through the test in no time at all.

Then, we each were assigned a station to take the written test. I thought the set-up was pretty cool. Touchscreens gave clear directions and even let you know if your answer was correct. I got a bit worried at a few questions, but managed to pass that bad boy. Score!

Next up? More waiting. We had to get back into the original line to actually get our new licenses. We filled out more paperwork, paid the lady, took our pictures, and sat back down to wait for the new cards.

One step down! So I look sunburned and frightened in my picture--at least I have a valid ID. :)
After this phase, our clerk did a quick inspection of our vehicles, wrote up some paperwork, and sent us three doors down to get new titles. Once completed, we headed back to the BMV and got to the final portion of our trip--the new registrations and plates. When we exited the building, we both sighed in relief, feeling a bit drained.

Let's tally the numbers: Prep work--1.5 hours (researching BMV stuff, finding documents, etc...), heart palpatations and sweat attacks--12 (finding out I might not have the proper proof of residency started them and finding out about the written test didn't help!), actual time at BMV--2 hours, number of checks written--3, feelings of satisfaction that I don't have to go through that for a long, long time--countless!!

Do you fear the department of motor vehicles? Tell me I'm not the only one!

Have a great day!

23 comments:

  1. We don't have any convenient baby-sitters in this area, so when Carl and I have to go update our info, we have to take the children with us. Which explains why we procrastinate so long!

    The worst, for me, was a couple years back when my clerk was a very nice lady with such a thick accent (and the acoustics were, naturally, terrible in there as well) that even I, with my ear for accents, couldn't understand a word she said. I was so embarrassed, and she was obviously getting frustrated, but thankfully Carl had had a college professor with the same accent and so was used to it and able to translate for us.

    Ugh. SO not fun. I feel your pain!

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    1. I'm giggling over my coffee at the thought of your English speaking husband having to TRANSLATE...English! That's so funny--totally made my day!

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  2. You are not alone. In Massachusetts, we have an RMV, or simply The Registry. They used to have lots of convenient locations and a few secret ones where the lines weren't so long. Budget cuts have forced them to close several locations. They set up a new thing where you can renew your license online every 5 years and they just use the old picture. My license expires next year. I'll have to go to The Registry because I renewed online. I'm starting to get heart palpitations just thinking about it.

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    1. The Registry!! Doesn't that sound ominous, like a horror movie? Oh, wait...it IS! Ha! I'll be thinking of you next year!

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  3. We had a horrid experience here in Tx--had to run home to get more paperwork. I dread it in PA--I almost flunked the eye test too cause my eyes get dry at the end of the day.But we didn't have a written test thank heavens-- I would have flunked. I didn't realize you moved out of state--what state are you in now?

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    1. I had a similar experience in Virginia. It's so frustrating to get through all the lines only to have to come back. Grr... Good luck with your move!!

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  4. Wow! Its easier to buy a handgun! Sheesh!

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    1. I never thought of it, but you're right! It is!! Ha!

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  5. Hehehe...I'll never forget my first experience in the Des Moines DMV versus the small town I'd previously lived in. I couldn't figure out why no one smiled at me, why they just hurried me along without chatting! And thus, the small-town girl gets a taste of "the big city." (If Des Moines counts as a big city! Ha! I had the same experience pretty much everywhere I went in London!)

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    1. We've had our share of non-smilers too, but we were thrilled to land in an extremely competent clerk's lane yesterday. I'll take efficient over friendly any day in the BMV! :)

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  6. So not a fan. I'll admit flat out that I failed the test in Seattle. I'm an excellent driver (Rain Man), but I failed as a twenty-something. I thought I had that bad boy in the bag.

    Guess not. :D
    ~ Wendy

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    1. I would have failed if it hadn't been for the quick skim. I mean, who knows the exact number of inches a car is supposed to be parked from the curb, or what this squiggly sign means opposed to that one? And there were questions about bicycles! Ugh!!

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  7. ARgggghhhh. Most government agencies drive me bonkers. What a pain and so badly organized/run. :-( I'm glad you made it through though!

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    1. I'm SO thankful for being able to mail in our renewals! To be fair--we had an extremely competent clerk helping us. What a relief!

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  8. I haven't really had to go since getting my name changed after getting married...and for that I'm thankful! Luckily, I've always managed to go when it wasn't crowded. Score!

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    1. Good!! If you do need to go in the future, be sure to take your passport, or, if you don't have one, bring your marriage certificate with your birth certificate. They need proof with your maiden name on it!

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  9. Here in Indiana, you can do almost everything online or through the mail now. Our BMVs used to be terrible, over-crowded, 2 working clerks, and we would plan on it taking almost an entire day - but they changed the system. Now we have nice BMVs, and at least 15 clerks working at once. And I don't think I spent more than 15 minutes waiting in recent visits. I do remember thinking the clerk was going to ask for blood though.

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    1. From now on, we'll be able to renew online. It's that initial out-of-state stuff we've always had to do in person. :( I told my husband I'm never moving again!

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  10. Going to the DMV is a pain. You need records of your house utilities, lease agreement, birth certificate, third grade report card. Ok, not that last one, but it does seem like they ask the world of you. Every time I've gone, it's been an all-day production. Sit down, stand in line, go here, go there. Blech! My husband and I have changed our registrations and such every year due to being in the military. At this point, I'm simply ready to renew online, lol.

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    1. Oh, I know, boy do I know! We move a lot too, and it's the one thing I dread the most. I'm SO glad to have it over with. I hope you get to the point where you can renew online--it makes life so much easier!

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  11. In Indiana, the BMV is closed on Mondays,open one night during the week and on Saturday mornings. When I worked circulation at the library,I had to print the schedule for the staff because we had people come in and ask us.

    Our local branch moved across town from us-way across town. No one could tell us exactly where it was-general area, not specifical location. I choose to go to the next town north of us and get my business taken care of there.Its up the road and on the other side of the road from the hair salon I go to.

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    1. How inconvenient! I'd go to the next town too, especially if it's near your hair salon. Sounds much better than trying to locate a branch in an unfamiliar area! Yikes!

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  12. YES. I have to go there tomorrow for the first time to get my permit, and I'm scared to death.

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