The Super-Mighty, Texas Drivers License Fiasco That Ate My Month
Welcome to Texas road sign at the state border with some bullet holes
This isn’t the first time that I’ve overthought something and maybe tried a little too hard to get something right. Relocating from Oregon to Texas had a lot of moving parts and being a logistical queen, I handled most of them efficiently. There is, however, a kind of weariness that ensues when you’re dealing with so many challenges and changes. My little Type-A personality won’t rest when it’s tired if there’s more work to be done. So that “trying-too-hard” thing tripped me up and resulted in a demonstration of what I’d call, a super-mighty fiasco. In other words, I just wasn’t paying attention.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees drivers licenses, you need to get a license within 90 days of moving here. What they don’t say however, is when that day starts. Is it when you close on your house? Is it when you actually move in to your house? Or maybe it’s when you register your car, because that’s the first time that you are in the system. I chose the “I’m in the system, date” as the official marker for my residency. That’s when I started counting — October 31st. Therefore I must get a Texas driver’s license by January 31st.
Somewhere around January 10th, my husband and I went into hyper gear. We downloaded the Texas Driver’s Manual from the Texas Department of Public Safety web site and began to study. Reading the manual, the first thing that I noticed was that there was an awful lot of information about DWI ‘s and DUI’s, the fines, the jail time, how many years, yes years, it would take you to get your license back if you’re convicted of a DWI.
On the practice tests that I took, there were so many questions about DUI fines and convictions that it began to dawn upon me that maybe Texas had a little bit of a drinking problem. Seems that there was a ton of legislation passed in 2014 meant to deter the bad combo of the drink and the drive. Studying how that legislation applied to me, the Texas driver, also proved to be a deterrent for committing to memory every fine, sentence and charge that comes with a “driving while under the influence” conviction. And yes, it was enough to make me want to drink. I was never going to be able to pass this test. I spent three hours on a Sunday afternoon trying to memorize what could happen to someone who was bonehead enough to consume an over abundance of alcohol and not call an Uber.
On the day after the Martin Luther King holiday, I was ready. Hubby and I made our way to Texas DPS to take our written tests and get our licenses. It’s important to note at this part of the story, that the last time I took a written driver’s test, I lived in Ashland, Oregon — population 20,000. There were exactly three people in the line in front of me the day that I took the test.
Austin though, has a population of 2 million. There were 65 gazillion people waiting in line in front of me to get their license. Someone in a uniform announced to the masses that it would be a minimum 3 and a half hour wait. That same official person told us that we could make a reservation to stand in line by going to the website. So we did. We got on our phones and reserved our places. We went home, had some lunch, walked the dog and returned to the DPS almost four hours later.
On our second trip to get a driver’s license in the same day, we checked in at the kiosk and found that the mysteries of the digital universe had recorded my information and my reservation to stand in line, but not my husbands. So we cut our losses, went home, ate chocolate, and whined about the wasted day.
Three mornings later, we were now old pros. We got up early, got on-line, made our reservations to stand in line; and it was then that I noticed the fine print under the check-list of documents we were supposed to bring to the Texas Department of Safety. It said something to the effect that if we had an unexpired license from another state, we would be exchanging it for a Texas license. Wait. What? No written test? I searched the website and found a second reference to “no written test when you hold an unexpired license from another state.” How the hell did I miss this?
An odd combination of relief in knowing that no one would question me about how many days I’d spend in jail if I was convicted of a DUI, and regret that I would never get back all those hours when I studied the meaning of signs that contained pictures of cows, little men with flags and speed limits. The cows do not mean rodeo ahead; the men with flags, do not connote football game nearby; and the speed limits are more than just suggestions.
I think that one of the ways that you can tell you’ve settled into someplace new is that you start relaxing and you stop trying so hard to do everything right and right away. At this writing, I’m lying around in my pajamas hoping to master the art of doing nothing today, while simultaneously laughing at myself and the super-mighty, Texas drivers license fiasco. I’m told I should receive my license in the mail in the next couple of weeks. Sigh . . .