About the Colony

Oh, the joys of driver's license renewal and the DMV

Lon Allan
Lon Allan

I just had to renew my driver’s license. The old one, obtained five years ago, expired this month.

The notice to renew my license informed me I had to take a written test along with plunking down 33 bucks and having my picture taken.

I don’t know about you, but I panic at any kind of test. I always have. I was chagrined to learn that if you are taking the test as a brand new driver you can miss up to six and still pass. But us returning to renew could only get three wrong answers and still pass. That is on 18 or 20 questions. I don’t remember exactly. Come on folks, I never got that high a score in five years of college. Why couldn’t I pass with a B or C+? So I went to the Paso DMV office on a Monday afternoon to pick up a California driver’s handbook to read.

When I stepped inside it looked like a scene from Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Botticelli. There were people in line, people standing against the walls, women holding children, children crawling on the floor and others peering into tiny little machines to test their visual acuity. Some hadn’t seen daylight in two hours.

After reading the state’s official handbook on all the regulations I’m supposed to follow as a responsible driver, I went back and took the test. I passed, missing only two. That was about three weeks ago.

Earlier last week my new driver’s license arrived in the mail. Somehow they put some old man’s photo on MY license. No, wait, that is me.

I’ve always wondered what kind of training is required to get to be a DMV photographer and consistently take such horrible pictures. You’d think the law of averages would produce at least one good driver’s license photo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

Maybe the would-be photographer thought he had signed up for clown school and actually got assigned to frown school. Maybe when asked to make sure his lenses were made by Zeiss, he got confused and used lenses made by Dr. Seuss.

Another theory is that you sit in the DMV office so long it sucks the life out of you. That’s why you look so bad in your photograph. You begin to look like the walking dead. When you do go outside you discover you’ve lost your tan and sunlight kills your eyeballs.

But now I’m set, and won’t have to take another test until my 80th birthday. I better start studying right now.