No, I am not talking about a baby. It took me 9 months (!) to get a drivers license in the US. I know how to drive, I have had my Dutch license (that word is annoying to spell) since 2013… so why did it take me so long? Covid, the DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles), lack of information, lack of communication etc…
My first DMV trip
Before you can go to the DMV to start the drivers license process you need a Social Security Number. Thankfully for me, my wonderful host mom was able to set up an appointment for me to get that done pretty much the first week after I arrived in August 2020. Although, it did take another 3 or 4 weeks to obtain it because of backlogs and staffing issues during covid.
Back to the story, I first went to the DMV at the end of October 2020, because this was the first available appointment. All driving services now require an appointment, usually you would just go inside and wait for your turn. During this first meeting I did my written test which is 25 questions and you need to have at least 20 correct, I passed (yay!). So they gave me a learners permit that I could use for the time being, with a beautiful mugshot like picture. They however regretted to inform me of my next steps.
My second trip to the DMV
After getting the learners permit, I had no idea what to do next so in my freetime I thoroughly checked the DMV NC website and saw that if I practised with my host parents and wrote down all my hours in a log I would be able to switch out my learners for a license, oh man was I wrong. I put in a lot of work and hours to make sure that I qualified for the amount of hours, day hours, night hours, x amount of times a week for x amount of months. I cannot remember exactly what the protocols were, but I followed them to a T to make sure that I was able to get my license. In January of 2021, 90 days after my initial appointment, I went back to the DMV.
The very kind lady at the desk informed me that the driving log does not count for me AT ALL and that I needed to do a contactless road test as I am trying to switch my international license. Okay, fine, I can drive and I have no issue showing someone else I can drive. I had to put my name down on a list and I would hear back in the next 3 or 4 weeks. I can say now, I never heard back.
My third trip to the DMV
I had not heard anything in about 6/7 weeks so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went back to the DMV in March 2021, by the way all these appointments are at different locations throughout Raleigh. When I went to this appointment she processed my paperwork, took my photo, I signed, I paid. YES, I GOT IT! And then… the lady went “oh wait I can’t do this, this doesn’t apply to you”. I can’t even begin to describe what my facial expression was at this point. So she had to backtrack all the paperwork and then I was told to sit in this chair ‘just for a minute’
It was a 60 minute long ‘minute’. I waited an hour. Yes, an hour. For what you ask? 5$. A whole 5$. The DMV had to pay the money back that I had just paid for the license that I didn’t get. If she had told me what I was waiting for then I would have told her to keep the money. At the desk she gave me a small card with a number and an email address on it for me to be able to book a contactless road test by myself. So, I left again with my learners permit.
I submitted my request that same day and received an email three days later confirming my request. It stated that someone will contact me using the number I provided within the next 4 weeks.
Calling the DMV
5 weeks went by and I was not contacted at all about a road test. At this point, as you might imagine I am getting very impatient about the whole situation. After being on hold in a waitlist for 40 minutes someone picks up at the DMV. They tell me that it can take up to 6 weeks for me to be contacted – THEN TELL ME. I was so frustrated that everyone is telling me something different. Working for the same division you would expect a consensus of what to tell clients and procedures. It is a frustrating time during the pandemic but at this point we were over a year in this situation, their procedures should have been set in stone by now.
My fourth trip to the DMV
Bet you weren’t expecting four trips when you started reading this. You can be rest assured right now that this was the last time. On May 3rd 2021 they resumed regular road tests in Raleigh, NC. After, I heard this news I booked an appointment instantly and luckily enough I was able to get one for the week after. During this visit she checked my paperwork, and we got in the car. I had to drive for a little bit and then show some skills such as a three point turn and an emergency stop. When we arrived back at the DMV she processed the final bits and pieces and I left with my drivers license!
So this process started in August 2020 by getting my SSN, and finished in May 2021 when I finally received it. And the funny thing id I get to go back in 2 months time to renew it for my second au pair year. I think my au pair goal is to go to every DMV office in Raleigh, I think i’m over half way there!
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