Melina Gunnett

September 21, 2012

I am not a number. I am a person.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:50 AM

Or I would like to think so, but government agencies have a way of making me wonder.  I as I indicated yesterday, the last couple of days my life have been spent trying to get my driver’s license and car plates transferred to Oregon. I have traveled a lot and lived in several states and I just want to say – Congratulations Oregon! Your motor vehicle processes is the worst I have ever had to deal with.

The first thing I did, before I even left the house, was look at the DMV website.  It didn’t help much. Oh, all the information I needed was there if I had only known which menu to drill down in order to find it. I’m usually fairly good at hunting down the link I need, but this time I failed spectacularly.

Unless you need to register a car or get an Oregon driver’s license, the rest of this post probably won’t be of any use to you.

Getting a driver’s license:

 The first thing you need to know is that a valid driver’s license form another state is NOT a valid form of identification at the Oregon DMV. You need a certified birth certificate, a passport, or a ID issued by homeland security. Oh – tribal ID is also accepted IF you are from one of about a dozen tribes they count.

 Once you have proven who you are, the next step is to prove that you live in Oregon. This isn’t too difficult, they will accept a bill or other piece of mail sent to your Oregon address – as long as it was originally sent there. (Forwarded mail doesn’t count). So, while you are expected to transfer your ID as soon as you move to Oregon, they basically won’t let you until your mail catches up with you.

 Those were the only two things I really needed in order to be eligible to take the written test. Of course being allowed to take the test is another matter.  While the DMV is open until 5pm, they stop offering the test at 4pm, which means you need to be in line to get your number around 2pm.  If your number isn’t called in time, you are out of luck. The first day it took nearly two hours for them to get to my number, the second day only about a hour. I suspect it is just luck of the draw.

Oh – If you don’t already have a license from another state, you will need to take the driving test in addition to the written knowledge test. This means making a reservation, probably a couple of weeks in advance.

Registering my car:

Where to start… The answer would be NOT AT THE DMV. Unless you enjoy spending time waiting in lines at government agencies, if you live in the Portland or Medford areas, you need to start at the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality). You need to have a certificate from them saying your car meets emission standards.

 Even if you don’t live in one of those two areas, the DMV still isn’t where you will want to start.  First you need to go get insurance on the car. In Oregon you are required to have insurance on a vehicle in order to register it. Likewise, you supposed to have a valid registration in order to insure a vehicle. How do you get around this lovely legal conundrum? The answer is, the insurance companies kind of cheat. At least the one I ended up going with did. Even though I had valid plates from another state, they couldn’t use those to insure me in Oregon. They know the government isn’t going to cave in, so they have to. I was able to get insurance on my car using the VIN number as ID.

 (Just to be on the safe side I’m going to go in next week and make sure they have the new plates on file.  I don’t want to risk the insurance company refusing to pay out if I get in an accident just because the information is missing.)

 Once you get past those two things, the rest is actually fairly straight forward. Just bring your title with the DEQ certificate and proof of insurance to the DMV. Oh, you will need proof of your address for this too. So this is one more thing that will have to wait until your mail reaches you.


Now that I’ve written it out, the process doesn’t seem that hard. It just took me most of two days because, every I got to the DMV, they sent me off for something else I needed. Hopefully this will prevent someone else from having to go through the same problems I did.

Oh, one more thing — bring lots of cash.  They don’t take credit or debit cards.


Blog at