Visiting The DMV

Written by Pat on January 5th, 2009

Pretty much every teenager dreams of turning 16 so they can get their driver’s license. Of course, these days I think you have to be almost 52 before the state of California will let you actually drive a car without some restriction or another. Luckily for me, the only problem I had getting my license was that I turned 16 during wrestling season. It’s hard to get down to the DMV when you have practice after school every weekday and tournaments every Saturday. Well, the first Monday after the end of wrestling season (sometime in April, three months after my birthday), I got myself and my ’85 LeBaron down to the King City DMV right after school, took my driving test, and got my license. I was so happy to have my license that I didn’t even notice that they somehow turned “green” into “brown” for my eye color. I get those words confused a lot too. Very similar.

Unlike some people I know (and am married to), I haven’t “misplaced” my license 4 or 5 times over the past 14 years and since I haven’t had any tickets that affect my driving record I’ve been able to renew online whenever my license expired. So for 14 years my license has featured my 16-year-old face on it, along with my wrestling season weight and the wrong eye color. I’m not sure how I ever got into a bar with that license. What is the point of checking IDs if you’re going to let 225 pound guy with green eyes in using a license that says he weighs 135 and has brown eyes? I guess they figured if I were going to get a fake ID it would look more like me than the pic on my license so I never had any issues other than a few raised eyebrows.

In fact, until last Friday I hadn’t set foot inside a DMV office since that April afternoon in 1995. I guess the state of California has decided that 14 years is the most you can go without going back in for an eye test and a new picture because I finally had to pay the DMV another visit. I want to know who the genius was that decided you can go from 16 to 30 without ever getting a new picture or an eye test. I’m not complaining about avoiding trips to the DMV, but it seems kind of ridiculous that I’ve been using the same ID since 1995.

Since appointments were booked at all of the local offices until the end of January (after my license would expire) there I was at 7:45 AM Friday morning standing at the end of the line in the cold (well, cold for San Diego). It was definitely an odd mix of people in line, but my favorite group was the mom, daughter, and son/daughter’s boyfriend standing about three places in front of me in line. They were there to get the daughter her license and both mom and daughter must have been nervous because they were smoking like crazy. Something about the mom and 16-year-old daughter smoking together before the daughter’s driving test just seemed funny to me. I wonder if the daughter smoked in the car during the test.

Anyway, eventually the line started moving and I got inside and took a number for the CA DMV lottery. After a short (by DMV standards) 30-minute wait, the system finally called out “G024” (BINGO!) and I headed off in search of window 24. I’m not sure who numbered this office, but windows 1-20 were in an order that kind of made sense and “windows” 21-25 were random rooms all over the place. I finally found window 24 and sat down to renew my license. I get by without glasses, but my eyes are definitely not what they used to be so I was a little nervous about the eye test. Luckily for me the vision standard is somewhere just above “totally blind” because I passed without any problems and headed over to the camera window to get my new license picture taken. I guess in a couple of weeks I’ll get a license that actually looks like me, but I’m going to miss the reaction to my 16-year-old mug shot every time I get asked for my license. Oh well, hopefully I’m good for another 14 years. Say goodbye to my old license:

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