To Top

And Now For A Special Comment about the Idaho DMV

• CATEGORIES: Features

First, thanks for all the warm thoughts.  I did make it to Seattle today. Whatever they did in the hospital has improved the situation with Dad.  However, I also ran into few issues on the way up here.  Look for updates later tonight, but for now enjoy this minor rant of mine.


Dear State of Idaho DMV, thank you so much for my new temporary driver’s license.  Despite the size of the government of Idaho, you’ve taken the time to use this opportunity to remind me, in a personal way, of just how fast and awkward our bureaucracy continues to become and how quickly ones normal function can be curtailed by the state.

And here, I thought you were only asking me to renew my driver’s license.

To your credit, the lessons started quickly.  For example, I had no idea that my out-of-state check from Washington would be rejected with such zeal when I mailed in my initial driver’s license renewal application.  You see, my main bank is in Washington State and every other business, utility and government entity in Idaho seems function perfectly well using my checks.

Naturally, before sending you my check, I looked at the application to see whom I should make the check to and if there were any qualifications.  How silly of me to expect that you’d put a “we do not accept out of state checks” notice on the renewal application, or anywhere else for that matter.   I guess that qualifier is only for people in the know.

Of course, once I received the declined application in the mail, I headed directly to the DMV, the new one near the Boise Mall.  What I learned there is that your ability to manage lines and waiting times is impressive.  It really was.  I was in and out with my temporary license and my new car tabs in under 20 minutes.

The downside is, perhaps to make the process faster, you only issued me a temporary permit, unlike other states which manage to produce actual licenses when they renew a license, like California and Utah, the two previous states I called home.  Moreover, you took away my actual license, still good and valid up until my birthday.  This didn’t seem to be a big deal at the time, but that was before I tried to use the temporary permit.

You see, State of Idaho, no one believes the temporary permit is valid. They either chuckle and shake their head at it or look aghast, assuming it is a fake.   I’m no longer a person with the rights the power of a plastic ID bestowed upon me. Instead, I’m a sub human, I’m a second class citizen, I’m a paper ID’d pauper.  When I attempted to cash a check at a major bank – a bank I had been using for two years – they looked at my paper ID and said it wasn’t valid.  I responded it was, telling them the State of Idaho issued it and took my expiring ID.  They said they really weren’t supposed to take it, but they would make an exception in my case.  This was fortunate for me, as I had to get some cash to run north to Seattle.  However, I left puzzled wondering why something printed on plastic would seem so much more authentic than paper.  After all, I can guarantte that I can create a reasonably good fake ID in short order using photoshop and then transfer it onto either paper or plastic.  What’s magic about plastic?

As I traveled north, passing through Yakima, my tire blew.  After changing my tire and deciding to buy new tires before traveling any farther, I had to get a motel for the evening.  Well, it turns out the motel was not going to take my paper ID either.  You see, they don’t accept a temporary ID as a valid form of ID.  After the clerk explained to me that they didn’t accept the ID, he mentioned that I was essentially didn’t exist for the time being.  I too was coming to that conclusion.

However, the clerk took pity on me and said, while he wasn’t supposed to rent me a room, he didn’t want me to have to sleep in my car, so he’d make an exception in this case.  Well, gee, thanks Mr. stereotypical World of War Craft playing kid (yes, as he worked at the desk and, when not helping me, was playing WOW and looked like he had been playing WOW for years).

After putting my stuff in my room, I decided I was not ready to settle down quite yet, so I thought I’d go play some pool.  As I walked by the desk, I asked the desk clerk if he knew of any places to play pool in Yakima.  He didn’t play pool, he said, and didn’t really go out to bars, he said – and I’m not surprised by either answer from the WOW playing 21 year old – but, he did know of at least one place.  Then he added the kicker.  He reminded me that with my temporary license, I probably couldn’t get a drink.

Well State of Idaho DMV, that was the kicker.  My birthday is in two days and it is entirely possible that, as a 46 year old, away from home visiting my sick father, that your stupid temporary ID will make it impossible for me to enjoy a night out with my sister and cousin playing pool and having a few drinks.

So, until I return to Idaho and get my plastic driver’s license, I’m forced to accept my second class citizenry, paper ID and all.  How screwed up is a system that won’t let a 46 year old get a drink without ID, won’t let him rent a motel room (even bearing plenty of cash), and won’t allow him to do just about anything else?  If I’d known, I would have brought my passport, but funny how I assumed I was a citizen of the damn USA!

It’s always wonderful to have an educational opportunity thrust upon oneself.  In this case, I’ve learned just how fragile my existence as a citizen is. So, thank you Idaho State DMV.


4 Comments on “And Now For A Special Comment about the Idaho DMV

  1. Windyhill

    Isn’t it great to live in the free good old USA! Ran into a similer situation after my walet went missing 2 days into a 3 week West road trip! Banks wouldn’t let me use my accounts because I didn’t have photo ID, hotels wouldn’t let me stay etc. What a total load of crap! hope you get it figured out soon. #@%*! DMV,s

  2. Bob OB

    Yours was a well written,thoughtful editorial.Good luck,keep your chin up, have faith in your fellow man,but your’e probably screwed.

  3. Paul

    Anytime the government is involved common sense goes out the window. Two months ago I received a bill fron Nav. Canada for $20.00. These government weasels claimed a wrecked aircraft I own (which hasn’t flown for 60 years) had flown from North Dakota into Canada and I needed to pay a fee for using their air traffic control system. I checked and the bare fuselage was still leaning against my garage missing the engine, interior, wings, tail surfaces, landing gear and fabric covering. It took numerous Alaska to Canada phone calls to get this problem resolved and the Canadian air traffic control folks had made a mistake, oopsie. I was told to ignore the bill and I did. The next month I received bill #2 with a notice of a 21% interest rate on the original charge because I hadn’t paid the bill. Hang in there, Dave!

  4. Stephen

    First off, it is good to know everything went well for your dad.
    Second. You are not alone.
    California (last year) sent me a renewal by mail notice. I was eligible to renew my DL by mail this time. No muss no fuss at the DMV for me…. HURRAY!!! And since you have to make appointments because of cut backs, this really worked for me! HA!
    I sent the check in December. My birthday and expiration date this year of 2011 was in February. PLENTY OF TIME I thought.
    February came and went. Check had been cleared and cashed. No License.
    I go to the DMV (yes the same one that also lost my on line scheduled appointment with confirmation number and set time. Are we seeing a pattern here?)
    It has not been processed and is still pending processing. Ok I understand. You all fubar’d the whole program by not being able to deliver on being able to produce those new cards like ya’ll designed and there was a delay and now all the cards are behind. NO PROBLEM. Get issued a temporary paper license for 120 days……….
    Well… It’s June now and I believe as of the 11th, I am expired again. No Card yet.
    SO I too am a subclass paper pauper in my state. You are not alone my friend.
    I will be down at the DMV next week to see what happened now and what may happen prior to my expiration date. I feel like old milk.
    I am grateful that I live in a small town in the mountains where I hardly ever have to show my ID and everyone knows me by name at my bank. My stores, my gas stations. I can write checks to my hearts content. No one ever questions them or my integrity or identity.
    The local sheriffs will sign me off on a CCW permit, but I can’t get a simple little card with the same number I have had since I was 15.5 for the life of me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting