Driving – getting past the DMV

Today’s entertainment

It is now (about 0700 in the morning) while I am sitting with coffee cup in hand working through the various Cal Practice Driving Tests since I finally managed to get a DMV appointment for 1020 this morning. I don’t know why I am letting my anxiety get cranked up. It is not like I haven’t had to take driver’s tests before. At various times I have held US licenses in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington DC and New York. Then there is USAREUR, USAFE, Germany and Kuwait. That means a lot of knowledge tests over the years plus more than one behind the wheel test. Yes, you don’t get to drive in Europe (either a country license or military) without passing a lot of right of way and international sign questions. For that matter, you don’t get to drive exciting vehicles like cracker-box ambulances or the deuce and a half without a behind the wheel test.  Much less an APC or tank (got to try, did NOT go for the exam).

So why is this one bothering me so much?

Probably a combination of several factors. There is a large amount of information on driving while impaired. I don’t drink, so I really don’t care how long the suspension will be or when a revocation is mandatory. Not my problem. Frankly, after dealing with European Law, the idea of anything less than 12 months off the road for anyone, regardless of how high over the legal limit I find insane. Listing penalties for 2nd and 3rd offense within 12 months? $2000 fine minimum for injuring someone while DUI? Hello? WTF are they doing on the road? And then there is an extensive set of questions on the “under 21” crew.  Since I’m not under 21 and don’t have a driver in the house under 21 – see irrelevancy noted above.

It would make common sense to have a “mature drivers” knowledge exam. One for those of us eligible for AARP and without young drivers. Then you could also concentrate on the mandatory physician reporting, medical conditions impairing driving, and staying out the way of the young and stupid.

Did you know that California has FIVE (count ’em  – red, blue, green, yellow, white) colors which can be painted on the curb? All we need is purple and orange for the rainbow. Oops – probably shouldn’t suggest that – there are already enough special snowflakes of every size, attitude and dimension here in Berkeley.

Then there is the issue of taxes – starting 1 July (procrastination always costs) you have to be a California resident to get a license. Before that, if you were here – you could get a license as part of establishing residency. Now, how do I prove I am a resident? Utilities bills? Not in my name. Unlike the Indian Consulate, bills in my husband’s name + a marriage license isn’t going to cut it. Neither is my library card. Rental agreements? Don’t have any. I am hoping that a bank statement, our property assessment and an update from the Social Security Administration are enough. Why did I mention taxes? Well if I am declaring California residency, I get to pay California personal income tax. Whoopee. Filed that through myPay yesterday and winced at the bite.

The last challenge is proof of previous driver’s license. California is generous with out of country licenses. Not. A German License – sign up here for both Knowledge and behind the wheel. Not going there, thank you very much. Which left me with the challenge of finding proof of previous stateside licenses. DC has a “pay on line and download your driving record” so I could do that. New York has the same, but the catch is you have to know your Driver’s License Number. Like I am going to remember a D – xxxx – xxxx – xxxx – xxxx from 1990-1991? Admittedly it was the same as Minnesota but still…. DC was easy – they were using SSN….  My Kuwaiti license which I kept as a souvenir? Nah – see comment on Germany above plus it is all in Arabic. I also found one of my old USAREUR licenses which was good through 2002. Still looking for the USAFE license (2008-2010) but haven’t located it yet. I am hoping that playing the “military and serving overseas for 23 years” plus proof from DC will be enough for me to avoid proving that I really, really hate parallel parking.

All of this is necessary because I do need to be able to occasionally drive legally. I enjoy walking and adore being able to take public transportation. But there are times when depending on OP (Other People = George & Shana) makes me feel like a “dependent” on top of disrupting their schedules.

So – I have a board call at 1000, the Driver’s Stuff at 1020, company for dinner this evening and a flight to Denver leaving Oakland Airport @ 0545 in the morning. Perhaps I should think about packing rather than stressing myself over the exam?

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About Holly

fiber person - knitter, spinner, weaver who spent 33 years being a military officer to fund the above. And home. And family. Sewing and quilting projects are also in the stash. After living again in Heidelberg after retiring (finally) from the U.S. Army May 2011, we moved to the US ~ Dec 2015. Something about being over 65 and access to health care. It also might have had to do with finding a buyer for our house. Allegedly this will provide me a home base in the same country as our four adult children, all of whom I adore, so that I can drive them totally insane. Considerations of time to knit down the stash…(right, and if you believe that…) and spin and .... There is now actually enough time to do a bit of consulting, editing. Even more amazing - we have only one household again. As long as everyone understands that I still, 40 years into our marriage, don't do kitchens or bathrooms. For that matter, not being a golden retriever, I don't do slippers or newspapers either. I don’t miss either the military or full-time clinical practice. Limiting my public health/travel med/consulting and lecturing to “when I feel like it” has let me happily spend my pension cruising, stash enhancing (oops), arguing with the DH about where we are going to travel next and book buying. Life is good!
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10 Responses to Driving – getting past the DMV

  1. Kathy says:

    ROFL about your recitation of the trials and tribulations of finding old stateside licenses!
    Best of luck this morning!

  2. Carmen says:

    Ugh. Good luck with all that.

  3. Alison says:

    You’ll ace it. Me, I had to retake the exam after being at-fault in an accident 27 years ago and darned if I could remember the legal alcohol limit—like you, why would I care? Other than get these drunk idiots off the road.

    And wow, are the penalties really that lenient still? That’s awful.

    • Holly says:

      Yes, the penalties are that slight. Insane. Guy at the photo station promised that I wouldn’t look like dead woman walking but he couldn’t make me look 21 or 50 again. And he reminded me of the legal limits since he said those are ALWAYS on the test.

      And yes, I passed

  4. Bill R says:

    I wish there were tests for merging ! People just don’t get the concept. Very dangerous when driving a 5th wheel down the road and someone just expects you to move over for them not realizing the center lane is also full. Ugggh.

    • Holly says:

      I was appalled to find that a Class C license lets you drive a 5th wheel and/or RV up to 40!! Ft in Length without any road testing. That is as insane as third DUIs in a 12 month period.

      I’m with you on requiring something more.

      OTOH – I can drive a three wheel motorcycle without a motorcycle license. Go figure that one….

  5. Bob says:

    Am sure you’ll do well. Think of all the wanna-be citizens who apparently have been tested and issued a license.

  6. Cheryl says:

    Now you understand why I retired to Alabama! Take a copy of your retirement paperwork(DD 214) too-that might help

  7. Holly says:

    I did have that with me. They were actually great. They don’t take USAREUR licenses, but had no problems with my DC license since I have been out of the country for so long. I elected NOT to give them an extra $5 and put VETERAN on my license….

  8. Pat says:

    So, how did you do?

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