Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who am I? And how can I prove it?

Today was an exercise in frustration. I have a Pennsylvania driver's license, since I am a resident there while Bob is active duty, and it expires on Feb. 8. It is a hassle to get a renewal without actually living in PA, so I decided now would be a good time to get a Virginia license, especially since Bob will most likely retire here in the next year or so, and then I would have to get a VA one anyways.

There is a DMV really close to Bob's office, so we all trooped down there this morning. The plan was Bob would meet us there and take the kidss out for pizza while I waited. Now I have gotten driver's licenses in 3 other states, and I have always only needed the license from the previous state, as well as my military ID card. Not so here. In fact, Virginia requires a bizarre raft of documents. I had to have 2 proofs of identity (my PA license and my military ID), a "proof of legal presence" (birth certificate or passport), and proof of residency which was not just any old piece of mail with your name on it. No, it was a pay stub, W-2 form, tax return, mortgage statement, utility bill, or receipt for property tax paid (but NOT the actual bill for property tax, which was all I could find, LOL). Well, I simply don't happen to carry all my legal documents around with me, as well as old tax returns, so Bob took the kids to CiCi's, and I drove all the way back home to search for documents.

I searched our "important papers" folder and managed to find a "certificate of live birth" (which was NOT acceptable as per the DMV form), but not my actual birth certificate. I did manage to find my old passport, which I got in may 1993, right before we got married in July so I could use it to go to Europe on our honeymoon. After much fruitless searching for last year's tax return (which we did right after having Anna so who knows what we did with it), I finally rounded up a mortgage statement. It's amazing how much stuff only has Bob's name on it. Do I really exist?

I drove back down to the DMV, waited in line again, and this time was told that because my passport was issued in my maiden name, I needed my marriage license as well. "But, " I said, "my PA driver's license clearly has my name as 'Claire (maiden name) (last name)', and my military ID and and mortgage documents have my maiden name initial on them. Why doesn't that prove that I am married, and that the passport was issued to me?!" No dice. Absolutely not valid. Doesn't prove anything. Must have the marriage license. Oh, I was so frustrated. I was literally in tears with frustration, prompting a funny conversation between Jonathan and Caleb about whether or not mommies actually cry--Jonathan firmly denied that they do. (Do I really never cry in front of them? I must be some kind of stoic, LOL.)

The thing that really got me was that the active duty person ONLY has to show their active duty ID card. That proves everything. Evidently the VA DMV thinks that the military does scrupulous checks on the identities of their members, but that they issue dependent ID cards to anyone off the street. Good grief. Also, a few weeks ago there was an article in the Times (sorry, I'm lazy and am not going to bother searching for it) that talked about some DMV employee who was finally arrested for running a driver's license ring. She made something like several thousand licenses for illegal aliens over several years before finally being caught. So I'm sure we can all rest more safely knowing that illegal aliens can still find ways to get licenses, while law-abiding natural born citizens who happen to be military spouses, dragged to these beauracratic morasses, get hassled and have to jump through an inordinate amount of ridiculous hoops.

Tomorrow, clutching my entire folder of important papers (because they may decide they need to see proof of my college GPA and childhood vaccinations), I will attempt once again to get a VA driver's license. I am going to a different office this time. Maybe the third time in line will be a charm.


Laura said...

My sympathies! I went through the same thing there when I had to change my driver's license from NC to VA.

Unfortunately, I think more states (if not all) are doing the same thing now as a part of the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, etc. When we got here to AL last year and I had to change my DL again, I had to get a certified copy of my birth certificate, and a couple of other forms of ID, in addition to my social security card and my old DL. And they said that from now on all legal documents must have one's entire legal name on them. Thankfully, mine do, so I won't have to change any of them. But what a pain....

mattkimuber said...

Claire, your argument that having a military dependent ID should count for something was a good one. We carry driver's license in Texas. Matt doesn't even have to have a current one as long as he carries his mil Id. I was able to renew mine on-line. I am sorry of your ordeal.

Christa said...

Virginia is indeed RIDICULOUS, more than any state I've had to deal with for DMV's. THey are NAZI'S--NO exaggeration. All I can think of when I think of my last VA dmv experience was NIGHTMARE. Home several times, lines out the door...hours of waiting. I got a FL license when we got here, and was gearing all up for major hassles. Standing in line I hear the clerk say to someone needing a second form of ID for their license, don't you have anything else on you with your name on it? A library card? Eh! Anybody here can vouch for this guy?" I'm thinking, Oh my goodness...180 opposite VA. And my mil ID was totally sufficient as a 2nd ID, besides my old license that was all I needed. Sorry for your pain...I've been there!!! They have steal in their eyes too! Ooh!