Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Texas Really Badly Needs To Fix Its Department Of Public Safety's Unsafe Driver's License Renewal Operation

When I moved to Texas. over a decade ago, I found myself sort of culture shocked a time or two or three. Sometimes I found the culture shock to be a pleasant thing. Other times, not so much.

I think the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which may be called the Texas Department of Public Safety, may be the worst culture shock I've experienced in Texas. If I remember right, dealing with the Texas DMV, or whatever it is called, was the first time I thought to myself I've moved to a 3rd World country.

After what I went through today, to renew my driver's license, I can say the Texas DMV situation has worsened since I first experienced it.

One of the good things about a Texas Driver's License is it is good for 6 years. After 6 years you can renew your license online. You can not renew online after another 6 years has passed.

I don't remember how often I had to renew my Washington driver's license. I do know it was way more frequently than every 6 years. I also know that renewing my Washington driver's license was a speedy, painless, efficient, modern operation. And that was way back in the last century.

I'd been warned not to go the DMV near where I live, that being the one in Hurst, due to it being the busiest in the D/FW zone, with parking hard to find. I opted for the Texas D.P.S. Driver License Field Office in Arlington, near Veterans Park.

I arrived at the DMV parking lot, easily found a parking space. Finding the DMV entry, in the strip mall in which it was located, was not so easy. Eventually I found it, tucked in a corner.

I entered to find myself mortified by a line and a lot of chairs with a lot of people sitting in them. I asked the first guy I saw what the line was for. He told me you had to get in line to get your ticket to be in line to get your license.

Is this not the type thing the former Soviet Union was infamous for, with the long suffering Soviets waiting in long lines caused by the inept Soviet bureaucracy?

Waiting In Line To Get A Ticket To Wait In Line
I took a long look at the Soviet-ish line and said, screw this, and left. Then thought about it, knew I wanted a new driver's license to replace my soon to expire one, so I didn't have any incident with I.D. getting on an airplane.

So, I turned around and went back inside, eventually found my way to the end of a line that snaked all the way to the back of the office.

I told myself I'd make the best of this and that it'd make good blogging fodder. Eventually I reached the top spot in the line and got my number, which was 30. All morning long I'd been hearing the robo-voice call numbers in the high number range, like 794, 899. None in the double digits.

After A Half Hour The Line Had Moved To Where
I Could See The Lucky People Seated Who
Had Successfully Got Their Line Ticket

I entertained myself whilst doing the line waiting by having amusing conversations with my fellow Soviets. It felt sort of like those instant friendships you strike up when you are in travel mode, like waiting to get on a plane, or while in the air.

I finally exited the DMV around noon and headed to ALDI. The ALDI checkout lady politely asked how I was today. I said I was miserable. She laughed and asked why. I said I'd just spent 3 hours getting my driver's license renewed.

The ALDI checkout lady said she could not believe it the first time she experienced the Texas DMV. She'd moved from New Jersey, where, like Washington, getting your driver's license renewed is an efficient operation.

Even though I put up with this 3rd World backwards nonsense today, without complaining, til now, I wondered to myself, why do Texans put up with this sort of governmental incompetence? When people in other states, don't?

Does Rick Perry have to wait in line to get his driver's license renewed? How about Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price? Do, those who make the laws get to experience the Texas driver's license renewal experience? Does J.D. Granger have to renew his license the way us common folk do? Or does his Big Mama Kay somehow take care of that for him, like she does so much else?


Anonymous said...

Texas is spending over 60 million dollars to open 6 new driver's license megacenters throughout the state. Furthermore, existing DPS offices will be updated to speed the license renewal process.

I don't know if Tarrant County will be getting one of the megacenters.

Durango said...

Anonymous, there is a new driver's license renewal location under construction due west of Eastchase Parkway/Dottie Lynn Boulevard, near the Village Creek Natural Historical Area, in far east Fort Worth. I do not know if this is a megacenter. I do know it is in Tarrant County. I also do not know if this will fix the serious problem I experienced today.

Steve A said...

It is worse than you claim. My wife was denied a DL until she went and got her SS card changed into her married name. Apparently a passport was not good enough. She had to use a gard that stated "not valid for ID". It'd been good enough for California, Washington, and the USG, but not for Texas.

GG said...

Durango, what documents did they ask you for to renew? I get to go in 2014.

Steve, really, a passport didn't work? Are you sure? I was planning to bring my passport but guess I need to dig up my social security card as well. That is ridiculous.

Not only is this screwed up, inefficient process a condition for driving, it will soon be a condition for voting (student photo IDs won't work, but concealed handgun permits will, go figure.) Think of all the hourly workers who lose pay while standing in line for renewals, address changes, and name changes. People better make sure their last name/address is correct or they may not be able to vote.

Durango said...

GG, no document other than my existing driver's license was required. I don't recollect being fingerprinted, previously, but this time they took the thumbprints of both hands.

Blue and Max said...

In Washington, you can renew online. Super easy. Even for poodles.

GG said...

In Texas, I think you can renew online every 6 years, but every 12 years they want to see your smiling face, not just to annoy you, but mainly to give you an eye exam. Having to put up with that DPS line once every 12 years is still unacceptable. There used to be a little-known DPS office near the Capitol building in Austin where I used to go, never crowded, but not sure if it's there anymore. Might be worth a drive down to Austin :)

Durango said...

Blue & Max, GG beat me to telling you that you can renew your Texas license online. One time. Then 6 years later Texas wants its citizens to be reminded that they live in the Great Soviet State of Texas, so you are required to stand in a line for 5 hours, then get fingerprinted, photographed & interrogated. I suspect soon that being strip searched will be added to the humiliation.

Steve A said...

Lucky me - I'll be out of Texas before I hit the 12 year barrier.