Worst DMV Ever

So this past week my husband and I had to trudge over to the California DMV to update our license and registration. On the California DMV website the first point when getting a license is to make an appointment as you can see from the below screen shot.  So we made an appointment for the first available which was over a month away which meant we would make it in at the beginning of March.

Screen shot of California DMV website

Even though it states to get your new license in 10 days of becoming a resident but according to their listed ways of establishing residency I hadn’t done any of them nor my husband. So I figured waiting for the appointment would be fine nd my husband had already made the appointment. Also, since this was the fourth state that I had to get a new license in I figured that you would only get penalties or fines if pulled over by the police and if that happened I would show them that I had a appointment with the DMV.

Now what would you think an appointment would mean?


I thought it might be a short wait but that I would get right up to a clerk who could handle all my paperwork and be done in maybe a half hour. Should be quick and easy. Also, I haven’t had to wait much more then 30-45 minutes to take care of my license or registration ever even changing my last name.

I was completely wrong. If you have an appointment you just get to stand in a shorter line that the front desk then alternates taking people between that line and the non appointment line. Also, they don’t even verify if you have an appointment. After your get up to the front desk they just give you another number to wait to see a clerk and there is more waiting even after that.

So that being said it took us 2.5 hours with our 1 year old son to get through the DMV with multiple runs back and forth to various spots because their website isn’t clear on what you need to get your license and registration.

First we didn’t bring our passports or birth certificate because a legal drivers license from another state had always been sufficient at any prior DMV to get a license but not California. Second they have to verify your vehicle by checking the VIN in three different places and looking under the hood. They told us it is to make sure we have the vehicle with us even though we are hold our title that has both of our names on it. Why would I want to register a vehicle not in the state?? Third we have a relatively new vehicle which usually means you don’t have to get a SMOG or emissions test until it is at least over 2 years old. And we didn’t see it anywhere on the website (because it is WAY on the bottom of the registration information website) that all our of state vehicles must get a SMOG test regardless of age. If you buy the car in California you don’t have to get a SMOG test until it is over 6 years old.

So UGH on all that.

We did get our passports and the SMOG test while going through the whole process at the DMV. We went well past my son’s lunch time and he was throwing a royal fit by the end when we were finally getting our temporary license because they mail you the official one which can take up to two months! Wow! And for anyone that knows my son he is usually a very soft spoken crier or screamer but I think I heard him get his loudest at the end of our wait at the DMV.

And two months to get our license! I have 2-3 trips planned in the next two months which means I will have to carry my passport around which does not fit as easily into my wallet. I do miss Arizona where you walk out with your license in hand after visiting the DMV.

And then the final item was the fees for being late on registering your vehicle. It was 50% of the original registration fees. OH MY! I did get them to refund us 50% of the late fee since their website was misleading with information to “make an appointment”. The supervisor said well most people arrive at 7am and wait in line not to be late or their is an express drop box we could have used. Why isn’t the express drop box listed anywhere obvious on the website?

So in the end we did complete the process at the DMV. And I really don’t want to deal with the California DMV for a long time actually EVER would be good. I should find out if I can renew tabs online so I won’t ever have to enter that place again until my license expires.

Anyone dealt with a worst DMV?

This was harder then changing my name after I got married.


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