Written test at the DMV

I can legally start taking driving lessons, now that I have a driving permit valid for 1 year or I can continue to use my UK license, but that won’t allow me to take driving lessons here in LA.

I had spent the last few weeks studying the California Driver’s handbook, pretty much the equivalent of the UK’s Highway code book.

The handbook took me some time to get into, after all, it’s like reading a book with around 100 pages, and I tend to give up after the first 3 pages. It reminded me of school, only that I had a few weeks to memorize all the critical information in the handbook.

I had in fact made an appointment on the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website a few weeks ago to minimize my time waiting there since I’ve heard it’s notorious for long queues lasting almost 2 hours. This was my first visit to the DMV and it’s only located about 25 min walk from my apartment.

I set off nice and early and arrived at the DMV 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment. As I approached the building, there was already a queue outside. I asked one of the guards patrolling to check if I could skip this queue since I had an appointment. He directed me inside and pointed me towards the ‘Appointments Only’ queue, which was empty. Awesome!

The inside of the building reminded me of the US Embassy in London, it had a number of queues leading up to a reception desk which surprisingly only had person at the desk. To the right of the reception desk was a large hall surrounded by numbered counters along with large digital screens calling people’s numbers. In the middle of this hall was a seating arrangement resembling an airport lounge.

I was called up promptly as I stood in the ‘Appointments Only’ queue, like being treated like a VIP. They gave me a DL-44 form to fill in around the corner and a ticket number. I filled it in and sat down.

A few minutes later, I was called up to window 17. I handed in all my details, and then proceeded to the other side of the room for a photo to be taken. Next up was the written test.

Just behind the photo area, there were standing booths much like booths you see when you vote at elections.

The test wasn’t that bad if you had spent time reading the handbook. I did get 3 wrong out of the 36 questions. 7 wrong is a fail. 15 minutes later I queued up to hand my results in, and saw that the person in front of me had failed, and she didn’t look too happy.

When it was my turn, I was pretty nervous, but after checking my results, she said I passed.

Headed back home for a celebratory beer!


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