What can I Expect from my First DMV Visit?

by Joshua on July 31, 2013

Receiving your first license at any age can be a fun and exciting time in your life. The opportunity to drive a vehicle on the road is one of the many freedoms many people across the United States cherish, and when it is your turn to exercise this right being prepared will assist you in a speedy process towards the goal. Most people visiting the DMV can be a little anxious having heard negative feedback from others, especially when it comes to the aspect of testing during your application process.

While it is true that the average new driver retakes the written portion test at least once, and that one out of five taking the driving test will fail, this can easily be avoided. In addition, another common complaint is that of being turned away and asked to return with further documentation making the application process appear to be a pain, full of delays and frustration. Again, being prepared in advance can help you avoid these little inconveniences and make your application process run smoothly.

Understanding the DMV Drivers License Application Process

For most aspects of the application process, power lies within your state to regulate the process of applying for and receiving your driver’s license. The exception to this rule is in the area of required documentation stemming from the recent enforcement of the REAL ID which generated a uniformed documentation process among all states. So you will find that no two local DMV’s are run the same, and many states have their own unique licensing process. The important thing you should know is how your specific states DMV operates and its requirements so that you can continue your application process without a hassle. General steps have to be taken regardless of your state, or the type of license that are receiving, though your DMV may very slightly in particular areas:

  • You will need to fill out a new driver’s license application or permit application if under 18. Some states have this application available online to download in advance making the process even faster but this will be your first piece of required documentation.
  • You will be required to submit proof of your age, full legal name, citizenship status and residency in the state you are applying. All states will have transitioned to the REAL ID program by the year 2017 making this aspect of applying less confusing but you can locate the approved documents on your DMV website. Be sure to find not only approved documentation off these lists only, but each state requires their own specific amounts from each category.
  • Specific additional documentation- your states website will contain a complete list of required documentation you will need in addition to the standard proofs listed above. For instance many states require minors to submit a note of permission to drive from a legal guardian or parent, while others require a certificate of completion for driver’s education. It is important to check with your DMV before heading to the office to avoid being sent away for improper documentation.
  • Regardless of the license type you are applying, your age or state location all citizens applying for a new license are required to pass a vision screening through your DMV office. This will be the first test you take in the process of licensing.
  • Written Tests- states differ slightly on the amount of questions that you will find on this exam, the way in which you can take the test and the required minimum passing score you will need to pass. Each written test is a multiple-choice exam with test answers taken directly from the state handbook and will cover important aspects of safe driving in your area.
  • Road Tests- It is up to your particular state who must take the driver’s test, where they may test and when during the process it is required. In most cases, if you are new driver under the age of 18 expect to take the drivers portion of testing. This is usually the final step in the licensing process and will involve an examiner grading your ability to follow traffic laws and safely handle the vehicle.
  • Paying the appropriate fees and taking a photo are the final steps in the licensing process you can expect while at your DMV office. State offices are slowly beginning to accept credit or debit cards in response to the times but you are safer bringing your fees in the form of cash or a check.

What to Expect from your Written Test

Written drivers tests are between 20 and 50 questions in length and offered only at the DMV office. Each state requires a minimum passing score on this test or tests in order to continue the process with the average passing score among the states being 75%. Depending on the state in which you reside, you will either take the test in paper/pencil form or with a kiosk computer system that generates you an automatic score at the end of testing. A designated area of the DMV is set aside for testing to assist you with concentration.

There are several ways to can prepare for this test to assure you pass on the first try:

  • Read through your States Drivers Manual several times
  • Use the cheat sheets DMVcheatsheets.com available full of valuable information you will find on test questions
  • Take multiple practice tests at DMVcheatsheets.com to check your progress and assure you are ready to pass
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