driver's license images

Left to Right: 1st one is from when I moved to Seattle, WA in 1998 [I was 34]. 2nd one was a year later, 1999, after getting married [I was 35]. 3rd image was in 2012 after adding my motorcycle endorsement. The first 3 images are from WA State. The 4th image was in 2013 after moving to CA.

I’m prompted and inspired to write this story. It’s been one of popular discussion over the years. Driver’s License/I.D. card images drive people bonkers. Linked below is a story from a blogging friend that was my inspiration:

Here’s a silly and fun image I took this Summer [2014] at lunchtime with some of my church family:

In 1998, I got divorced after being married for 14 years. I made a new start. I was fit, in shape, and in a new relationship. A year later, I got married. The DMV hadn’t yet forced people to take off their spectacles for their photo [face recognition software was not in place yet].

You might be wondering why I have so many saved old driver’s licenses. Well, like I said, in 1998 I made a new start. Saving that license is mostly for posterity, because, my name of different then. It shows who I was then. My new name and license was the new start, also, mostly for posterity. On another note, because of the identity change, I wanted record for proof.

Fast forward to now, 2013/2014. My CA DMV experience has been one of nightmare proportions. Forget having kids screaming and running in circles around you. I made my own circles running around. I swear there’s probably a path worn with my name on it to and from that DMV office as well as the floor tiles having a path worn in them.

In June 2013, a couple of weeks after moving here, my husband and I drove over to the nearest DMV office, less than 5 minutes away by car. We filled out our applications for driver’s license. Our number was called and we went to the counter. They looked over my husband’s application and processed it. They charged him the fee and he paid, voila, he went to the picture-taking line. Now, it was my turn with my application. This is where the nightmare begins. The clerk looked over my application and all the paperwork I provided her. She had a dumbfounded look on her face. I asked, “Is there something wrong?” She looked through the paperwork again and at my application. She responded, “You’re missing information.” I asked, “What information is missing?” She began to explain that I had no paperwork proving my name change from old to new, only my marriage certificate for the new name. I asked her, “What do I need to provide for proof of the name change?” She responded, “Court documentation of name change, like a divorce decree or court hearing of name change.” I was finished. I sat down and waited for my husband.

I got home and went online searching for contact information for the courthouse in the state/county my divorce papers were filed so that I could contact them to request a copy of my divorce paperwork. It took nearly two weeks for it to arrive.

I went online to the CA DMV website and made a new appointment. The closest date was two weeks out. Time came for my appointment. I took all my paperwork again to my DMV appointment. My number was called and I went up to the counter. The most bizarre experience I had by far was when the person at the counter told me to go get into the photo taking line and get my photo taken and then come back to her window when I was finished. I was sent for a second photo. The second time around was so they could make an identity connection between the two names with each having its own photo attached… (Huh?!? Why couldn’t they just use one image twice?) I did what I was asked. I was a wreck! I have a BAD knee and back. I had to stand in the lines and go back and forth. Finally, what was needed had been gathered in their system. I told the photo taking person that I needed written tests for car and motorcycle. I was handed both and I walked around the wall to the testing area. I’d already been at the DMV for 4 hours. I took the tests. I passed the car test. The motorcycle test I failed miserably. I was more than exhausted when I left there and it was HOT outside. We live on the edge of the Mojave Desert.

So, I was allowed two more tries to take the motorcycle test before they forced me to reapply and charge me again. In the meantime, I was told I didn’t pass the eye test and I needed to go see an eye dr and have the eye dr say I could see. That proved I needed new glasses. It also proved that I’m legally blind in one eye. I had to make a new appointment for the DMV to bring back the eye dr test results (that was two visits). I didn’t have my new glasses yet. So, I had to leave, get the new glasses, and make another appointment. After I got the new glasses and new appointment I went back. After arriving to the DMV with my paperwork, a month later, they said I had to do a vision drive test to prove I could see to drive in order to get a driver’s license. OK, so, they just happened to be able to do it that day. I drove my car to where they told me too outside. I waited behind the line of cars until it was my turn. The driver test person did a basic light check to make sure all my lights worked, then climbed into the car and directed me which way to go to drive around the city performing basic driving functions. She asked me to do certain things so she could observe my driving, etc. She was impressed at how well I did being I’d been driving since 1982. She mentioned that most people who have been driving for a while pick up bad habits and mess up on driving. She didn’t observe me having any bad habits. I was happy with that. The only thing she said I needed to do better at is looking more because of the blind spot and to pull more up into a turn to block the bike lane so that bicyclists didn’t dominate my right of way in my turn. Other than that I did terrific! Yay! I’m a good driver! So, I was issued my regular driver’s license without the motorcycle endorsement until I passed that test.

It took almost a year for me to get through this process. I was embarrassed and mortified that I struggled so badly with the motorcycle test. Someone from the DMV mentioned that the motorcycle test manual was written by non motorcyclists and therefore, the information was worded very different from what a motorcyclist would word it. I had to agree with that just from looking at the manual. I failed all three tries. I had to start all over. They gave me a waiver on the drive test, etc since I just did it recently. They tied it into the new application. This time I requested to do a person to person testing, because I failed the written and the audio tests they offered. With the person to person they have a DMV staff person to have printed up road sign pictures and questions for the motorcycle test. My situation was unique in that they didn’t have a test for the motorcycle. The tester person had to create it on the spot. Not to worry, it would only take a few minutes. So, the tester person sat me down at the lower disability counter and asked me to name the road signs. I only had to name a small portion. I told the tester person I knew all of them and I was given the OK to name them all. There was like 25 or something images. Then, the questions for motorcyclist. There are 20 questions. I missed one! You’re allowed to miss 4 I think. The tester person made some marks on my paperwork and told me to get in line for the gal to issue me my final papers to get my license. The last image in the array at the top is the photo on my current license. One funny thing that happened during this last final test. Before we got started the tester person looked at my previously issued license, by them, and asked, “Don’t you smile?” I didn’t know what the person meant and asked, “What?” The person pointed to license and said something about smiling. I laughed… and mentioned I was sick that day and had already been here for nearly 5 hours. We both giggled.

So, what’s your DMV story? Please share in the comments.