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How to keep your sanity at the DMV

There are not many more things I dread in this world than a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I’ve lived in a few different states, and been to a few different DMV offices- but they are all the same. There is always a ridiculously large number of people waiting. They are undoubtedly always understaffed. And for some reason, I always get singled out by some fellow patron who wants to tell me their entire life story while we wait for hours on end.

Recently I underwent extreme DMV torture by having to make three (yes, three) trips in a one month span. I won’t bore you with the details, let it just suffice to say name change on my license, address changes on my registration and finally, updating my title after buying out my vehicle.

If there was any silver lining to my experience I can say I learned a thing or two about ways to make your DMV trip less painful.

Drum roll please…

#5- First and foremost- avoid the trip if possible!
These days many common DMV services are offered online right from the convenience of your home computer. Most states offer online DMV services that include requesting a duplicate drivers license, updating your address and scheduling road tests. Check online to see if you can avoid the trip completely.

#4- Don’t bring your kids if you don’t have to.
I truly say this for your own good.  I brought my 10 month old son on a recent trip to the DMV and I can assure you, his patience had completely worn out half way through the trip. A whining child does not help the already unpleasant situation. If you can, leave the little ones with family or a friend and make the trip solo.

#3- Bring something to do.
Stop believing that you will be in and out and grab a magazine or a book to keep you distracted. Just make sure you’re paying enough attention so that when your number gets called you don’t miss it.

#2- Go prepared.
There’s nothing worse than waiting for an hour to get to the front of the line just to find out that you needed to bring your registration card, auto insurance ID cards, etc. Call ahead of time to find out what you need so that you don’t have to make two trips for one occasion.

#1- Schedule Smart!
Timing is everything in life, including at the DMV. If you have flexibility, make an effort to follow these tried and true rules to avoid times when the DMV may be understaffed and overcrowded:

  • Go midweek. Avoid Mondays and Fridays.
  • Go during off peak hours which are typically between 9:30 am and 11 am and 2pm and 3:30 pm. Avoid any time around lunch.
  • Avoid the first and last day of the month and the day before or after a holiday.

Nothing can make a trip to the DMV truly enjoyable, but these tips may just make it tolerable. Good luck!


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