Today I went to get new license plates for my car. The old plates expired while the car was in storage, so when I got it back two weeks ago, I started the process of getting them. First I had to get it repaired; it needed a new belt and a new sensor, and that was a little expensive, but really not as bad as it could’ve been. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I went to an honest car repair place: they only charged me for work they actually did, so, for instance, one thing they did only took 20 minutes, therefore they only charged me 1/3 of their hourly rate for it. I appreciate things like that.
Next was the smog check and certification. Oh, California, and your eco-friendliness. I’d had the car smog checked once before in order to get military base stickers, but it had been too long ago to count toward the new license plates now, so I had to go back yesterday. I found a walk-in place about five minutes from home and was done in half an hour.
So then today at the DMV….
I’d made an appointment, for which I was very grateful as it meant I got to be in the very short line instead of the really long, walk-in line. When I got there, I hadn’t filled out all of my paperwork yet, but that was okay because they would inspect my car while I filled out the pages. I got all of that done, and got registered for new plates…. and then thought to ask a pertinent question:
“By chance, do I need to have a California driver’s license, too?”
The laws have recently (since I last moved) changed, so that military dependents must either be residents of their sponsor’s (so, J’s) home state, OR they have to update it every time they move. Apparently I now fall under the new law.
SURPRISE! I needed a new driver’s license.
The woman helping me was super nice, though; she handed me a new ticket, having put me into an open appointment slot, and I didn’t even wait three minutes to be called. Because I had a military ID, I didn’t need to go home for a birth certificate (which I haven’t quite located yet in the unpacking), and they moved me quickly through the process. They took my fingerprint and my signature and my money and my photo.
And THEN I found out I had to take a written test.
They asked if I wanted to study, but I decided to wing it. Thirty-six questions, of which I was allowed to miss up to six. Yikes.
The test was mostly logical stuff, but some of it was California-specific, and some of it required me to consider the physics of my car. But my favorite questions were the passive-aggressive ones:
Of the following, which is true about tail-gating (driving very close to the car ahead of you):
a) it makes other drivers frustrated and angry
b) it is safer because it keeps other drivers from “cutting you off”
c) it minimizes collisions
Seriously. There were a couple of questions like that, mostly about driving too slow and creating hazards, and where to drive in relation to other cars (Beside them so the other drivers can see you?), and about merging.
Anyway, I passed. In fact, I only missed two– apparently it is illegal in the state of California to smoke in the car if there are any minors in the car with you. I don’t smoke so I wouldn’t know. And I missed a physics-related one. I think my favorite thing was that they just assumed I’d pass and took my photo and money first. Or maybe that’s how they force you to go through with it. No practice tests.
I also registered to vote.
So, I guess now I’m officially a California resident. Go me.