DMV-Brand Glue

I thought the previous experience with the DMV was the most aggravating experience I’d ever have to endure. I was wrong. Why? Because I got a letter today from the DMV today requesting more information to support my previous car registration application. For the third time. Since January.

When I first arrived in California, I dutifully attempted to register my car at the California DMV. California requires you to register your car within 20 days of arrival – something that is impossible to do given the DMV’s totally inconvenient hours of operations. Nevertheless, Ashley and I trudged into the DMV, armed with our vehicle, proof of vehicle ownership, smog certificate, proof of identity, proof of compliance with US safety standards, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. After filling out the paperwork and letting a DMV employee verify the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number), we got our new California plates and were done. A few days later we got our temporary registration sticker in the mail. Easy, right? A little too easy…

A few weeks later, it started.

We got a letter in the mail from the DMV stating that we had failed to provide proof that the car was compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and US EPA emission regulations. Despite the fact that we had provided them with the requisite letter from Toyota, as instructed. Oh, and we also forgot to provide a smog certificate – except that we had provided it to them in person, as instructed. Oh, and that we needed to provide a Customs form that showed that the car had passed Customs inspection – despite the fact that we drove into California, and had been told by a US Customs officer no such declaration would be necessary.

Fine. We gathered up the paperwork required. I even went out the SFO to get US Customs to provide the required Customs declaration – even though they didn’t know what form was required, why the DMV would require that form, and lost our application for that form. But we got it all together and sent it in.

A few weeks later, we got another letter. This time, the DMV required our VIN to be verified by a peace officer – despite the fact that they already had the VIN in their computer, and that it had been put there by a DMV employee. I took a quick trip to the Mountain View Police Department, interrupted a police officer from doing real work, got the form filled out, and sent the paperwork back to the DMV. Again.

Then today, we got another letter from the DMV. This time, the DMV wants the original application for vehicle registration. The original registration that we handed to the DMV employee, and that got returned to us with our temporary registration sticker? The same.

This is ridiculous. California is struggling to recover from crippling debt, debt that has required a $15 billion bond offering to keep the state afloat. I think I now understand the source of the problem – then again, it’s the same problem everywhere. Extremely Stupid Bureaucracy™: the glue that holds together the gears of our economy.

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