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Old 08-20-2010, 09:01 AM   #21
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Why do US driving licences expire so often?
They combine it with an efficient/pleasant renewal process to give some of us ammunition to argue against government involvement in anything at all?

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Old 08-20-2010, 09:02 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by HsiaoChu View Post
Its called "Taxation by Unregulated Government Agency". Its just another way to increase government control over the population and income. Hard to believe that the country was founded 234 years years ago on no taxes. And people think this is a free country; its a toll road country. Gotta do something for money if you want to stick your military nose in everyone's business.
Well, yes, I kind of expected that response... except that everyone knows (and it's even true, basically) that Europeans are hugely taxed and everything is socialised and God help the USA if we ever go down that road etc etc. (The average middle-class Dutch person, say someone who makes quite a bit less than a doctor, will be on a marginal income tax rate close to 50%.)

Maybe we're just more honest about calling a tax a tax over here. (That said, to register the new title on a used car here in France costs hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of the car, and it's called "a fee".)
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:34 AM   #23
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Well, yes, I kind of expected that response...

Maybe we're just more honest about calling a tax a tax over here.
I think that's part of it. I suspect the other is that just maybe these smaller govts are more responsive to the needs of the people than our big ol' US Govt. Maybe they feel they are getting reasonable value for their tax dollars?

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Old 08-20-2010, 10:05 AM   #24
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There is one (1) DL office serving the entire city of San Antonio (I live a few miles outside the city in an adjoining county). Amazingly there is only one DL office serving the entire county - all two million+ residents. The place is a wait-in-line-forever bureaucratic nut house. No way am I going there.
Wow. We actually have an office here in my little town of 3,500 folks. (It's only open two days a week, but still...) It's a tiny little office on the courthouse square. No lines, no "take a number" stuff.

And our post office rarely has more than 1-2 people in line, if that, even during lunch hour and on Saturdays when working stiffs can get there. I remember the lunch hour lines at the local post office in Houston. Nuts.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:26 AM   #25
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Wow. We actually have an office here in my little town of 3,500 folks. (It's only open two days a week, but still...) It's a tiny little office on the courthouse square. No lines, no "take a number" stuff.
Uh...after further review, it appears SA actually has four DL offices. (The others are located more than 25 miles from my zip and didn't turn up in my initial search.)

However, I stand by my "wait-in-line-forever bureaucratic nut house" statement... x 4.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:37 AM   #26
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However, I stand by my "wait-in-line-forever bureaucratic nut house" statement... x 4.
+1. I did, however, enjoy looking at the display of personalized plates....
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:05 AM   #27
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Americans demand it because the renewal process is so pleasurable.
Not to mention the patronage jobs at the DMV.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:54 PM   #28
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Our nearest OMV office was miserable for many years, but was destroyed by Katrina. When they re-opened in another location, they made some improvements. Now they have what is essentially a triage setup. It takes only about a half hour to get to the triage person, who decides which line you belong in and gives you a number. Then you can take a seat (ahhh!!!) for an hour or two with hundreds of others. When your number shows up on the huge electronic display and is announced loudly on the PA, you hasten to the proper booth to be served.

This is orders of magnitude better than the pre-Katrina system, where you could be standing in line for 4-5 hours at best.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:39 PM   #29
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The other helpful thing that triage person does, at least in Virginia and Texas, is to make sure you have the right ID, proof of address, forms filled out, etc, so that you don't wait for an hour or more and find out they can't help you. That line has always been less than 10-15 minutes for me.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:08 PM   #30
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I suspect the other is that just maybe these smaller govts are more responsive to the needs of the people than our big ol' US Govt. Maybe they feel they are getting reasonable value for their tax dollars?
*shakes head*

A certain percentage of Americans are convinced that they have "big government".

Try this: when a French store wants to have a sale to clear out some stock, they have to get an official permit. And they can only do this during two, specific, 4-week periods per year.

In Germany, they ask you what your religion is. Unless you say "none", you pay about 1% tax to the official church which represents your denomination.

In Switzerland, the state determines which hours per day you can run your clothes washer.

In the Netherlands, there is no capital gains tax. However, every year you pay 30% tax on a presumed 4% return on all of your capital, regardless of the real return. This is essentially a "wealth tax" starting at the first dollar. (It is, however, extremely simple to run and collect.)

I think that part of the issue of believing that you have big government, is that it's not very American to expect the government, or indeed any unit bigger than the family, to fix problems. As a result, many people tend to look down on anything which is done by the government, even if it's something where an outside observer might think that the government is the best choice to do it, for reasons of neutrality, scale, reduced risk of financial default, etc.

In comparison, in Europe, a lot of people expect the government to look after their interests, to the extent that creative, enterprising people are undervalued. Until recently we had state-run airlines, for example, which would appear stupid to pretty well every American, even the most left-leaning liberal.

As usual in such debates, the truth is somewhere in the middle...
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:17 PM   #31
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I got there just before 11 AM, waded through a standing room only crowd to take a number (43). I found an empty chair
You had chairs? Numbers? It sounds like heaven.

IIRC, I live in the same county as Katsmeow, but on south side near the county seat, where the last remaining DPS office is located.

I was still w*rking when the oldest kid got his DL, so we just paid to send him to driving school. But with the youngest I decided to do the parent taught program - which was a good experience except for the actual visits to the DL office. If you do parent taught in Texas, you have to go to the nearest DL office for all transactions until the kid has his unrestricted license.

On our first visit it wasn't too bad - maybe two hours. But the second visit was four hours of standing in line. The first hour was outside, the last three were in a serpentine line in an area that was designed to comfortably hold about a third the number of people as were present.

On the next to last visit we got there at opening time, and the line was already out into the parking lot. Once they opened the doors it moved quickly and we were there for only 3 hours. The final visit, for the driving test, we snagged the appointment for first slot of the day and were in and out in less than a hour!

Chairs and numbers!

We decided if we had to go back there again for any reason, we would arrive about an hour before the office opened and just bring some folding camp chairs and breakfast. If you're the very first in line, you can be in an out in 15 minutes.

You do get to meet interesting people. On the four hour visit we talked with a guy who was a former Marine, Vietnam vet, and truck driver. The next-to-last visit found us right behind three state inmate trustees, but the guy in charge of them decided he wasn't waiting in line and they left. There was a potential conversation that would have opened DS's eyes.

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Imagine the surprise of all of us when I returned to work 30 minutes -- 20 minutes of the time had been the drive to and from. I had remembered long horrible waits at the office.
I need to renew next year, and I think I can do it online, but if not I would love to know which office you visited. You can PM me if you like - I do offer bribes blandishments.

I have many friends who w*rk for DPS, have commanded a couple of joint task forces with DPS folks w*rking for me, and still play golf with a bunch of current and retired folks. Good people and good cops. But there is no way that the DPS would ever be accused of being modern or technologically adept. I remember when electric windows finally became so prevalent in cars that they were no longer an option and they became standard on police packages. For at least a couple of years after that time the DPS actually special-ordered their cars with manual windows just because they had always had them.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:52 PM   #32
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*shakes head*

A certain percentage of Americans are convinced that they have "big government".

Try this: when a French store ... In Germany, ... In Switzerland, ... In the Netherlands

In comparison, in Europe, a lot of people expect the government to look after their interests, to the extent that creative, enterprising people are undervalued.

As usual in such debates, the truth is somewhere in the middle...
Thanks for the perspective. Looking back, I was glad to see that I did phrase it as a question, and with the "maybes" in there. So I think this does enlighten me a bit. They expect/want this involvement, so they expect to pay for it and accept it.

I also heard from someone who recently visited some of the former Eastern Block countries. She said the older people were very nervous about the change to more freedom and a capitalist system. As much as they hated the Communist control, they felt they could depend on some basic level of support, and I guess it was scary to have that taken away. It's all what you get used to I guess.

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Old 08-20-2010, 04:24 PM   #33
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Here in Ohio, we renew them every 4 years, complete with eye test and new photo, no matter what your age. I've never spent more than 30-40 minutes in the process, and the last couple of times it's been more like 15 minutes.

When I lived in NYC, it took close to an hour.
When I lived in California, it took close to an hour.
When I lived in Alabama, it took 15 minutes.
When I lived in Illinois, it took 15 minutes.
When I lived in Brazil, it took an entire morning.

The only time I ever got annoyed was the first time in Ohio. My hair was very blond when I was a kid, but it gradually darkened over the years. Nevertheless, I always wrote "Blond" in the Hair section on any official forms.

When getting my first Ohio driving license, I did the same, but the woman who took the form looked at it, then looked at me quizzically. She crossed through the item, wrote "Brown" on the form, and said "That's not what we call blond in Ohio."

I was pretty steamed about it at the time, but after I left the office I started laughing, and DW still kids me about it.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:48 PM   #34
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In Illinois - at a local DMV, I logged in to a public kiosk computer when I got there - toggled the renew license plate button and sat down. I waited about a minute until I was called. Another minute I left with my plate renewed.

There were a lot of people in there. Some of them looked like they had been there a while. I'll see how fast I renew my license next year.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:10 PM   #35
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New experience here in Florida recently. DW and I had moved into our new house and knew from past bad experience that you have to get your drivers license changed to show new address. DMV office is only a couple miles from our house so one day I stopped by to check things out. I couldn't even get in the door. The place was packed. Went back a couple days later and hardly anyone there. Thought I'd check out the process and then let DW do hers at her convenience.

DMV told me that since my license was going to expire in Sept 2011, I could renew rather than just change address which was better (18 month grace period). Same for DW. However, found out this is a big deal this year. You have to have two kinds of proof of who you are, one must be an official birth certificate (copy with official state seal is OK). DW would need the same. In addtion for her, since she had been divorced, she would need copy of divorce decree and our marriage license to prove she married me legally. DMV gave me the list of documents we would need and I was on my way.

When I got home and relayed all this to DW she was irate. She said "I'll go online and get mine renewed". Told her no way, you need all this documentation. Well, let me tell you, she got it done online and then found out it was cheaper by $10 to do it that way. Then I went online and got mine also for $10 less. Within 10 days we both had our new licenses good until 2019. No eye exam and we're in our 70's. So much for rules and regulations. In Florida anyway.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:16 PM   #36
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Within 10 days we both had our new licenses good until 2019. No eye exam and we're in our 70's. So much for rules and regulations. In Florida anyway.
So you both have licenses valid until you are in your 80's - without so much as a vision check?

Are Florida auto insurance rates low?
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:20 PM   #37
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My hair was very blond when I was a kid, but it gradually darkened over the years. Nevertheless, I always wrote "Blond" in the Hair section on any official forms.

When getting my first Ohio driving license, I did the same, but the woman who took the form looked at it, then looked at me quizzically. She crossed through the item, wrote "Brown" on the form, and said "That's not what we call blond in Ohio."

I was pretty steamed about it at the time, but after I left the office I started laughing, and DW still kids me about it.
Hmmm... I wonder if she ever corrected somebody's form by writing down "Bald"?
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:24 PM   #38
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When getting my first Ohio driving license, I did the same, but the woman who took the form looked at it, then looked at me quizzically. She crossed through the item, wrote "Brown" on the form, and said "That's not what we call blond in Ohio."

I was pretty steamed about it at the time, but after I left the office I started laughing, and DW still kids me about it.


Frank's father had dark brown hair in his youth, but by the time we met he was in his 70's and it had turned snow white. He gave his hair color as "blond" on his DL, and insisted that it was! Nothing ever came of it but I thought that was hilarious.
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:29 PM   #39
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So you both have licenses valid until you are in your 80's - without so much as a vision check?

Are Florida auto insurance rates low?
Surprisingly they are low compared to New Jersey and believe me it is one scary state to drive in .
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:30 PM   #40
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So you both have licenses valid until you are in your 80's - without so much as a vision check?

Are Florida auto insurance rates low?
I'm with Progressive and found them to be the lowest. Just renewed with them for the fourth year. We have two cars, one is just a beater and don't carry collision, and the other is a lease (Saturn). You have to carry $100/$300K liability which I do on both cars. Just got quotes from a lot of companies as policy was up for renewal. Nobody could touch them. You have to carry a good credit score to get their lowest rate. I pay $1246 per year for both cars and get a nice discount for paying in full at start of policy.
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