In Sina's Posts on November 2, 2011 by SN

Actually, I only wanted to renew the tag on my BMW’s licence plate. The tag is a little sticker indicating that the car is registered properly at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failing to provide the tag, I cannot drive my car anymore. The DMV is similar to the German Kraftfahrt Bundesamt. More importantly, it is a legendary inefficient authority where people have to wait in line for hours. It has been subject of jokes in popular culture, e.g. in Married with Children.

Wanting to renew my tag, I did not know what I was getting into! For two weeks I have been feeling like Alexx Kidd journeying from one authority to the next. Here is my odyssey:

Start Fulton County DMV: Renewing a tag should not be a problem, right? I went to the downtown DMV early to avoid the lines and I did not even have to wait. So much for the good experiences. The hassle started right here. In order to renew the tag, I was told I needed an emissions inspection (comparable to the German ASU) and a Georgia driver’s licence. The officer at the DMV sent me to the DDS in order to get my licence.

DMV to DDS, same day: The Department of Driving Services south of downtown is responsible for issuing Georgia driver’s licences. I went there with the intention to exchange my international driver’s licence to a Georgia one. Nice try. Apparently Georgia is the only state that does not accept a foreign licence. I tried to “bribe” the officer with my German/European and my international licences in vain. The lady at the DDS told me the only way to get a state licence is to do the full test including a written practice test consisting of 20 multiple choice questions on street signs and 20 on traffic rules. The written test is complimented by the road test, which is, by the way, not offered at the downtown location. Why did I even get an international licence in Dortmund when it is not accepted internationally? I was devastated.

DDS at South Dekalb Mall, one week later: After about 3-4 days of studying for the written test I went to the DDS at South Dekalb Mall to finally obtain my licence. After a short wait, I did the written test and I passed the sign test with 100% and the traffic rules test with 80%. Yeah!

After another hour of wait, I was called for the road test. We were 8 drivers waiting in our cars on the parking lot. One after another was chosen by the examiner to go around the block. The road test takes about 20 minutes. However, when it was my turn after about 2 hours of waiting in the car, I could not understand the lady’s Southern slang. She asked me to “crank up” which I understood as “back up”. So after asking her again and having understood to back up, I pulled the car backwards. At that time she already had a sour look on her face. Then she asked me to “pull down the window” – which I could not because the electric window opener of my 1987 BMW do not open anymore. I signalled her that I was not able to do that. Well, that was it. I failed the road test without even having driven. The examiner circled the section “failed to follow instructions” on the examination sheet and asked me to go back to the office. I was really devastated.

After about two weeks of running around dealing with angry authorities, getting certificates, and studying the driver’s manual, I still do not have my driver’s licence. The tag expires November 9 – the day the Wall came down in 1989 and the day I will submit my dissertation in 2011. Will I manage to obtain my driver’s license by that time?

To be continued.


3 Responses to “Run DMV”

  1. […] Continued from Run DMV I. […]

  2. “Apparently Georgia is the only state that does not accept a foreign licence.”

    Kinda…most states won’t let you trade…actually I think all states won’t let you trade unless your license if from Canada (maybe). Tony has to go through the whole process of getting a new one for example. I think Georgia has just become the only state that doesn’t let you drive at all on a foreign license…which as far as I can figure doesn’t make sense and doesn’t actually work so I don’t understand how that can be. All this has happened since the last time I was around there (and the last time Tony drove perfectly legally there).

    It won’t last long.

  3. Also, the international license: as it turns out they are kind of a scam! They only translate your german license into another language or languages, it isn’t even a license on its own. I found that out when I almost got one to use in the UK!

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