Saturday, June 16, 2012

Making it Legal

So, yesterday I decided it was time to finally make it legal and become a Californian.  My daughter informed me that we really should make an appointment at the DMV but I thought, heck, how long of a wait can it be?  So off we went.  When we arrived the line to just get to the "Start Here" point was out the door.  So we got in line and waited for about 20 minutes to get to the front of the line.  When I informed the lady what we wanted, she said "Here, go out and take your car through the VIN verification line.  In the meantime, fill this out and bring it back. Oh and to get a driver's license, you need a birth certificate or a passport. "  Who knew?  In Florida, we just went in, gave them our Ohio license and they gave us a Florida one. So, off we go to get the car and get in line.  Then I look at the registration form.  It wants to know when the car was purchased, how much it cost, how much sales tax etc.  Heck, how was I supposed to know that off the top of my head???  So, we decided to go home, dig out all the information on the car, including the registration which I had forgotten, and our passports and come back another day. 

This morning, Karen picked us up about 9 and we headed out to some estate sales and garage sales.  Didn't buy a whole lot but sure had fun looking around and seeing parts of the San Diego area I hadn't seen before.  Then home to lunch and off to the DMV. 

The line wasn't quite so long today to get to the "Start Here" point.  When we got there I showed the guy the filled out registration form and the passports etc and told him that I wanted a license and a car registration and Chuck wanted an ID. So he gave me more forms to fill out for my license, voter registration for both of us and Chuck's ID. Geez!  And  he gives us two different "Take a number" slips.  I asked why we couldn't go together and he said because they were for different things!  My number was B226 and his was G198. Their numbering system is unexplainable!!  Well, I knew that Chuck would have trouble on his own so I told him if we got close to my number, it was more important that I keep my place in line.  We could come back another time for his ID.  So, we sat down and I filled out all of the forms and then we waited and waited and waited and waited.  There were 23 windows which were constantly busy and an automated voice constantly calling out the numbers that were being served.  Finally after about an hour, my number was called. We got a really nice young lady (who spoke with no accent at all!!) and I asked if she couldn't take care of both of us and she agreed.  So, we stood there for about 20 minutes while she put all of the information into the computer, had us put our thumbs on a machine, gave me the bill which I then paid, gave me a temporary permit to put on my car and then told us to go stand in line to have our pictures taken for our license and ID.

So, more waiting in line. Chuck had his picture taken and then it was my turn. In both cases they made us take our glasses off.  I thought you were supposed to look like yourself on your license. I never go anywhere without my glasses!  Then---she hands me a long slip of paper and says, "Here, take this driver's test over there, fill it out, then return it here, sit down and wait for it to be graded."  My heart sank!  I hadn't even seen a California driver's booklet.  So, I took paper and pencil in hand and trudged off to a school desk to take the test.  When I looked at the first two questions I knew that I was in trouble.  After about 20 minutes of guessing a lot of the answers and using common sense on the rest, I handed in my test and sat down to wait some more.  Finally the guy called my name and I drug myself up to the counter just knowing I would have to come back another time.  When he said I passed I about fainted.  He handed me the test.  You could miss 3 questions and I missed 3--including the first two.  And did you know that it is illegal in California to smoke in a car with anyone under 18 in the car???  I sure didn't. So, he hands me a piece of paper and says that this is my temporary license.  My real one will come in the mail in about 2 weeks!  No instant license like in Ohio and Florida. 

So, our next stop is to go get the car and drive it around to the side of the building to get the VIN # and mileage checked.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for the gal who does the checking because she was out giving a driver's test.  While we were there, I noticed that there was a Smog Check place right next door.  The gal at the counter earlier had told me that we had to get a Smog check done before we could get the car registered.  So, next door we went. My daughter was sure that my little Escape would fail miserably and I kind of felt it might too. That would mean either getting it fixed or getting a new car right away.  So we waited another 1/2 hour and the guy comes in and calls me up to the counter. Again, I drug myself up there expecting the worst and he said my little car had PASSED!!!  Yay!!  By then it was 5:30 and the DMV was closed so now we have to go back Monday with the Smog Test, the VIN verification, and my Florida license plates which they will confiscate before I get my new California ones.  Which means, we have to go back Monday and get in line once again and get a number and wait etc etc etc.  And the whole thing has cost me $280--BUT I guess I am a California resident now--kind of--since I only have a temporary permit which allows me to drive but not vote. Well, there aren't any elections anytime soon so I guess I'm ok.


Kristin said...

It nearly took an act of God to get my license in Virginia. I didn't have to go through the whole process with the car, since Jere already lived here, but the license process was excruciating. I had to prove somehow that I lived in Virginia. They wanted me to show them a utility bill or something in my name. Nothing was in my name. LOL. It was awful. I feel for you, but you'll be glad you did it when it's all over!

Snowbird said...

Kristin, I guess some states just make it harder than others and apparently California is about as bad as you can get!

Erin said...

Having experienced DMV in two states - Suffolk County LI NY and Lee County FL - I have to say that your experience in San Diego is consistent with mine in NY. I think it has something to do with the fact that the systems are sort of antiquated. They have been in place for a long time, and have had the chance to become convoluted with multiple, seemingly-at-odds laws and bursting population levels. Lee County FL, on the other hand, has newer, more straightforward systems and lower population. They had lots of money coming in during the real estate boom so everything is brand spankin' new, more or less. We may pasture cows between our strip malls, but in some ways our government systems are more advanced and less unfathomably complex than they are in older, more established metropolii.


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

OMG - seriously, are all the DMV's like that? In Illinois they are all a nightmare too. It must be a pre-requisite that they are all mind numbingly slow and annoying.

Neptunesmuse said...

FL drivers license process has changed in the past few years. I renewed this year for the first time in 10 years. I had to provide my certified birth certificate/certified copy of my marriage license (because my last name is different than on my birth certificate) as well as 3 proofs of my address as well as my social security card.I have only had drivers licenses in FL but my FL drivers license was not proof enough I was who I said I was. All part of the Homeland Security Act.

Luckily, car registration can be done on line and no California emissions check for vehicles.

At least now all you have to do is depend on the Post office to deliver your new cards.