Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cars and Licenses

Megan McArdle tells us a surreal story about registering her car in DC. I have 3 car/driver's license-related surreal stories. One took place in Italy, one in Baltimore, and one in DC. I'll start with Baltimore.

  1. In August 1992 I arrive in Baltimore to start graduate school.
  2. In September 1993 I find out that I passed my comprehensive examinations and decide that I need a US driver license. I take the following steps: (i) Obtain a US social security number; (ii) Attend the required course on the dangers of DUI (the other attendees were 16-year old kids and repeat offenders) (iii) Take the law test; (iv) Rent a car, drive to DMV with my Italian license, take the driving test, and obtain a driver's license.
  3. So far so good.
  4. After a few months I realize that I cannot afford buying a car (the insurance is too expensive) and I decide to buy a motorcycle (Suzuki 500). This is where the surreal part of the story starts.
  5. I go to DMV to take the motorcycle law test and I am told that I cannot take it because I have an unpaid speeding ticket from Florida dated sometimes in 1991. I tell the DMV employee that I moved to the US in 1992 (so, how could I have a ticket dating 1991) and that a few months before they gave me a car driver's license without any problem. She answers that the other time they did not do a background check because it was my first US driver's license?? Anyway, I find out that it is easier to pay than to argue against the ticket. So, I send a $50 check to Florida, I get a letter saying that I am clear, and I take my law test.
  6. Two weeks after I go to take my driving test. The employee asks: "How did you come here?" I reply: "with my motorcycle." He tells me that I did something illegal (and thus I cannot take the test) because I don't have a motorcycle driver's license. So, I show him my Italian license (this is the same thing I did when I took the car exam). He says: "Sorry sir, I don't speak Italian." I tell him that they accepted the Italian license when I took my car test and he replies that they assume that all licenses are good for cars, but motorcycles are a different thing. I tell him: "look at my license it says: "autoveicoli e motoveicoli," even though you don't speak Italian, you can recognize the root of the words auto-vehicle and motor-cycle." He repeats: "Sorry sir, I don't speak Italian."
  7. What should I do? He says that I have 3 alternatives: (i) go back with somebody who has a motorcycle license; (ii) go to court and have my Italian license translated into English; (iii) go back with the motorcycle loaded on a truck (note that the motorcycle was already there!).
  8. Since I didn't know anybody with a bike license and I had no intention of going to court, I went to U-Hual and rented truck with a ramp to load my bike. However, I didn't have anything for tying the bike inside the truck and as soon as I left the parking lot the bike fell. So, I parked again, rode the bike to the parking lot of DMV, took a taxi back to where I had parked the truck, drove the truck to the parking lot of DMV, loaded the bike on the truck, called the DMV employee and showed him the bike inside the truck (of course two hours before he had seen me there riding the bike). He told me to download the bike and he let me take the exam.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usShare on Facebook

1 comment:

cosimo said...

In Switzerland it is much easier. There is a serious problem with US bureaucracy, then...