When you live a while in a place, your interactions with the DMV become infrequent. You only have to show up in person to renew your license (as long as you have the car dealer do the registration on new or leased cars). So I had not had any memorable experiences in Connecticut with the DMV.
My experiences in Wisconsin were fine. At least in Eau Claire, they have a system where you walk up to a machine, and push a button for a number, depending on the type of transaction. Then you sit and wait for your number. No big deal. I may have waited as long as 20 minutes on one occasion.
My experiences in Louisiana started out, well, okay. First of all, you get in a very long line, and then when you get to the head of the line, you get a number depending on the type of transaction. That part took me the better part of an hour, but from then on, it moved very quickly and efficiently. I registered my car and got my license in one trip. Not bad. Maybe I was lucky because in Wisconsin, even if you finance your car, you get the title.
Well, it gets worse. My partner has a leased car which she leased before leaving Minnesota. It took a total of seven trips to the DMV, plus a trip to the car dealer, multiple faxes and phone calls to the car company over the course of 3 months to get her car registered. It seems like Louisiana makes it hard to register a leased car, and to move it from another state. The first time they gave a list of documents. Well, based on using the standard English meaning of the word "or" we thought we had the documents after the visit to the car dealer and the first fax to the car company. But, no, we did not. Another fax to the car company, and more documents sent to us, and we tried again. [Remember, each time, there is the wait in the long line for the number only to be told we are missing documents!] We try a different DMV office, located in our parish, but on the other side of the river. Finding it was an adventure in itself, but....even though it is an official office, they don't do out-of-state transfers or drivers licences! Back to the other DMV office. We get in line again. They say, "You have to have the original title." (This is even though the document they had previously given us said "or a certified copy.") But we say, they won't give us the original. They say, have them send it. We call. We can't ask to have it sent, the DMV has to ask. Another trip. We get them to ask. How will we know it is there? They say to call the toll-free number and ask to be transferred to that office. Off we go. A few days later, we call the toll-free number. "Oh, we can't transfer you. You have to go there in person." Another wait in line, and....they don't have it!
On the final trip, it works! Car registered, plates given, drivers license in hand.
But wait. Then there is the matter of brake tags.
I never would have known if someone had not casually mentioned them. This seems like the biggest boondoggle of all. Each parish has its own rules, some require emissions, some do not. (Thank goodness, Orleans Parish does not.) I visit a local service station which advertises "Brake Tags" and pull up. It costs $20. For this amount they:
- Examine registration and insurance card
- Check the head lights, tail lights, turn signals
- Check the windshield for cracks
- Check the windshield wipers
- Check the horn
Well, my car was done. Having gotten the plates for the other car, we went on Saturday afternoon to get brake tags. Sorry, only do those between 8 am and noon on Saturday (that would be a day when people who work could actually get there). But, they will be doing it on Monday, Memorial Day from 8 am until 4 pm. Monday we pull up at about 9 am. We think all is fine. But wait, it is raining, and they don't do it in the rain or when the pavement is wet. [WTF???] Talk about a scam.
I will say I am puzzled about the brake checks. They are supposed to be done every year. If that is true, why do I follow so many cars which have at least one non-working tail light and/or turn signal (and, no, it is not that they don't use them -- which many don't)? Why do I see so many cars that pass me or that I pass which have cracks all the way across the windshield, and many of them have many cracks?
Definitely counts as, the current terminology on the web goes: FAIL!