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non solum memento mori, memento vivere sed etiam
I hate
Ok, it's not rocket science, I swear.

I've been to the damn DPS office three times trying to renew my stupid driver's license, which is now expired.

The first time I went, after I waited for 3 hours, they turned me away because I didn't have proof of my Social Security number. So I go back this morning with Social Security card (I don't carry it around with me because you're not actually supposed to, even though everybody else apparently does), wait another 3 hours, and get turned away because I didn't bring my proof of registration inside with me (it was in my car, outside in the parking lot). So I go outside, get it, come in again, only to be told I have to wait in line again. Around 2 hours into this second wait, they announce that the computers have gone down statewide and they cannot do any more driver licenses or ID cards until it comes back up. The room empties, since most people can't be bothered waiting. I keep waiting. I wait another 2 hours. It's still not up. The lady behind the counter is yelling out about every 5 minutes that the computer system is down, because people are still coming in. Somebody asked her how long is it usually down, when it goes down. She said sometimes as little as a few seconds, but sometimes 4 or 5 days. Somebody else asked her when is a good time to come, when are the shortest wait times. She said now is the best time, because everybody in line ahead already left; normal wait times are 3 to 5 hours.


1. The State of Texas has no backup database server.
2. I'm going to have to have another day off work to do this, or camp outside the office one morning.
3. In a county with 800,000 people (estimated), there are only 2 drivers license offices, each with maybe 5 employees on staff.
4. In order just to renew a license I already have, I have to show them: my old license, proof of citizenship, proof of Social Security number, proof of vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle liability insurance (I don't know what they do if you don't own a car...). I think this is ridiculous.
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hnpcc From: hnpcc Date: Saturday 8th May 2010 00.34 (UTC) (Link)

Seriously, that is insane.

OK, comparison. In Victoria you get mailed[1] a licence renewal notice about 1-2 months before it expires. If you need an updated image then you have to go into VicRoads themselves or to a licence photo point in order to get a new photo taken. You have to bring your expiring licence, which must be within 6 months of the expiry date. Oh and money. They then send you out the new licence within the next week. (This is why you should do it before the old one expires!!)

If you don't need a new photo taken you can pay them online, by phone or send them a cheque and they will mail you out the new licence. Seriously.

Interstate and NZ drivers licences you can also do this with I think.

If your licence is over 6 months expired, then you have to make an appointment at VicRoads (pain in the arse!), and bring the expired licence as proof of ID. If you don't have it you have to provide 100 points of ID, with at least one photo ID. If it's expired by more than five years and you don't have an interstate or overseas licence that's less than 5 years expired you have to resit the test as well.

I realise part of this is demographics (Victoria has a population of ~4.5 million compared to Texas' 22.8 million) and part is due to Australian states not being mini-countries and sharing a lot more data. But geez Texas, get with the program and update your IT system!! Seriously!!

I can guarantee that it doesn't take a day to renew your licence here unless you've managed to let it lapse by more than 5 years. I've done it in 15 minutes on a Saturday morning before, and that included taking the photo.

[1] I notice though that VicRoads specifies that if you don't recieve said notice it's still your responsibility to renew your licence!!
valamelmeo From: valamelmeo Date: Sunday 9th May 2010 17.20 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, we do get a notice about 6 weeks before expiration, but due to the nature of having to have several hours blocked off to wait in line, and having to go back a few times because I don't have all the papers...

We can also renew online, unless you renewed online last time (which I did), so they need a new photo, which is the only reason I'm bothering with this. Also, they give you a year past expiry to renew without having to take the driving test again.

Oh and the license offices aren't open on Saturday or Sunday. Monday 8am-7pm, Tuesday-Friday 7:30am-5pm.
hnpcc From: hnpcc Date: Saturday 8th May 2010 00.37 (UTC) (Link)
my old license, proof of citizenship, proof of Social Security number, proof of vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle liability insurance (I don't know what they do if you don't own a car...)

Wow. Again.

Wouldn't proof of citizenship imply a social security number, or I have misunderstood how that works? As to the vehicle registration - I had my licence five years before I owned a car. It is, after all, a useful thing to have, even if you're living in the city next to a tram line and don't really need a car.
valamelmeo From: valamelmeo Date: Sunday 9th May 2010 17.22 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, yes it does. All citizens and legal residents of the US have to have a Social Security number, for tax purposes.

I remember when I first got my license as a teenager, my dad had to come with me and show HIS ID, vehicle registration and insurance. I haven't had to renew my license without owning my own car since then (they're good for 5 years).
hnpcc From: hnpcc Date: Monday 10th May 2010 10.52 (UTC) (Link)
I'm surprised by the requirement for your parent/guardian to come along and show vehicle registration, that's seriously bizarre (from an Australian perspective, naturally!) and strangely paternalistic. Do you have to buy a car before you get a license if you're over 18? Weird. How about if you're over 25?

My licence is valid for 10 years, although you get a 3 year one when you first get your probationary licence, and seniors can apply to get a 3 or 5 year one (so they don't pay extra money for a valid licence they might stop using).

I've never had to use my tax file number, which is roughly equivalent to the social security number, for anything other than tax returns and filling in job contracts (again for tax, this time the PAYE and superannuation stuff). I don't think I could use it as ID, it doesn't have my photo on it!!
valamelmeo From: valamelmeo Date: Tuesday 11th May 2010 03.57 (UTC) (Link)
Well it couldn't be a new car--the dealers won't let you test drive without a valid license.

Licenses here are valid for 5 years, and can be renewed online every other time it expires. I renewed online in 2005 (which involved all of typing some codes into a website and authorizing the $25 charge), so this year I have to renew in person. Under 18 the license has to be renewed every year, and can't be done online (at least this was the case when I was that age; things might have changed somewhat).

Ours doesn't have a photo either. Just your name and the actual number itself. And yet it is widely used as a secondary ID for some reason. I haven't figured that one out.
hnpcc From: hnpcc Date: Tuesday 11th May 2010 11.52 (UTC) (Link)
No photo?!? I thought all US licences had photos!!! Based entirely on TV here of course!
valamelmeo From: valamelmeo Date: Wednesday 12th May 2010 00.19 (UTC) (Link)
The drivers license has a photo, along with your name, address, etc, just like you see on TV. It's the Social Security card that just has your name and your SSN.