Why Is The DMV Messing With Us?!
My birthday is rolling around and the required years have ticked off, so I’ve got to go to DMV to renew my Driver’s License. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has an online portal for renewals so it should be a slam dunk – right??
Uh – no. Things have changed just a little.
How The DMV Used To Be
When I turned 14 and had finished 8th grade, I was officially in high school, and could thus enroll in the first summer session of the local high school’s Driver’s Education program. Two weeks later I went down to the local police station, showed them my birth certificate and certificate of completion in the Driver’s Ed program, took a five minute written test (red means stop and green means go), drove around the block with the examiner and parallel parked. Back at the station, they pulled out a blank pink Driver’s License, typed in my info – and I was legal to drive a passenger vehicle anywhere in the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
On the day of my sixteenth birthday, I borrowed one of my dad’s company superintendent’s pickups (because it had truck license plates – it was a commercial vehicle and different driver’s license), went to the local police station, took a ten minute written test (I’ll never exceed the legal axle weights), drove around the block with the examiner and parallel parked. Back at the station, they pulled out a blank green Driver’s License, typed in my info – and I was legal to drive ANY vehicle anywhere in the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
When The DMV Started Changing
Then things started changing. At the next renewal, I had to take a vision test for the first time. At a later renewal I got my picture taken and had a temporary paper license until my laminated picture one arrived from the state. Then you had to show proof of insurance. Then the national CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) stuff started. There was a whole series of written tests that had to be passed if you wanted to be able to operate “everything.” I was working for a company that had a bunch of truck drivers, so I got appointed as coach to tutor all of them through the Basic CDL and the endorsement tests for:
Over 26,000 Gross Vehicular Weight,
Passenger Vehicles (Commercial Buses,)
Tank Vehicles, and
Hazardous Materials Vehicles.
After all that tutoring I’d done, I easily aced my own license exams and again could operate any vehicle in North America.
Even More Red Tape
The next time I renewed, I found I had to take the Hazardous Materials test yet again – and every time I renewed. Because I’ve got to take the test in person, I can’t renew on-line.
Then came 9/11 and the world changed again. Came the time for my renewal and I had to again prove I was a US citizen. Went back home, grabbed my passport, took the Haz-Mat test and again was licensed and legal.
Next renewal, I had to supply a set of fingerprints from a certified fingerprinting firm chosen by the state, have a doctor’s certificate stating that I suffered from no awful internal rots and horrors, take the Haz-Mat test again, etc., and eventually, I was licensed and legal.
This time, I’ve got to do all of the above, but add in a birth certificate, send my fingerprints to the FBI for a criminal background check, get a TSA Security Threat Assessment, get my fingerprints taken digitally at the DL Office, and then finally, I may get my license renewed if I didn’t miss a step or screw something up.
Texas also offers the ability to show your veteran’s status on the DL, so I had to find my DD-124 from Uncle Sam. Hmmm – looks like I’ve got to show them a Social Security card, too.
The next step is filling out an on-line application form that requires giving them all the information they already have.
OK – I think I’m ready, so tomorrow I’ll cruise over to the DL office and get this over with. Just to be safe, I’m taking everything I can think of, including my US Government issued pilot license and ship master license, and a bunch of other state issued licenses and registration stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. Maybe they’ll believe I’m really me and that I’m a real US citizen. Oh yeah – almost forgot, I’ve got to make sure I get the little Gold Star in the upper right corner of the license (the REAL ID) so I can get on a commercial airliner sardine can and catch my death of COVID-19.
The COVID Wait To Get Into The DMV
Because of COVID-19, I can’t go to the DL Office without scheduling an appointment. So I try to get an appointment with their online scheduling tool – the first open time is March 18, 2021 – 137 days after my license has expired.
But wait! Because of the stinking virus, there is a 60 day grace period for renewals.
Hmmm – 60 days? 137 days?
“Gee officer, I’ve really, really tried to get my license renewed, etc., etc., etc.,”
So – if you don’t see any of my little ditties showing up on Manopause for a while – please send bail and get me out of jail!!