I have no idea what laws or governance inform each state regarding driver licenses, vehicle registration renewals, and all such related matter. Living in Washington, we can do the majority of this stuff, except for that very first driver’s license issue, online.
I have for many years renewed my car license tabs online and they just mail them to me. Simple and quick, which is what I like.
Years ago, our systems began to allow for extended driver’s license renewals. That simply meant that if you are a relatively competent driver, you don’t move around a lot, change your appearance, or in some other way place yourself under the watchful eye of the law, then you had no need to renew your driver’s license for about five years. The great thing also was that you could renew online. It was as easy as checking a few boxes, being told that you were stuck with the same god-awful picture, (because who has ever seen a really GOOD driver’s license picture) and then waiting for the new license to arrive in the mail.
So, in 2009, when my license was due for renewal, that’s exactly what I did. The picture on that license wasn’t the worst one I’ve had taken, although my very pixie-short haircut has changed, and I fudged on the weight category a bit. So when the license came in the mail I put it away in my purse where it has remained, virtually untouched, and unread, for the last five years.
Today, while online renewing my car license tabs I came across a handy new service from our Department of Licensing that appears to be an improved version of the older online experience. Great, I thought, and proceeded to sign up, click a few boxes, enter my credit card information, and await my license tabs in the mail.
Another notice also popped up in my browser window. Something sorta like:
Deborah: (cause that’s my official name) [In bold RED letters]
License Expired: 09/16/2014
Yep, that’s right. I’ve been driving for over a month with an expired license, and the sad thing is that, had I not had to renew my car tabs, I would probably not have realized this little point of fact.
The lovely lady at the Department of Licensing was kind. She did not make me feel incapable of functioning in society. She did not make any mention that turning 55 suddenly makes you old and forgetful. She simply double checked my information, checked my eyesight, took my $54 and sent me over to have my new picture taken.
I now have my temporary and valid driver’s license in my purse. We won’t even begin to discuss the picture on this one except to say that I wanted to plead for a heavy bribe to use the old one, even though my appearance has changed dramatically, but thought they might not take too kindly to that idea. The positive side to a rotten picture, if anything like last time, is that the license never gets pulled out of my purse anyway. It’s not like I’m flashing it around, or getting carded when I buy a bottle of wine anymore.
Besides, the new license won’t expire for six years. I can’t even imagine how much different (notice I didn’t say older) I will look by then. If need be I can just go visit the office in person and get a new picture taken…unless I forget.
This new system assures me of an email reminder. I thought the old system did that as well. I even asked the kindly lady about this while apologizing profusely for my error. Her statement went something like, “Well…the state doesn’t always send those reminders…”
I’m thinking that a petition needs to be made requiring the state to send those reminders to anyone over 50. Let the younger driver’s take their chances–me…I’d rather have a gentle reminder.