Tuesday, November 30, 2004


The DMV visit went fine: a 45-minute wait, but once you get to the head of the line it all goes pretty quickly. An quick eye test (reading lines off a chart, first with both eyes open, and then with one or other eye covered); a photo; a thumbprint; and the theory test. 36 questions, of which you can fail up to 6.

I'd brushed up with the California Drivers Handbook (which the DMV hands out free) and some sample tests the night before, so I wasn't too worried; driving here is not terribly different to driving in the UK and most of the questions are common-sense safety. As with the UK tests, there's some figures it's worth committing to memory: here they're blood alcohol levels (0.08% for over-21s, 0.01% for 21 and under); some of the parking distances (18 inches or less from the kerb; 15 feet or more from a hydrant); and some of the significant driving distances (indicate from 100 feet or more; enter bike lanes to turn 200 feet or less).

And it paid off: 100% pass. I now have the permit which lets me practice driving accompanied by a license-holder, and I can schedule the driving test which turns it into a full-blown license. The earliest appointment in Walnut Creek was 24th December — too long to wait — but there's another DMV office at Pleasanton which can fit me in on Friday (hooray) and which is has easier roads to test on (hooray again).