Everyone knows the Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) has a bad rep for being slow, inefficient, and enerving. But that's no reason to put off going. While the agency isn't perfect, things have gotten so much better recently, and a lot of old-timey jokes don't really hold up anymore. These nine tips will make your next trip to the DMV quicker and easier, so start taking notes.
9 Tips to Make a Trip to the DMV Smoother
The secret to a stress-free visit to the DMV is a bit of research and prep work. You'd be surprised at how many people have no idea about the latest innovations making the DMV a not-so-daunting place.
1. Get It Done Online
Most states let you get some things done online, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, you may be able to renew your driver's license or register a new vehicle you bought from home. Visit your state's DMV website to see if you can save yourself a trip to a physical location.
2. Make an Appointment
If you have to go in person, try making an appointment. Several states let you pick a time and date for your visit, and some (like Texas) even require it. You'll avoid crowded offices and wasting time waiting in line.
3. Use DMV Kiosks
You may find self-service kiosks at some DMV offices. States like West Virginia and California rely on them to streamline processes, no appointment or waiting required. Don't be intimidated by them — they're pretty easy to use. And they reduce the need for person-to-person contact, which can be a good thing in our post-pandemic world.
4. Check Wait Times
If you have to brave the lines at the DMV, at least check wait times online. Some states, like Tennessee, issue estimates for each office so you can plan your day around it.
5. Avoid Peak Hours
Not everyone can (or wants to) take time off work to go to the DMV. That's why most offices are busiest during lunchtime, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you can, avoid going then like you would avoid driving in traffic.
6. Consider Using a Third-Party Service
You could skip the line at the DMV and have a third-party firm handle your business in some states (for example, California). But be careful. Before handing over any money or sensitive information, check your state's DMV website to see if the company is approved; there are scams out there.
7. Be Prepared
Fill out all the forms and take all the documents required before stepping foot in the DMV office. Your state's DMV website will list what you'll need for your visit. If you don't, you might be told to go back another day.
8. Be Nice
Yes, the DMV can be chaotic at times, but don't let that get you in a bad mood. Being nice to the workers at the DMV might clear up misunderstandings and get them on your side (so they'll let some mistakes slide), which could save you time. Besides, it's the kind thing to do.
9. Take Something to Keep You Busy
Finally, take some entertainment with you. Make sure your phone's fully charged, pack a book, or bring along homework to finish while you wait. Time will go by faster if you're not staring at the clock counting every minute.
Take Your First Step with Online Driver's Ed Classes
If you've never dealt with the DMV before, it's likely because you're not driving yet. When you're ready for that big step in conquering your freedom, the first thing to do is to enroll in a driver's ed course. No need to visit the DMV or go to an in-person school: DriversEd.com lets you take classes from home and at your own pace! Once you get your certificate, you can finally experience the joys of visiting your local DMV like an adult.