Description and review of a recent visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew and upgrade my driver’s license to REAL ID (DMV & REAL ID).
Like many of you, I have been reading numerous articles about the l-o-n-g wait times statewide at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) field offices. DMV field offices are always busy – but thousands more people are flocking to the DMV since the state began issuing the new federally-mandated REAL ID cards earlier this year. I recently was one of them.
The REAL ID cards are driver’s licenses (or ID cards) that will serve as identification at federal airport security checkpoints for domestic flights starting in October, 2020.
My driver’s license was going to expire early next year – so I decided that now was a good time to start the process of renewal and upgrade. It always feels good to cross a “have to do” off the list, and I did not want to deal with the renewal during the holiday season.
You can now “like” a blog post and share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (see below).
I went online to make an appointment, and discovered that the first available appointment was 1 ½ months in the future! I made note of the documents I would need to have with me – my passport, a utility bill showing my address, and my social security card. Also, I made a mental note to myself to take my checkbook as the DMV does not accept payment by credit card. DMV does accept debit cards – but I cut my debit card up years ago due to account security concerns.
If you don’t have a passport there are additional documents you will need to bring with you – all the details can be found on the DMV website.
Finally, the day of my appointment was approaching. I went to the DMV website, opened an ID.me account (a secure account protected by a password), and filled out the application. Once it was completed I was issued an ID number which I printed out and took with me to the appointment. Using the ID number DMV staff was able to bring up and have access to my completed application. They printed out my application and all I had to do was sign and date it.
I also, in advance, made a point of taking each of the sample tests on the DMV website. It had been a long time since I last took the written test and needed to brush up. You are given three opportunities to pass – but why take any chances?
Also keep in mind when you make your appointment that written exams are NOT administered after 4:30 p.m. If you schedule an appointment late in the afternoon you could be out of luck if a written exam is required!
If possible, I really recommend filling the application online in advance. While I was in the last phase of the process – i.e. taking my 18 question driving knowledge exam – numerous applicants were crowding the small room where I sat to use the DMV computers to fill out their applications. At one point, for a short period, there were so many people who either wanted to fill out their application or take the knowledge test that those waiting were asked to wait outside the door until a computer became available.
So, what was my experience? Concerned about parking and lines I arrived to my appointment early. I entered the building through the door reserved for those who have appointments, handed my application ID number to the clerk at the desk, and was given a number and instructed to have a seat until my number was called.
It was not a long wait before my number was called. I handed over my documents, took an eye exam, wrote out my check, and then was sent over to have my picture taken. Unfortunately, I do NOT take good photos – and this photo was no exception! Ugh!
I then entered the small (crowded) room to take my knowledge test, and received my temporary license upon successful completion of the test.
All told, it was slightly over an hour from the time I entered the building until I left. My takeaways – do as much as you can in advance and take with you the documents you need!
Comments on DMV & REAL ID?
What has been your experience? What DMV office did you go to?
Subscribe to SacramentoRevealed.com to receive the weekly newsletter direct to your inbox! Comments are welcome.