Wednesday, October 25, 2023

DMV'd Again

Son Number Three turned fifteen and a half the other day. You parents of teenagers know what that means.

That’s right. A lot of attitude. Oh, and also I’m back to dealing with the DMV again. And once again, to no one’s surprise – especially not my wife – the DMV has raised my ire. I don’t even really know what that means, but I know they’ve done it.

At fifteen and a half, your teenager becomes eligible to take the written test to get their learner’s permit. Unlike his oldest brother, Son Number One, Number Three is interested in getting his driver’s license the old-fashioned way. Meaning, as soon as he possibly can. We honestly couldn’t figure out what was up with Number One’s lack of interest in getting his license, but at least he embraced it once he got it – about six months after he was eligible.

It was hard to fathom at the time, because you are unable to find anyone my age who was not at the DMV literally on their sixteenth birthday, car keys in hand, ready to take the behind-the-wheel test and gain an unfathomable amount of freedom. I blame the internet for this generation’s wishy-washiness about driving.

At least some of them are wishy-washy about it. But like I said, Son Number Three wants to get his license on his sixteenth birthday, which brings me to the source of my most recent DMV ire. You see, you are not allowed to take the learner’s permit written test until you are fifteen and a half. But I was not about to chance it and schedule his test for exactly six months from his birthday.

This is my third rodeo with teenage driver licensing. I have been in the middle of some incredibly questionable DMV rules, regulations, and decisions, like the time they told me our certified copy of a birth certificate was not a certified-enough copy because the raised bumpy parts of the official seal weren’t raised and bumpy enough. They were raised and bumpy, but not quite enough…

So, I was not about to get stopped by any insane DMV math about how the fifteen and a half rule takes into account the leap year, or depends not only on the day of birth, but also the time of birth, which can be found on a bumpy-enough certified copy of the birth certificate. No sir. I know the deal. I scheduled our appointment six months and one day from his fifteenth birthday.

And since this is my third rodeo, we breezed through the paperwork portion of the appointment, where the bumpy-enough birth certificate copy showed that a boy was born who has the same name as a boy who owns a passport with a picture that could be literally any blond kid from five years ago, and a man whose name is on the same birth certificate, listed as the father, lives in California, based on a matching name on a property tax bill, a life insurance policy, and a credit card statement. Easy peasy.

Son Number Three then aced the eye test, took a pretty handsome driver’s license photo, and moved on to the written (computer) test. I then became engrossed in two simultaneous conversations. One with the DMV computer test lady and the interpreter for a Russian man who needed to take the same test that Number Three was taking. Since the guy needing to take the test also needed an interpreter, I was pretty sure I knew how that was going to go.

The second conversation was between a DMV window employee near my chair and a man who was doing his best to explain as vaguely as possible how he had changed his name from a real name to a nickname because his cousin had the same name, or the same  nickname, and it was confusing for the family, or inconvenient for him, or both, so he changed his name and now his name doesn’t match a lot of the paperwork in his life. Presumably the DMV paperwork.

Before I could learn how great things were going to go for him, I looked over to see Son Number Three finished and standing at the counter again. He was done earlier than I thought he should be, and he wasn’t smiling, so I had a momentary PTSD flashback to the time Son Number Two forgot to actually study for this same test and made me come back to the DMV against my will seven days later to try again.

Thankfully, it turned out Number Three had passed – aced it, as he claims – and the lady at the counter was giving him his learner’s permit. Then she said the thing that raised my ire.

She said, “He passed the test, so you can schedule his behind-the-wheel test six months and a day from today.”

I clarified. “Six months and a day?”

“Yes,” she confirmed, “six months from tomorrow’s date.”

I said OK, and thank you. But I didn’t really mean it.

You see, even if we had rolled the big fuzzy DMV car dice and been there one day earlier – the day he actually turned fifteen and a half – the DMV still makes it mathematically impossible to get your driver’s license on your actual sixteenth birthday.

The best you can hope for is the day after you turn sixteen. Even on a leap year. That is lame. They took away a time-honored American teenage driver’s birthright.

Once again, the DMV has figured out how to make everything suck just a little more.

On the bright side, I should only have to go deal with the teenage driver DMV appointment experience one last time. Assuming Number Three can keep it between the lines on the behind-the-wheel test.

Hmm… I’ve known him for a while, now… I think I’ll plan on two more visits, just to be safe, and then hope to be pleasantly surprised.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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  1. Love, 3 Riedenauers in FresnoOctober 25, 2023 at 8:51 PM

    Joe will rock it in 6 months and 1 day, we know...and Grandpa Dick will be prouder than heck in Heaven👍🙏💙

  2. Watching and learning for the grandkids turns! Good laughs, and good info! Gail