Things The DMV Doesn’t Tell You

It’s something we all have to do at one point or another. Spend the day at the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was something that I had been preparing for over the past 4 months and yesterday was finally the day. Back in February I realized that my drivers license was going to expire at the end of the year. With all the REAL ID drama that had been happening at the time I knew that I had to be proactive to make the process as easy as possible (foreshadow alert!). That day I jumped online and made an appointment at for June 11th.

Kristen and I only have one car and there was a monthly meeting at work at the same time as my appointment, so we had to split up. I left her the car (because I’m a good husband!) and charted an Uber to the DMV in El Cerrito. I arrived 30 minutes early because I have anxiety about arriving late for appointments. The DMV was a ghost town compared to the normal crowd you would find there. The appointment line was empty and they were able to take me immediately. (It must be my lucky day!)

A week before I arrived I made sure to check the DMV website for all the things that I needed to bring to get my REAL ID. I remember hearing there was a lot of confusion, law changes and complications so I wanted to make sure I was over prepared. The guy behind the counter asked me when my license expires and I said at the end of the year. That’s when I learned lesson #1 about the DMV.

1. You can not renew your license more than 60 days ahead of the day it officially expires.

So I guess I just go home then right? Nope! I missed a meeting and paid $35 to be here, I’m not leaving. He explained that I can get the REAL ID now but it would just replace my current ID and still expire at the end of the year. Which means I would have to come back in 5 months and do this all over again. Nope! What else ya got?

2. You have to take an 18 question driver’s test in order to get your license before it expires.

A test? I wasn’t prepared for a driver’s test. It’s been years since I’ve done one and I failed twice. But it was that or come back and do this all over again so I decided that taking the test was my best option. How hard can it be right?

They accept my logic and ask for my paper work. I pull out my highly researched forms which include my Passport, social security card and a utility bill with my name and address on it. After handing the items over the guy looks up and asks “where is your other proof of address?” My jaw dropped. “What do you mean? It says on the website I only needed one from each category.” He nods and says “yeah, they haven’t updated the website yet. You need 2 now.”

3. You need 2 proof of address documents, not one. (even though the website clearly says 1)

Flabbergasted I explain that I can show them my pay stub on my phone and they reply that it needs to be printed. That’s fine with me “Do you have a printer?” I ask.

4. They don’t have a printer.

Quickly I google copy places nearby and one thankfully pops up. It’s a 15 minute walk during the biggest heatwave to ever hit the Bay area. I grab my bag and head out on my adventure. I was able to get there and print it out for 11 cents and then make the journey back to the DMV. At this point it’s 20 minutes past my original appointment time and I’m starting to feel anxious. Luckily they took me right away and I was able to move onto the next phase of this transaction.

The next step is filling out an application…

5. You have to fill out an application in order to renew, update, change your DL.

After that I go take my eye test, give my thumb print, sacrifice a goat and do the hokey pokey for the lady at the counter. She snaps my picture, which I know is going to be terrible, then I head over to take my drivers test. I sit down at the computer and after reading the instructions I hit “TAKE TEST” and the program crashes and the screen goes black. (AHHHHHHHH!!!!)

Like an awkward teenager I raise my hand to get the ladies attention. She makes a “Oh no!” face but then immediately looks back at her computer. After realizing the screen wasn’t coming back and the lady didn’t care, I changed computers. This one worked fine and I began my 18 question test.

6. You’re allowed to miss 3 questions and still pass

7. You can retake the test that day up to 3 times

After completing the final question I slowly tap the SUBMIT button and wait…. I passed!!!

The lady stamps my little blue sheet and says have a good day. I grab my stuff and call an Uber home with a little chip on my shoulder.

“Who knows how to drive and has 2 thumbs?”



Check out another story of victory below! This kid needs brain surgery but first he has one request.

5yr Old Has One Wish Before Brain Surgery



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