Recently, I learned I had no driver license.
It had apparently been revoked (or suspended, no one can really get their story straight on that point), back in September. I learned this in March, almost by accident.
The facts are these:
- In February of last year, I had to renew my license and pay some fee I didn’t even know I had.
- I wrote a check because I had forgotten my debit card and they don’t accept credit cards.
- The check hit my account the day before payday and was returned, but I totally missed the notification.
- In September, I got a letter saying if I didn’t pony up the cash, my license would be revoked.
- The very next day, I went to a DMV field office, found out my license had ALREADY BEEN CANCELLED (deadlines be damned!), paid the fine, and also paid for a brand spanking new license. All in cash, of course.
- And then I went about my business assuming everything was fine.
If a voice over was narrating my life, the next line would be:
But everything was not fine.
My first anniversary with Uber came up and, unbeknownst to me they renewed my background check.
(I mean, I would have consented anyway, but it would have been nice to know they were doing it.)
I got this weird message saying that I couldn’t drive for them anymore because my license was suspended or revoked.
So of course I responded like “Nuh uh!” And they yes, “Yes huh!”
At which point, out of frustration and just wanting to get it over with and prove to them they were being crazy, I printed a copy of my DMV report.
And that is how I learned my license was suspended or revoked in September. The day AFTER I went to the office in person.
Well that was an interesting and maddening and troublesome piece of news, so I immediately called the DMV.
The first call was to the general number. The (admittedly very polite) agent took me as far as she could, which was basically to confirm that I had been illegally driving without a license for six months. And then she had to pass me over to a different department. Except that DMV agents don’t have the ability to transfer calls. So she had to GIVE ME A DIFFERENT PHONE NUMBER to call.
I called the different phone number, which was the Mandatory Actions office. Spoke with another very polite agent who looked into it and then informed me that I needed to speak with someone in the Disputed Checks office. So she gave me that number because, of course, she couldn’t transfer the call.
This whole process literally went on for SIX HOURS.
Over the course of those six hours, this happened:
- Called the first office, was given the number to Mandatory Actions.
- Called Mandatory Actions, was given the number to Disputed Checks.
- Screamed into a pillow for 5 minutes.
- Okay, that part didn’t actually happen but only because I don’t have a pillow in my office at work.
- Called Disputed Checks where the agent explained my new license was revoked because I hadn’t paid the fine that started this whole thing in the first place.
- Explained that I HAD paid it.
- She put me on hold and talked to her supervisor.
- Supervisor miraculously found my payment and realized it wasn’t applied properly in the first place.
- Disputed Checks rep told me to call back Mandatory Actions to let them know the problem was fixed.
- Called back Mandatory Actions and was told Disputed Checks hadn’t fixed the problem. Told to call Disputed Checks again.
- Disputed Checks fixed it for real this time. Apparently. This agent called Mandatory Checks FOR ME (wow!) and then said that I need to go to the DMV in person to get my license reissued.
- I asked if the DMV office would try to charge me again or see that the reissue fee had already been paid.
- Was told they *should* see it.
- Made an appointment to go to a DMV office ASAP.
Well, you can imagine what happened when I got to the field office a few days later.
A few PARANOID days later because, even though I had been driving without a license for six months, I didn’t know. Now that I knew, I felt like I had a target on my car and was terrified of getting pulled over.
So I got to the office. When I checked in and got my number, it only took about 3 minutes before I got called up.
(This is why you make appointments!)
The DMV dude listened while I explained my situation. He said, “Okay, we just have to call Sacramento to verify your story and then we can proceed.”
Giving the circumstances, I understood this. However, WHY THE HELL DOESN’T THEIR SYSTEM GIVE THEM ALL THE RELEVANT INFORMATION? Why does the field office have to call someone in Sacramento to find out if I’m eligible for a Driver License?
Sacramento tells them that, sure enough, I’m good to go. I just have to…that’s right! Pay the reissue fee.
That I paid in September.
I argued. Oh, I argued but good.
A supervisor got involved and gave me a direct number of the guy she had been working with and told me to call him, and then she would talk to him. Because this whole thing is so unbelievably stupid OMG.
It came down to this. The guy on the phone tried to tell me that the fee I paid back in September was for some other issue that never actually existed. And then also changed his story and said it was because I never surrendered my old license. I got mad at him, thanked him for not being helpful, and hung up. I decided to just pay the damn fee now, get my license back, and worry about getting a refund later.
The DMV office dude who was stuck in the middle of all of this handed me a form for applying for a refund without me even asking. He just gave me this look like, “I totally know this is stupid, but I’m not allowed to tell you so.”
So I paid again. Had to turn over my old and invalid license. I asked the guy, “If they had remembered to take my old license back in September, would this have all been avoided?”
He said, “Probably, yeah.”
I fucking hate the DMV.
He handed me a temporary license and said my new one would be sent in about two weeks.
I asked, “Don’t I need to take a new photo or anything?”
He said, “Oh, no, they’ll just use everything that’s already in the system.” So basically, they could just unblock the license I just gave them, but they don’t work that way.
So, yes, please someone explain to me how the government should be in charge of our health care when they can’t even work out an efficient way to get people driving legally.
Edited to Add: BTW, Uber won’t let me drive for them still because now I have a major violation in the last three years. So that’s awesome.