Adventures at the DMV

Today my wife makes her 3rd trip to the DMV in 6 weeks. She has a relatively simple request – magically transferring her Virginia driver’s license to a Pennsylvania one.  Having an in-state driver’s license is a requirement of the state of Pennsylvania.  Apparently living here is in such high demand that they try to make the process as difficult as possible.

During our first trip to the DMV we loaded up our four kids and entered the building with all 17 pieces of information that they require.  We took a number and waited in line.  Then my wife saw the sign:

“No cash, debit or credit cards.  Checks or bank drafts only.”

This is almost as ridiculous as the founder of the Fireside Writer’s Conference (me) expecting everyone to pay with checks. Who even has checks anymore?  And why wouldn’t a government agency accept the VERY CURRENCY THAT THEY ENDORSE FOR ALL OTHER TRANSACTIONS?!?! It’s not like we walked in expecting to pay with rubles.

Well, we didn’t have our checkbook along, so out the door we went, pushing strollers and shouting directions to get our small flock back across the street and loaded up into our minivan.

During trip number two Maile made sure she had the checkbook. She was given a number (something around #218 – they were helping #14 at that point).  Centuries later she made it to the desk.  Victory was just within her grasp.

“Okay,” the woman said, “all I need now is your proof of identity, social security card and proof of residency.”

Perhaps this was where Maile went wrong – she got cocky. She pounded the requisite pieces of paper on to the desk, did her favorite touchdown dance, then spiked her passport on to the floor as if to say, “in your face – you’re silly restrictions and lack of cash acceptance can not stop me from driving legally in PA any longer” (okay, not really, she pretty much just placed all the documents on the counter and held her breath).

“And your second proof of residency?” the woman asked with a diabolical look in her eye.


Yes, hidden 14 levels deep on the PA DMV website, in small print, written in Olde Englysh, is the fact that (2) proofs of residency are required.  You know what else is messed up?  Gun permits count as proof of residency, but bank statements are no good.

It has taken us weeks to gather the courage to try again. Part of me can’t wait to see why Maile won’t get her license today.  But we scoured the website.  Last night we did a mock run, with me as the diabolical behind-the-counter lady.  I couldn’t find a reason not to give her a PA driver’s license.

Say a prayer for us today around 10:30am, if you think about it.

12 Replies to “Adventures at the DMV”

  1. Blame it all on the GWBush administration. Maybe even the check requirement.

    About a decade ago, I swapped an Ohio driver’s license for a Pennsylvania one. I fillled out a card with the requisite information USING A DIFFERENT SURNAME for my Pennsylvania license (I took my wife’s surname when we married), and handed it to the clerk. She asked for money, and I dug out a $20 bill.

    Then she pointed out that I forgot to sign the new card. I signed it, but I wasn’t thinking and I signed it with my original surname. The driver’s license was issued with my new surname, but a signature matching my old surname.

    In Ohio, they insist on mailing your driver’s license to you, or at least they used to. I lost my wallet the day before I was taking a plane trip, and had to obtain a new license. The mail didn’t arrive until early afternoon, and the plane took off in late morning, but the RFD carrier knew me for decades, and I made arrangements with him to leave that piece of mail at the counter so I could pick it up at the post office before going to the airport.

    Of course, lots of things have changed. I’ve been to Canada dozens of times, and I’ve never had a passport. Isn’t a passport both proof of identity and residence?

    1. i would think a valid passport would prove just about everything, but i guess it doesn’t actually have your address in it.

  2. Love this! Well, not all the trouble Maile is going through, but love the way you wrote it! :) Seeing as though I missed the 10:30 prayer, I’m anxiously awaiting the results. Although seeing that it is 11:17, and you could be waiting in line still…I’ll pray. :)

  3. Make sure you go to the one next to Brimmers on Harrisburg Pike. I couldn’t believe there was only 2 people in line the last time I got mine renewed.

  4. This may not make you two feel any better, but I hear you on the paperwork, rules and closures. I really do! Kafka Kafka Kafka.

    Here is what I needed to register Emma for 6th grade today:

    My driver’s license
    Emma’s birth certificate
    Emma’s SS card
    The lease on our house
    A bill showing we pay utilities at stated lease address
    Emma’s most recent report card
    Emma’s most recent standardized test scores
    DR signed TB test results
    DR signed immunization report

    Maybe data implants under our skin really would be easier!

    1. wow, maria, talk about pulling your trump card on me! i cannot compete with that amount of red tape.

      i am all for data implants under our skin, but only on pieces of me that can be taken off, like artificial fingers or the tips of my ears (which, should the govt be taken over, I could cut off).

      1. You had me at “pieces of me that can be taken off.” Classic. Will share with Charlie. I like that. I think that has legs.

  5. Of course! That’s what the DMV is there for! To frustrate and anger people. It’s a game, you see, created by the same people who create automatic corporate voice message systems where you have to punch in the number of your choice, and then you get stuck in an endless loop where none of the choices work. Good luck, hope she gets it on try #3!

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