Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Few Words on DMV

This post is mainly intended for people like me, who are coming to Alaska and using search engines to get as much information as possible. It's great to get info from the 'official' sites, but it's also great to get a personal account of the process. Okay then.

Our trip to the DMV in Fairbanks (see the webcam
here) to get our Alaska driver's license went fairly smoothly. We arrived at the office a little past nine and stood in line behind two other people at the information counter.

I had read on the DMV website that you must provide a social security card, which Rick didn't have, so he asked around to other active duty folks on base as to what form of I.D. they used, and got conflicting information. I'm here to clear up the confusion: ALL people, military or civilian, MUST present a social security card to obtain a driver's license in Alaska. A military I.D. card WILL NOT suffice, even though it has your SSAN on it. They didn't even ask for or look at Rick's. I had my original card with my maiden name on it which was accepted because I also presented our marriage certificate and my birth certificate.

(As a side note: you can register as an organ donor and register to vote by checking applicable boxes on the driver's license form you'll fill out. And also, teens may obtain a learner's permit at 14, but they have to take the written test to do so. Bren's very excited about this little detail!)

If you are new to the state you have to take the written driver's test to obtain a license. The test is computerized, very easy to use, and consists of 20 questions. If you fail the test you can retake it the following day. Cell phones are not permitted in the testing area, so if you don't want to leave it at the information desk, don't bring it with you to the office.

The fee is $15 for a license, payable by cash, check, or money order. No credit or debit cards accepted.

After taking the test (we both passed), we filled out a little form then sat for about 15 or 20 minutes until we were called up to the counter. Rick was informed that he had to go to the Social Security office at the Federal building to get a letter confirming his name and SSAN. I proceeded to get my license then we left for the Fed building which is only a 10-minute drive from the DMV.

There is security and a checkpoint at the entrance of the Federal Building where we had to go through a metal detector and have our stuff x-rayed. We walked straight to the office where there was one person ahead of us. We were in and out in about 15 minutes.

When we returned to DMV it was VERY busy. Go early if possible. Because we had been in the office earlier, it took only another 15 minutes and we were on our way home.

Here's a little bonus advice: If you want to annoy everyone in the DMV and become blog post fodder in the process, do the following while you are waiting:

  • Bring five of your daycare kids into the office with you and let them hop from chair to chair and crawl underneath the seats, hitting other customer's feet and legs while they're at it.
  • Eat an apple while you're being served at the counter, then interrupt the process when you're done with the apple to search for a few minutes for a trash can to throw away the core.
  • Talk with the closest person to you at the top of your voice, using the f-word at least once in every sentence.
  • When you arrive at the DMV without the proper papers, tell the customer service lady how stupid the rules are (the louder to yell at her, the better everyone in the place can hear you), and how YOU are the exception to all these rules.
  • And always remember you are on camera, so everyone looking at the webcam can see you sitting there with your finger in your mouth scraping who-knows-what off your teeth for five minutes straight.

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