Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Day at the DMV

I thought I would share my experience with trying to get my NC license. I have put it off for the past several months because I knew it would be a hassle. However, I didn't realize just how big of a hassle it was going to be.

I woke up yesterday around 9am and started reading the NC driver's handbook. Even though I have been driving for the past 10 years, in order to get my NC license, I have to take an eye exam, a road sign test, AND a written exam. I was given some warning that the written exam was actually hard and asked several questions about NC laws and penalties, so I started studying. Two hours later, I finish up.

Next, I gather up all my necessary documents (proof of residency, proof of NC car insurance, my SS card, and my WV license) and attempt to locate the DMV. I enter the address into my garmin and off I go. About 45 minutes later, I am driving on a dirt road in the middle of the country. So I call the DMV and immediately I am placed on hold. Then an employee comes back on the phone to give me the address, which I already had. After several minutes of explaining where I was, he finally gave me directions.

Another 45 minutes pass and I finally arrive at the DMV located in a very obscure, unmarked office building. I walk into a waiting room area but I do not see any employees. So I venture down a hallway and I find someone who tells me to go back to the waiting room and take a number off of the wooden block. So I do. Another hour passes and finally my number is called. I go back and there are only two people working. I give them all my documents, info, etc, and proceed to take my eye exam and road sign exam. The road sign exam is where you have to identify the road signs by shape and color. I am not sure why I would be able to see color but not the rest of the picture or words. I pass so I move on to take the written exam. I also pass the written exam consisting of 25 questions that were somewhat difficult. I take my picture and wait.

The next part of business I need to take care of is my title, plates, and tags. That is at another government office located 2o minutes away. It is already 3:45pm so I was worried the office would be closed, but I make it in time. I get my plate and new registration after I pay $218, of which $150 was an out of state highway tax. It is now 4:30 and I have a NC license, plate, and registration, but I am still not finished. I have to get my car inspected but that will have to wait for another day.

After a full day is wasted on trying to switch my license from WV to NC, I am left wondering how does this do anything productive? How does this insure that I am a safe driver? I can now tell you that a pentagon shape sign that is yellow and black represents a school crossing, but I am pretty sure I understood that sign before (the woman and child gave it away). I lost a whole day of work to government inefficiency and bureaucracy. And I am still not done.


Justin M Ross said...

lol, Claudia you have to see the previous TPS entries on the DMV:

Very funny stuff! My favorite is the out of state highway tax.

Anonymous said...

So, what's the alternative?

(1) Federal Government issues licenses or (2) a driver's license is not required to drive.

Assume (2) away (though I'd enjoy an argument about why it should not be), is (1) any better? Shouldn't it be harder to get a license in some places (such as New Jersey - heavy congestion, high population) than others (Montana - low congestion, low population).

Justin M Ross said...

Let me argue for (2) and see what you think.

Eliminate the state-run DMV but retain or perhaps even strengthen monitoring for required liability insurance. Liability insurance is important for the protection of property rights. Insurance companies will want to price the risk of a particular driver, creating the demand for a private sector rating agency.

These rating agencies would compete to provide accurate information to insurance companies and to draw in customers by providing service and competitive rates. This might even result in scoring your driving ability in a grade fashion (A,B,C,D,F) rather than just a pass/fail score, so that those who are just barely passable still pay higher liability insurance rates, and those who do better receive better rates. Under the current system, the new "good" drivers are subsidizing the new "bad" drivers insurance rates.

When you think about it, this is essentially what private schools and universities do for employers looking at potential new hires.

Curious to get your reaction. All the best.

doclawson said...

Oh my, I only WISH the DMV experience in Alabama was that easy!! Seriously. They start queuing up at the driver's license bureau at 7-7:30 before they open at 8. If you're not there by 10, forget it; your not going to make it out that day. (Btw, while they do have a sign on the old bankrupt strip mall finding it is nearly impossible. Both my wife and I got lost too.) And that's just for the license.

The plates and registration is a whole other process in a different location, but is relatively easy at about a hour. However it took two trips because I have three cars and they have to visually inspect the VIN. The dude took mercy on me and let me take him a photo of one car's VIN so I wouldn't have to come a third time.

In Ohio, it was a one stop shop and the whole thing would take an hour.