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DMV (Department Of Motor. . .FAIL) - Editorialisms

Peter Tarach
Feb 10, 2010

Of all the places I thought I would be writing an editorial, the last would be at the Department of Motor Vehicles, yet there I was sitting in a chair amongst 50-plus people with my BlackBerry in hand trying to do something with all that spare time instead of aimlessly looking around for another hour. Because of severe financial shortcomings the state of California has experienced, it has decided to cut back the operating hours of the DMV. Not only are all locations closed two Fridays of every month, but Saturday (the day that most people have off) has also been cut.

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Having recently moved to the Los Angeles area, I thought despite the shorter operating hours, the lineups and waiting times couldn't be that bad-there were still four solid operating days. Boy, was I wrong. At the time I was typing this, I had been at the DMV for 3.5 hours. When I arrived at 8 am sharp (the time the DMV opens), there was a lineup around the building. After standing in line like a prisoner waits for a meal, I finally walked up to the reception desk. I was greeted by a nice lady who asked me what I was here for. "I need to register my new vehicle," I answered. She hit a button on the machine to her left and handed me a ticket with a number on it. "I have to wait again?" I asked. "Yes, sir, you'll see a DMV agent shortly." I tried my hardest not roll my eyes as I walked off to the next holding quarters-I mean, "waiting area"-where I was greeted by scores of individuals just like me sitting around waiting for their numbers to be called.

Another hour passed before it was my turn to go see the agent. Handing the gentlemen my paperwork, he went through it rather quickly and then told me I had to have my car inspected by one of the DMV officers before he could proceed with the registration. This was to ensure the VIN on the car matches and the mileage is correct. Since I purchased my Mitsubishi Evolution X directly from Mitsubishi Corporate and not a dealer, I had to have this inspection done.

I left the desk, went outside and pulled my car to the side of the building where I was surprised to see no line. Unfortunately, the people who inspect the car are the same people who grade driving tests, so I waited for another 30 minutes before someone came and checked out the vehicle. With papers in hand, I went back to my agent and stood next to his cubicle until he finished with the person who was there before me. I walked up and he said, "I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait in the queue."

"But I already waited!" I said.

"I'm sorry, sir, it's policy." And he went and got a ticket from the receptionist for me.

So I was sitting there and waiting for the third time in one day in a state where there's no public transportation and everyone relies on cars to get around. I have to wonder who's great idea it was to cut back a service that's essential to the well being of its people; I'm sure it's the same people who got California into its financial mess in the first place.

Here's how my day at the DMV wrapped up: When I saw the agent again, he couldn't finish my registration because I hadn't smog-checked the car. A brand-new EVO X (with 52 miles on it) that has been designed to meet and exceed California emissions standards has to be smogged before it's registered. Brilliant! Just brilliant! Looks like my relationship with the DMV isn't over just yet.

This month marks the final edition of Mike Speck's column, Driver Training. Mike has been an essential part of the Modified team, and more so a great friend to me. I have yet to meet a nicer professional driver than him. It's hard for me to say goodbye to Mike's excellent writing and in-depth car reviews, but every column eventually comes to an end. Farewell, Mr. Speck, it's been a pleasure!

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By Peter Tarach
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