An impressionistic painting of the Department of Motor Debacles with numerous people standing in lines

So about a week or so ago, I got a letter in the mail from the DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or, as it appears is the correct name, “The Department of Motor Debacles.”

Time to Renew My Driver’s License

Time to renew my license. It will expire at the end of July.

My “day job” is that I am a criminal defense attorney. My license is needed not just for driving my car or motorcycle, but for getting into jails, prisons, and sometimes courthouses.

I see on the form that it says I can renew faster online. So I try that. After going through the process, it says I have to go to the local DMV office.

So I head down there today. No appointment, so I have to wait in a long line. When I get to the front, the woman there says, “Oh, you can do this by mail.”

I said, “It told me I could do it online, but, when I tried, it said I had to come in to the office.”

She said, “No, you don’t.”

I said, “I only know what it told me.”

Kiosk Katastrophe

She said, “Why don’t you try the kiosk?” There’s no way around her, so I go to the line for the kiosk. Numerous people ahead of me, and several have problems working with the kiosk.

Finally, it’s my turn. So I start entering my information. It has some initial trouble scanning my Driver’s License, but finally does it. Then I have to answer a lot of questions (which I’ve already done online once, and on the paper form that the DMV refuses to accept). At one point, though it had allowed me to proceed, it tells me I have to go back and read a document, then indicate that I accept/agree/whatever.

Finally, I am at the page for payment. I enter the zip code for my card, and tap. Nothing happens. I try again. Nothing happens. I try again. Then it tells me that it cannot detect my card.

So I pull out another card. I enter the zip code. I insert it, because it has a chip. I’m told it cannot read the chip. I try to slide it through the slider. It cannot read the card.

Maybe Another Line?

At this point, I give up. I return to the lady and tell her what happened. She puts me in another line — thankfully at the front — and tells me to tell the Department of Motor Debacles employee at the counter what happened, when he calls me.

So, I do.

He sends me to another line to fill out an application on one of their computers, and tells me when I’m done to return to the “appointment line.”

Which I do.

What Appointment?

And I wait behind about 6 others who are looking as frustrated as I feel. And we wait. And we wait. And we wait. Because the same guy that sent me away originally is the only one helping people who have no appointment, as well as those in the “appointment line.” But he’s not prioritizing the appointment line.

And then he gets stuck with a person who is having trouble, like everyone seems to be having, with their system. After several minutes, he tries to get the person to step aside until that person is able to retrieve something on his phone. He waves me to approach.

I approach, and just about have to push the other guy out of the way, because he doesn’t want to move.

The Department of Motor Debacles employee looks at my paper, gives me a number to see someone at a window, and tells me to go sit and wait. This is a sitting-down line.

Two! Two! Two Charges for One (License)!

A few minutes later, I see that I have a text message from the “Department of Motor Vehicles.” Another debacle: they managed to charge my credit card, after all. I go show the lady who had originally sent me to the kiosk. She says, “Oh! Well, then you’ll get your license in the mail.” I was told I did not need to wait any longer, and I could leave.

On arriving back at my office, I saw that I had, also, an email. The Department of Motor Debacles strikes again! My other credit card was also charged.

I wonder if I’ll even get one license. Just one is all I need.


  1. Ah, what a wonderful experience you had! I got the letter to renew. My license is good until almost the end of August.

    I figure I’ll get started anyway. I go online, fill out some information after I create an account. Tells me I have to make an appointment because I’m over 70. Ok, I make an appointment.

    Next step is I can take a special online exam that I can’t fail, just keep going until I get the correct answers. Well, my laptop won’t cooperate. I keep getting messages that my ad-blocker is blocking this particular training/exam website. I try it several times and can’t get it to work. I give up. Figure I’ll just do the exam at DMV.

    My appointment date and time is 7/2 @ 10:40. I arrive at 10:20 and wait in the appointment line. Finally my turn, and the lady gives me a number, F-32.

    I go sit and wait. Finally at 11:10 (30 minutes after my appointment time), I get called to the window. She looks over my paperwork, I give her my thumb print and she sends me to the camera line.

    There are 10 people in front of me at the camera line. Finally, it’s my turn. I do the thumb print again. She takes my picture, gives me a form and sends me to “B” line. Then, they send me to the computer to do the driver knowledge exam. I take the test, miss 2 questions but pass. I’m back in the “B” line.

    I get called to the Window. Clerk looks at my stuff and says congrats you passed, but you need to take the motorcycle knowledge test too!! What??

    I go back to the computer, do the motorcycle test. I fail. I try a second time. I fail again. Sheesh!!

    I grab a motorcycle driver handbook. I go back to the B line and wait. When it’s my turn, I tell the clerk I failed the motorcycle test. She hands me a handbook. I tell her I already have one. She says come back tomorrow at 8 am

    Today, I show up at 8 am. Guess what?? They don’t open until 9. So, I take care of some other errands.

    I go back at 9:05, straight to the B line. Five people ahead of me. Finally my turn. She sends me to the computer. I take the motorcycle knowledge test. Now, I read through the handbook 3 times last night, highlighting important things. I missed 2 questions but pass! Congratulations!! Back to the B line, get up to the counter and all is good. I’ll have my new license in 2-4 weeks, well ahead of my birthday.

    That’s my story. Hahaha

    1. Ha! Well, I’m glad I didn’t have to take any tests this time. I did have to take them last time (5 years ago). I just hope I really get my license. I’d also like to get back one of the two fees I paid!

  2. I forgot to add that the First Lady had me read the eye chart, which I passed with flying colors. I had cataract surgery July 2023 and had new lenses put in. My distance vision is 20/20 and 20/25. No more restriction on my drivers license for having to wear glasses. Yay!!

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