Official California: the DMV

So yesterday I had my first real “official California” experience. You’ve probably heard all about the state government here: the problems with bloated pensions, the budget, the knuckleheads in Sacramento, and so forth. I was worried about having to deal with the DMV, because– really– does any state have a good one?

First I hit this extremely useful unofficial DMV guide. It was a lifesaver. The fun started when I wanted to make an appointment. The web-based interface for doing so is ugly, but functional, (and hey, at least they have one, unlike Ohio), but I was really surprised to find that the soonest I could schedule an appointment was… yesterday, or almost three weeks from my scheduling attempt. There weren’t any better times available at any of the other offices that are quasi-near my office, so I decided to wait the three weeks instead of trying to show up and get in.

Second hurdle: you need to fill out a form 44 to get your license, but you can’t get one online; they’re all individually barcoded. So much for being prepared. Anyway, I showed up yesterday (about 15 minutes late, sad to say). When I got there, I waited in line for 5 minutes or so, got a copy of form 44, and was sent to fill it out. After filling it out, I got back in line, spent some time with the nice appointments lady (10 min, say), sat and waited for 10 minutes, went to a different window to have my documents verified and pay, went to yet another window to wait in line to get my picture taken (10 min), got a rules-of-the-road test form, took the test, and waited for it to be graded (15 min). At the end of all this, I walked out $30 poorer with a paper “provisional license” and a promise that my real license would be in the mail in two or three weeks.

Was it bad? No, but a far cry from the efficiency and speed of even the Bowling Green office of the Ohio DMV. I still have to go back and register our vehicles, too. Le sigh.

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