I Can’t Drive 55

Here in Colorado, our driver’s licenses renew on our birthdays.  I guess that makes it easy to remember.  We will have been here five years in a few weeks, so it was just short of five years.  After attempting to do my renewal online in April, and failing, I scheduled an appointment with the DMV to get it renewed on my birthday.

It turned out not to be so simple.  When I presented my license to the clerk, I was told I hadn’t had a valid license in more than four years.  It had been suspended.  I’d been driving all this time without a valid license.  How did this all happen?  Well, it was my fault.  But I’m going to place some of the blame on the State of Colorado, as well.

You see, not too long after we moved here, I got a ridiculous ticket for “running a stop sign.”  I didn’t run a stop sign, but the cop was not amused by having to work on a Sunday morning, and was pulling virtually everyone over at a small intersection west of town.  I was on my way back from walking around the Ponds at Pella Crossing, and he was right behind me.  I stopped, counted to three, and turned right.

I could have argued the ticket, I suppose, but I just paid it, because it wasn’t that much money.  I did, however, pay it late.  About three weeks late.  I paid the late fee.  The deal was done, I moved on.

But apparently, in that three week time period, the state of Colorado moved to suspend my license for non-payment of the ticket.  I was never notified of the suspension, so I never knew.  No one caught it.  I’ve renewed license plates on cars twice, I’ve changed insurance companies once, I changed my voter registration three times, and no one caught it.  When I asked the clerk why I wouldn’t have been notified, he asked if I had moved.  No, at the time I got the ticket, and paid for the ticket, and for the next six months after the ticket, I lived in the same place, the same address that is on my license.  But he did tell me “you are not alone.”  I guess this happens frequently.

Anyway, I’m thinking, no big deal, just get it reinstated, we move on.   Well, not so fast, apparently.  Because I had been without a license for so long, I was no longer renewable.  I had to start over.  Like I was 15 again.  Only that was forty years ago.  At the ripe old age of 55, I now need to take the written test to get a permit, then take a driving test.  I have to pass both.  I also have to give them some money, even if I don’t pass.

I wrote a check for $95 (they don’t take cards) to reinstate from the suspension.

Then I write a check for $16.80 so I would be allowed to take the permit test.  The clerk sends me over to the bank of computers where all the 15 year olds are taking their permit tests.  I have to answer at least 20 of 25 questions correctly.  I got to question 8 before I missed one (it tells you as you go).  Then I missed another, and another.  In the end, I got my 20 correct, but only by sheer luck.  Whew.

Sit in line to get my picture taken.  Get my permit.  Now it’s time to drive.  Only they have a four-week wait for driving tests, and I have to go home and make an appointment online.  In the meantime, I’m not legally allowed to drive without a licensed adult in the car.

Huh.  Now what?

Fortunately for me, there are a list of authorized contractors who can conduct driving exams.  The cost is anywhere from $40 to $200 for that privilege. There is one right there in the same plaza with the DMV.  Turns out he was the cheapest, he could take  me right away, but oh yeah, you need cash.  So, I take my illegal self to my car, drive illegally across the street to the ATM to get cash.  He does a quick safety inspection of the car (tail/brake lights, horn, turn signals) and we head out.  The driving test takes about four minutes.  They don’t do parallel parking any more, so I couldn’t get the easy points.  I had to do it the hard way.  I was dinged for not stopping quite right at stop signs, and not looking at side streets as we passed them.  But I passed.

Back to the DMV I went, paid my $25 fee for my full license, and sat in line again waiting to get my picture taken.  Because the can’t just use that permit one they took 30 minutes ago.  Click/flash, and I walked out with a valid license.  Total time elapsed:  2 hours and 40 minutes.

I can now drive 55 again.

I’m pretty surprised, and proud, that I could pass both the written and driving tests some 35-40 years after I last did it.  I was mildly worried, but just tried to stay positive, and I survived it.

But I hope I never have to do that again.  And I’m darned lucky I didn’t get pulled over or have an accident at any point over the last four years.  Very very lucky.

3 Responses to “I Can’t Drive 55”

  1. Vickie says on :

    Wow! what a day!

  2. Debbie says on :

    I’m afraid I’d never drive again…..but again, you overcame my Princess!

  3. Ladyhawke says on :

    Dang! What an ordeal. Lots of extra cash outlay too. Bummer. As for the rest? The fates were smiling on you.