Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Lessons from the DMV - Preparation

I continue sharing insights I gained from my DMV experience. The series is:

You (or future me) will be better prepared for the next DMV by having a better attitude towards the DMV.

This article will take you three minutes to read.

Francis William Edmonds - Preparing for Christmas source and more information

Luck is for the prepared

Going to the DMV is not for the faint of heart. Nobody just “goes to the DMV” for fun. They go when they have to.

The less prepared you are for the DMV, the less fun going to the DMV will be.

Hence, preparing well before you go or have to go to the DMV is the best approach. What does this mean?

  • Read all information related to the objective you have at the DMV. Reading a single source well is good, reading another authoritative source is great.
  • The DMV spells out all rules of their process in their publications. Understanding the rules may take some interpretation that is outside of your normal day-to-day (remember, they support different aspects of society.) So, if you’re unsure, reach out to another source.
  • Have back up and alternatives, just in case your interpretation and/or understanding is not aligned, even after preparing. DMV may not have spelled out all of their rules. The DMV may be publishing new rules that fall into your case. (Aren’t you lucky??)


If you need any documentation to support your trip to the DMV, bring them in an organized manner.

I recommend a simple file folder with paper clips for each different class. By using a file folder, one can collect documents in a single location ahead of the DMV appointment.

Another recommendation: gather extra supporting documentation while gathering basic documentation from the required list.

For instance, if I understand I need two pieces of mail identifying my address, I would bring at least two listed on the DMV requirements. I would also bring any extra documents I have available that fall into the same requirements.

This way, if the first two fail for any reason or I get lucky, I have another set to support me. I would not have to revisit the DMV with this extra set of documents.

Writing Instruments

I have found that any time there are documents required, there is a requirement for you to sign or complete a form on the spot.

To do that, one would use a pen, or another writing instrument.

Bring writing instruments with you to the DMV so you’re not caught by surprise with this requirement and they don’t have a pen for you to borrow.

Prepare to Wait

In almost all instances of my experience at the DMV, there’s greater than expected time waiting.

Yes, even with a “reservation”.

I have heard others have breezed through the DMV, I have had no such luck.

The next best thing is to prepare to wait. Have a buffer between your DMV appointment and your next appointment. I would even recommend at least two hours as a buffer.

Remember, when you’re waiting at the DMV for a long time, issue is not you - it’s the others that have not prepared well and there’s a cascading effect of slowing everyone after down. Hence, if you can go to the DMV early, go!


Whenever I have to wait for an unknown duration, I find it helpful to have something to drink. Bringing water or your favorite fluids to hydrate will keep you comfortable while you wait.

Staying hydrated will improve your mood when your turn is up.

Occupying the Time

One thing about waiting at the DMV is that there are seats. Bringing something to occupy yourself during the waiting period helps immensely in:

  • keeping your mind off of “waiting”
  • doing something you enjoy/catch up on work/to relax/be productive etc.
  • wait better

Bring something you can do while sitting. Bonus points if you bring something to occupy your time while standing, because you never know.


If there is payment required for the DMV services you are using, bring payment forms listed on their requirements documentation.

Just like with documentation, bring additional payment methods so you do not get caught up with not being able to complete the last step of your trip to the DMV, which usually involves payment to finalize the process.