I can’t get a driver’s license
At least not for some time
I thought that I would have a driver’s license by the end of this week. I was pretty much certain of it. I found out this morning that it won’t happen.
I won’t be able to have a driver’s license this week, as I expected. It might be 6 months before I can get a driver’s license. But, there is an outside chance that I might be able to get one in a week or two.
Let’s see why and how.
I made two big mistakes
Both of my mistakes happened at the same time!
Mistake number one was that before moving back to the USA, I was cleaning out my desk and I threw a lot of stuff away. I was limited on how much I could bring back with me, and I threw many things away.
The mistake was that I still had a copy of my old Washington State Driver’s license, and I threw it away. It had expired in 2003 and had been canceled out by the Philippine LTO (Land Transportation Office) when I got a Philippine Driver’s license in 2000. So, I figured that it was so old that I would never need it again.
Mistake number two was that in 2018 my Philippines Driver’s license expired. I stopped driving in 2015 because my eyes had deteriorated (due to diabetic retinopathy) so drastically that it was no longer safe to drive. However, my eyes have now improved a lot and I can pass the eye exam part of the driving test. But, when my driver’s license expired in 2018, I stashed it into my desk, and during the pre-move cleaning, I tossed it. I would not be driving in the Philippines anymore, so why would I need it. It was expired anyway.
Welcome to Indiana
When we arrived in Indiana my eyes were still not good enough to get a driver’s license, I knew it, so I did not even try. But, with recent vision improvements, I went to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) and took the eye test and passed easily. So, that got me excited to get a driver’s license and get behind the wheel again.
About 2 weeks ago I went back to the BMV to apply for a driver’s license. They told me that I had several options:
- Show them my old Washington Driver’s License
- Show them my old Philippine Driver’s License
- Obtain my Washington State Driver’s record
- Get a Learner’s Permit and start from scratch
Well, let’s see. Washington license, I trashed that. Philippine License, yep, in the trash. So, I decided to obtain my Washington State Driver’s Record.
Getting my Driver’s Record
I went online and found the appropriate form, and found out that I had to send $13 and a completed form to the Department of Licensing in Washington. Downloaded the form and sent it off.
About a week or so later I got an email with the PDF driver’s record. It looked pretty sparse, but I never had any infractions during the 13 years I lived in Washington, so I figured that is why there was not a lot of information.
Today I went to get a driver’s license
I went back to the BMV this morning, very confident and excited to have a driver’s license again. Handed the driver’s record to the lady behind the counter. She frowned and said, “This is not the proper form, it should have more information.”
I told her that this is the form that the Washington Department of Licensing said that I needed and they did not have any other form. So, she took the Driver’s record to her manager, and he told her that it was not adequate.
I was pretty disappointed. I really wanted a driver’s license.
Letter in the mailbox
When I got home from the BMV, I checked my mailbox and the mailman had left one piece of mail. It was from the Washington Department of Licensing. I thought, gee, maybe this is the real form, the one I got in an email was just to confirm that the real form had been mailed.
I opened the letter. More disappointment. Just a paper copy of the form that I had gotten in my email last Friday.
So, what could I do?
I looked at a number of options.
- Move back to Washington temporarily and get a driver’s license there, then come back to Indiana with that in hand.
- Get my Philippines driver’s license renewed, it would only require a small payment. However, it might mean I have to travel back to the Philippines to get the renewal. Then, with that in hand, I could get an Indiana license.
- Talk to an attorney who has a history working in BMV involved cases and see if he can help me.
- Go to the BMV main office in Indianapolis and see if they would have a better handle on taking care of my rather unique circumstances.
- Right now, I have something going on with the Philippine LTO (Land Transportation Office) trying to get my driver’s license there renewed. I should find out in the next couple of days if that will be possible.
The system here…
I told the lady at the BMV this morning that the system here in the USA is not really set up to work well for a person like me who lived outside the country for a significant amount of time. She did not seem to like it when I said that, although I did not intend it to be offensive.
I am ready to start driving again
Now that I am able to see well enough to get a driver’s license, I really want to get behind the wheel and get my freedom back.
At a minimum, if everything goes just right, I think that is two weeks away. If I have to get a learner’s permit, that means we are talking 6 to 7 months before I’ll have a driver’s license.
Wish me luck!
I hope it works out!
Hi Yvonne. I do too! Soon, too, I hope!
Good luck Bob. Getting a DL for my wife was a nightmare in Georgia. Long story short, had to contact my State Representative who contact the head of DMV who contacted me before we could get it done. Took 4 trips to DMV in Kansas when we moved to get my step son his learners permit so he could take drivers ed also. Today’s rules at DMV are very strict because of Patriot Act and getting license with Gold Star for use of it as id for airline travel requires multiple documents showing proof of residence, and legal rights to be here. Surely if you get a learner’s permit you should not have to wait a long time to take the driving test to get your license. Take care.
Hi Bob, wow, that sounds like an ordeal.
The Driver’s License with the star in the corner is called “Real ID”. I have already jumped that hurdle and have a Real ID State ID card, so I won’t have to go through that again.
Of course, I also have a Passport, which trumps Real ID, and allows me to travel on the airlines, even for domestic.
Wow, what a predicament. At least you have several options and should be good to go soon. I’m not sure I can ever drive in the US anymore. I’ve gotten so used to ignoring traffic laws (just like everyone else in the province it seems) that I routinely drive in a manner here that would probably not be appreciated there…and I enjoy it, lol. Driver’s Ed? That seems a bit silly but it probably wouldn’t hurt to get some practice in anyway. Good luck Bob and take care. Those Indiana drivers aren’t much better than the ones in Samar, hehe. (As a licensed Ohio driver I feel confident in that, hehe)
Hi Mark – I think I have successfully made the mental shift to US style driving after driving in the Philippines so long. I don’t feel the urge to drive the way that they drive there. LoL. That certainly is a big shift! 🙂
Sorry you are having such a hard time. I remember I used to visit the States every year for a few weeks and would keep my Alabama driver’s license up-to-date while I was here. That made things a lot easier when we moved back.
Yes, I can see how that would have been helpful. My problem is that I never thought I’d live here again, so I did not take such steps.
Gary D Hamilton
Good luck Bob, I hope it will all work out.
Thank you very much, Gary.
You could buy a Scotter under 100 cc and drive with no license. Just kidding.
What you say is true though. But I want something for the family.
Hi Bob –
Each State has different rules for just about every facet of life in or out of the U.S. One can only imagine that this is the example followed in the Philippines by various agencies and establishments (e.g., differences exhibited by different branches of a bank, or different LTO offices, etc.). It’s too bad that the country is so large that one can’t go “shopping” for desired results very easily (not to mention no “fixers,” ah, let me rephrase that, “customer expedite agents” 😁)
Hang in there.
If anything, you’ve uncovered possibly the only benefit of playing the annual Balikbayan game – not having to “re-do” things normally taken for granted. (Began the annual “vacation from my vacation” on May 1, and going from 95°F to 40°F temperatures has taught me to delay next year’s trip by at least a few weeks!)
Hi Paul – Well, because I am conservative, I do believe in State’s right and that they should be able to be different and have their own policies. But, this is crazy. In fact, the other day while this was going on, I thought of an old phrase that is common – “Driving is a privilege, not a right.” That has certainly been confirmed to me, and so far I am not worthy of the privilege, it seems.
I agree, this is one example where the “snowbirding” or annual balikbayan adventure has its advantages.
Hi Bob, I can’t believe they gave you a hard time getting your DL. You are a US citizen. When we live in NJ last year, they want all the illegals to get a DL as their documents 😁 only in sanctuary City I guess. I can’t believe they gave you a hard time for this😊
Hi Nilda, glad you were able to get into my site.
I know, it is so frustrating, and kind of a catch-22 situation right now. There is no right answer, it seems, on how to get a driver’s license.
Just a while ago I sent an email to an attorney to see if he can help me. I should be having a meeting with him in the next few days. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Good luck Bob!
Thank you, Jerome!
Here in MO you can take the test and have a licence that day. Mine was over a year out of date when I got back and they wouldn’t accept a Philippine licence so had to take the test and got it that day.
What I have to get a learner’s permit? That’s what they are requiring here.