We’re Legal! We’re Californians

driver-license-photoTrip number two to the DMV this afternoon. We had a 12:15 PM appointment. The scrolling sign at the head of the line said wait times for folks with appointments: 12 minutes. Wait time without an appointment: 222 minutes!

Are you kidding me? That’s mind numbing.

Once we got to the head of the line and my paperwork was checked, I was sent outside to have my car inspected. This isn’t a safety or smog check. The inspector is making sure you’re registering the car you claim to be registering with the proper VIN number.


It was back to the head of the line where I was given a ticket, like at the deli counter at Ralph’s. I found a chair and waited.

A055, A056, A057, A058, A059, A060. That’s me! I was off to Window 5.

It was about this time when I realized the DMV process is the opposite of efficient! There are papers swapped and humans involved every step of the way. I can’t think of any private business this labor intensive.

I signed papers, showed my passport, took the eye test (corrective lenses required), had my thumbprint read and gave up my debit card.

The woman on the other side of the counter looked up and gave me my marching orders. Window 1 for my new California plates, then the photo line followed by Room 2.

Could I program this into the GPS?

So many steps. I got the plates without worry, had my photo taken (think Nick Nolte after his DUI arrest), thumbprint read again, signed some papers I didn’t read and headed to Room 2.

I walked in and spied Helaine. She was sitting in the back of a room full of the kind of chairs you’d find in a college lecture hall. She was already taking the written exam. She looked glum.

The clerk handed me a test sheet and I took a spot off to her left. I expected 10 questions. There were 36.

I was halfway through when Helaine got up and walked to the examiner. He actually looked like Nick Nolte on a good day, including a Hawaiian print shirt.

She smiled. 33 of 36 right. Pass!

I finished a few minutes later and apprehensively walked to the desk. “You must be Mr. Connecticut,” Nick said, with a smile on his face. He was the poster child for baby boomer Californians.

Number four, wrong. Number six, wrong. Number 11, wrong. Oh, crap! My test wasn’t halfway graded and I’d already missed three of the six allowed.

Nick continued looking. That was it. No more wrong answers. Like Helaine, I ended up 33 for 36!

I now have a jumble of papers which represent my temporary California license. My beautiful Connecticut 4CAST plates have been replaced by California standard #XXX### tags.

Obviously, I’ve gone beyond the designated time limit. I’d begun to worry I’d be stopped for failure to register. Now that problem is solved.

Today, we are Californians!

22 thoughts on “We’re Legal! We’re Californians”

  1. Ah, Mazel Tov? We had studied for a test here in AZ but didn’t have to take one. By the way, happy and healthy New Year.

    1. We both studied, but the test has lots of arcane minutiae no one need remember. Must I know the penalty for reckless driving that causes an injury? Maybe I just shouldn’t recklessly drive.

  2. I last set foot inside the New Britain DMV office to pay the taxes on my mother’s car in December 2012. From walking in and getting my number to when I was finished and out the door took slightly over an hour. I wonder how it will be in February 2015 when I have to get my photo ID redone?

  3. Our DMVs also require multiple windows and lines and OMG! wait times can be super long depending on the day you come in (no appointments offered). On the plus side, we don’t require any test other than an eye test for out of state transfers.

    Kevin Lagasse, are you sure you weren’t CLEARING your mother’s taxes at the New Britain DMV? Because the only tax we take is sales tax when you purchase and register your car. We can’t even see how much someone owes if they show up delinquent for property taxes in our system.

  4. DMV was a nightmare in CT. When I moved to SC and went to get my license I walked into the DMV building was directed to a counter upon entering did a little paperwork asked to step over to a camera for my photo then waited approx. 5 minutes and out the door I went..!! Didn’t take more then 20 minutes. And, the license is good for 10 years. Couldn’t have been easier! Sorry you had to go through the usual DMV nightmare in CA.

  5. Wow Geoff sounds like an all day event! But glad you are done now
    Don’t they have vanity plates there? You are def missed here. Tell me how
    After 28 years is it to move ? I’ve lived in my home since childhood and
    I find myself having to move Fairfield county is just out of control with
    Taxes and everything else after 52 years here it’s kinda scary any advice?

  6. California doesn’t require you to take the on the road driving test anymore–??? Back when—-we had to do the written and driving test plus the car registration. I might even still have my Calif plates at my family home in Seymour! They made good “rumpus room” (wow–am I old!) hangings back then!
    PS–the picture doesn’t look like you—no tie and jacket! You look like a vacationer–having fun! Do you feel at all settled yet?? How are mom and dad doing?

  7. Did you check to see if CA 4CAST was available – a great plate for a great weather forecaster.

    I will bet one of your blog readers soon has 4CAST, as their CT plate.

  8. Hey,GEOFF! Feel any temblors,yet??Was in SF, back in 1974, for 3 months,temblors a few times a week, scared me half to death! I did enjoy my time there,but,NEVER again! How is DOPPLER handling the change?? Just be careful on the roads,they can be MURDER!!

  9. Boy and I thought it was bad in Connecticut to get a driver’s license from out of state. Did they test your knowledge because of age discrimination or is it that was for everyone?

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