The Right to Drive

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_utpn85k5ndo/S38v5P_J4bI/AAAAAAAAAJw/mw1r8Sd4oxE/s1600/flashbacklogo.jpgToday I have to brave the hell that is known as the DMV - the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Not only do I have to stand in the ridiculously long line to get my license plate sticker renewed (along with everyone else who waited til the end of the month), but I have to wait in the other ridiculously long line to get my driver's license renewed AND take the written test.

Yep, that's right - it's been 10 years this weekend since I started driving and in most cases, for the 10 year renewal you often have to retake either the written test, driving test or if you're really unlucky - both!

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/rules_of_the_road/image/rorcover.gifI got a copy the other week of the latest Illinois Rules of the Road book to look over and study. I figured, I hadn't taken the written test since I first got my permit 10 and a half years ago, so refreshing by reading through the book again might be a good idea! Sure, most of the stuff is common knowledge while driving or you just follow what everyone else is doing, but there's little precise information that you don't really think about - like how far in advance must stop from train tracks, or behind a school bus? How far in advance must you turn on your turn signal? Do you know what causes you to specifically get your license revoked? Or suspended? Even going through the book and the practice questions, I noticed a few that were trick questions! Last time I took it, I think I missed 2 question plus 1 sign - one of the questions was about hydro-planin, the other I think involved a school bus question, in which I put the more cautious answer than the standard one they wanted (what's wrong with take extra precautions around a stopped school bus?).

In light of today's trip to the DMV, I decided to take a flashback to when I first got my driver's license.

At my school it was pretty common that on your 16th birthday, you missed the first few classes of the day to get your license. With mine being within the first week or 2 of school I didn't have to worry about missing a test or anything too important, so my parents let me skip my first few classes and mom took me to the DMV in the neighboring town, as that location was known for being less crowded and they didn't have you drive in any major traffic or on any major roads to take your test.

My 16th birthday was on a Tuesday.

I remember I straightened my hair all perfect, like I often did back then, and I wore a sleeveless light blue turtleneck top (or was it the olive green one?). I wanted to look nice for my photo.

I was a bit nervous though, as I still could not seem to park in a straight parking spot - I could do angled parking just fine and my instructor was shocked when I parallel parked perfectly the first time he had me try it, but I just could not park straight into a spot. I practiced over and over with my instructor, as well as with my mom, but it just wasn't happening. I was relieved to see that the parking lot at his DMV was all angled parking spots!

Unfortunately, when we got there at 8am when they opened, all their computers were down and they weren't sure when they would be back up. There were about 5 other people there with us, all waiting. It wasn't until after 9am that things were back to normal and they could start helping us.

The driving test was simple - I was driving my mom's blue 1995 Pontiac Bonneville which I had practiced with outside my Drive-Right instructor's cars. The tester had me go down the street, make a few turns into a neighborhood and then requested I park on the street either downhill or uphill (I forget which it was). I did as he requested, although I was a bit confused as we weren't on a hill at all - it was a flat street in a neighborhood. We then went around the block (most of this test was right turns I noticed) and were on a busy-ish street in this town, but after a mile or so, we were turning back onto the street where the DMV was located and it was all done. I passed.

My picture turned out pretty awesome - one of the best that I think I ever took! I was sad when I got it renewed at 21 that they didn't let me keep at least the picture like they had always let my dad - the cranky lady at the DMV down near school just tossed it before I could even ask!

http://lh5.googleusercontent.com/W2w6yeOZR1scmYkVuSF9UhdUtQfxq1-EcJBg8aUAqF8A0Yev-XGe2JxmRuhZ4PSlZ2gKMyxd-sxMoAE4LYcSqskPHWp2m_fktsm-ngnqeqGmaWmcmnR9bog9l_fKCqXXaCtT3CxO3gyv4unJEAMbDQI think part of the problem with way I could straight park was because all the cars I had tried with were too "big" - when we got me a car of my own to drive around (a '95 Chevy Corsica, like the one in the picture) I parked straight my first time out with it!

Now there were rules though - unless told otherwise by my parents, I couldn't have any friends ride with me for the first few months til I got used to driving by myself and then I could only have 1 friend riding in the car with me, so I wouldn't be too distracted. I also had to be home by a certain time (I think it was 10pm) as they didn't want me out driving too late at night. They also got me a cell phone a few months later, but it was only for emergencies, in the event that I got in accident or my car broke down or something came up and I needed to call home and let them know I was running late - they didn't want me to be stranded by myself, especially at night, with no way to contact anyone for help.

I hope I easily pass the written test today and that the DMV doesn't take a million years - last time, when I got my name corrected after I got married, it took forever as the first lady messed it up and the 2nd one couldn't figure out what she had done! I could just see having to call up hubby, or my mom even and tell them to come pick me up as I didn't pass the test and couldn't get my license! I also hope I don't look too fat in my photo - being preggo, obviously I've put on weight and it probably shows a little in my face... oops!

Do you remember when you first got your driver's license?


  1. I have found a hell worse than the Illinois DMV. In Texas, you have to go to the DPS for a license ( i waited 3 hours in a room with a screaming child) and to the courthouse for registration and plates (I waited for 2 hours in a room with annoying, pissed off adults). These places are about 20 minutes apart on a normal day, in traffic they were about an hour from each other.

  2. Uh oh. I was going to go in for my Minnesota drivers license tomorrow... meaning I will have to take a written test again. I thought I'd go in and wing it, but it looks like I should probably study....

    I was nervous when I was going to take my drivers test. My best friend's advice at the time was "If you get scared, close your eyes".


What's your thoughts?