Purchasing a car first ment time to get a California Drivers' License at the Department of Motor Vehicles ("the DMV"). While often ridiculed for the long lines and bureaucracy, the California DMV is currently a very modern and computerized department. Most paperwork can now be obtained and filed online.
Obtaining a Drivers' License was a bizarre experience. First of all, the theoretical exam is a walk in the park. However it can be very tricky. One question I still remember today: "If you get caught spraying graffiti, your drivers' license will be a) suspended b) suspended/delayed till you are at least 21 years old c) not affected."** What this had to do with being a safe driver and knowing the road rules, was a mystery to me. For a flavour of the current exams, check out some of the sample tests. As I paid the $12 registration fee, the office clerk asked me in which language did I want to take the test. "Huh? In which language? .. English", I said, "but what are my choices?" "I am glad you asked", he said, and rattled of a list of languages. Besides English, the basic Class C written driver license exam is also available in the following languages:
Besides English, the basic Class C audio driver license exam is also available in the following languages:
Since I had studied the Driver's handbook in English, I opted for English. But I found it bizarre that English is not a requirement to drive a car. Will the California Highway Patrol dispatch a translator when they pull a Laotian over, unable to speak a word of English?
Give me a break! As English is the official language, English should be the only language in which you can take the Drivers' Exam. And let's save a few trees and dollars translating and printing the Driver's handbooks and exams in the various languages. (Or at least add Dutch/Flemish.)
* It's somewhat a mystery to me that the 2005 model gets delivered to the show rooms by summer 2004. The 2005 model should arrive in January 2005.
** If I remember correctly, your drivers' license will be b) delayed/suspended till at least 21 years of age.