I Have To Take My Driver's Test Over Again At The Age Of 32
The day has finally come. After 3 years of an expired license and countless issues trying to make a DMV appointment during that time, it's official, I am being forced to start from scratch on my Driver's License.
Where do I begin?
My license expired on December 31, 2019. As I have now lived in NYC for 10 years, I rarely need to drive. Foolishly, it was not at the top of my list of priorities to run to the NJ DMV and have it renewed. Should I have switched over to a New York license before it expired? Probably. Again, not high on my list of priorities. As we all know, COVID came around in March of 2020 and the DMVs closed down for MUCH longer than the anticipated "June 15th 2020" opening date.
It's important to note that in New Jersey you were never allowed to "renew your license online" and get a new one mailed to you. MAJOR inconvenience. They changed these rules during COVID, and now you are allowed to renew it online, nice and easy. NOT FOR ME THOUGH! If your license expired BEFORE these new COVID rules, you still had to come in. So here I am, waiting for the DMVs to open back up. They also changed around a lot of the rules within the DMVs - you can only get license renewals at certain locations, take tests at certain locations, etc etc. NJ made it as difficult as possible for anyone to drive a car.
Here's where I started to get lazy. I would check online for a phone number to call, trying to have someone explain to me what I can do about this "out of the time frame of COVID" license renewal. Most locations were only allowing renewals online…but, again, not for me. Nobody would give me a straight answer, I got annoyed, and decided to wait until things were back in regular working order. No rental cars for me. Otherwise, it wasn't a big issue. I started carrying my passport around, and that was that.
Oh, I also lost my license in January of 2020 at a bar in Brooklyn. I took it out to get in, shoved it in my pocket instead of my wallet, and it fell out somewhere. Again, I didn't think this would be a big deal, considering I thought I was on my way to getting a new one soon.
For the past 6 months or so I had been intermittently attempting to make an appointment at the Flemington DMV. The website is total shit, and kept sending me in circles, so I kept giving up. My new plan was just to show up and make them help me. This past weekend, my dad said "hey, I was just at the DMV and it's pretty normal nowadays. Try again to make an appointment." So, I tried. I was met with a new issue:
Shit. Suspended? Not ideal! Could they suspend a license because it had been expired too long? Something I hadn't considered. Okay, whatever, I'll just pay the fee to have it reinstated.
Oh. Okay….so I don't exist? I haven't been driving for 16 years? My laziness combined with the incompetence of the NJ DMV has left me without any proof that I once passed my test on the first try? That I got enough speeding tickets in my early 20s to rack up around 5 points on my license? That I drove two Mustangs in a row? NOT GREAT!
Now it was time to get desperate with phone calls. Somehow, my dad was able to find a number online that someone actually answered. They told me, in a very condescending tone by the way, that I needed to start from the beginning. I needed to sign up for a driver's permit, take a written test, wait 21 days, and then take a physical driving test.
After hearing this and cursing New Jersey into oblivion, I've decided to just start over in New York. I live here! All of my mail goes here! Proof of address in NJ was going to be an issue anyway, the only mail I ever get to my parents house comes from High Point University asking for donations! Here is what I have on the horizon:
I'm going to use everything I have in my arsenal to get out of the "supervised driving practice." Those 6 hours with a stuffy instructor back in 2007 were some of the most annoying I ever had to do. Thankfully, it doesn't look as if I need to wait a year after getting my permit (something you have to do in NJ) but I'm prepared for the worst. I will break out every tear. I will scream about the injustice of COVID. I will say "I barely ever have to drive anyway!' I'll do it all.
Another question I asked myself - why bother? I still never need to drive. However it does suck to be the useless one in an emergency situation. What if I'm with someone, and they need to go to the hospital, and I can't drive them because I don't have a license? (I would still drive them. Just because I don't have a laminated piece of plastic doesn't mean I don't know how to fly down the highway to the hospital.) The main issue here - I can't rent a car. 3 summers have passed where I wasn't able to grab some shitty old Nissan Altima and jet down to the shore. This may be equally as important to me as being the savior bringing someone to the hospital. It's decided - I do in fact, need to drive.
So, that's that. I'm 16 years old again and i'm not allowed to take the car out by myself. That fucking sucks. Is it all my fault? No. I couldn't anticipate COVID. Should I have made it a higher priority? Probably. Still - if your license is expired, figure it out quickly. Whether you drive on a regular basis or not. Apparently, your license to drive is not "forever."