A Visit to the DMV

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Earlier last month, I received a postcard in the mail with the most dreaded sentence in the English language:

It’s time to renew your driver’s license.

All you need to do is mention “DMV” to elicit a shudder from others. Years ago, I had some pretty heinous experiences at the DMV. On two occasions, I spent a good part of a day there, being shifted from line to line by often surly employees. I was hoping that I’d be able to renew my license online — which is an option these days. But I was dismayed to discover that I need to convert my license to a Real ID, and you can only do that in person at a physical DMV location.

Obtaining a Real ID is not required — I could have simply renewed my license online without getting one. But without one, I would be unable to fly in the US. Supposedly, a Real ID will be required by airlines beginning in October of 2021, I do believe.

A few years ago, when I was getting reading to obtain a motorcycle license, I mentioned to a friend how much I was dreading going down to the Milwaukee DMV office. He said, “Oh, I always go to the one in Saukville. They’re friendly there, and it’s rarely ever busy.” Saukville is a much smaller town than Milwaukee, about 25 minutes away. I decided to take his advice, and sure enough, the employees were delightful, and there was hardly any wait.

So I chose to go the same route for my license renewal and drove up to Saukville on a Tuesday morning. I walked in, and I was the only customer there. I filled out my renewal form, brought it to the first open window, and I was in & out with 15 minutes. Maybe even more like 10. That has to have been my fastest experience at a DMV ever.

Perhaps it’s not fair of me to assume that the Milwaukee DMV is still a nightmare. After all, the last time I was there was well over a decade ago (maybe closer to two?), and things certainly could have improved since then. But since I had such good luck with the Saukville office prior, I stuck with them.

So the next time it’s time for you to visit the DMV, maybe try an office in a smaller city/town, even if it’s out of your way. It might be worth it.

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

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