Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Department of Motor Vehicles

Ryan Avent takes the time to push back on everyone who greets a call for government-run whatever with the Fisher Price My First Political Argument counter: "Really, have you ever been to a DMV?"

I can't speak with any authority on how DC manages their own Department of Motor Vehicles. For all I know they are Sisyphean playgrounds of dysfunction. But in Arlington, we have it pretty good, actually. My own experience is that simple tasks take a very short time, exotic tasks take slightly longer. I plan my trips to coincide with times when I know few people will be there, and this tends to help. Obviously, when I find myself facing the need to go over there during its peak hours, I expect a wait. I'm pretty comfortable saying that most bad experiences out at Four Mile Run occur when poor planning intersects with the sorts of dumbasses who believe the world owes them a remedy for their own stupidity.

In fact, the only thing I'd change about the DMV experience is the fact that the LaRouchetards are always there, hanging around outside the door, no doubt mining a rich vein of fuckwits who blame other people for their own shortcomings. It would be nice to not have to endure their prattle - as they say, "There oughtta be a law." But I'll meet you libertarians halfway and come out against government-run deprogramming centers.


Brendan said...

I'd add that for the past twenty-five years, spanning residence in RI, CA, MA, and NY, almost all of my DMV business has been done through the mail or online. Except for changing states and therefore having to get a new picture taken for the new driver's license and new plates for my car, I can't think of any other time I've had to appear in person.

The few times I've had to show up, I've made an appointment and never had to spend more than a half hour at the office.

Tom said...

I do have one beef with the Four Mile Run location: there isn't enough parking. I know, I know: parking is evil. But for a government office devoted to cars, which administers road tests requiring that some visitors bring their cars (and which is, incidentally, located in the transit-inaccessible middle of nowhere), it seems like adequate parking is not too much to ask. Instead, those with business on the weekend have to spend an hour or more circling the lot, looking vainly for a spot.

The last time I was there I panicked -- I'd been circling the lot for ages, closing time was coming up and there was still no indication that I could get a space. It looked like I'd have to waste yet another weekend day on this project. So I parked in a neighboring business's deserted back alley, and, upon emerging from the DMV, had to spend $50 bribing the towing company driver who already had my car on the back of his truck. It's pretty obvious that the surrounding businesses do a brisk business towing DMV customers -- the speed with which they got that truck there was impressive.

Anyway: service inside the DMV was perfectly fine. But the location is still awful.

Karl said...

Oh My God! After having some free time and being around the Four mile run drive, I decided to go by the DMV and renew my license. I came in, saw a nice spot (with shade being created by nice trees!) and parked there. The spot was conveniently 4-5 meters IN FRONT of the DMV. On my way out, to my surprise, I realized that my car had been towed away. The name of the towing company is Advanced Towing Company, LLC The sign they have posted is VERY DECEIVING! It is not even noticeable!!! What is worse is that THEY KNOW THAT! A few minutes later, I see two other guys come out... their car had also been towed away. They did not see the sign. As we were discussing the situation, another guy was had just parked on the 4-5 spot area... the guy quickly ran inside DMV, so we didn't get a chance to warn him. Not even one minute had passed when OUT OF NOWHERE, this large towing truck came (looking like a transformer by the damn good way it was being driven), quickly made half a turn, backed up, lowered its towing gear, clamped the SUV, and as it was about to continue, the towing truck driver realized the hand brake had been used on the SUV, so it could not be towed so easily. In any case, the clamping process took only 30 seconds!!! The towing guy was extremely efficient... quite a pro at this! After looking at the direction where the truck came from, we realized it the truck was hiding behind a large trash dump and some trees! It was the perfect spot for this guy to hide. As the tow truck driver came out and tried to slim-jim the SUV it was about to tow away, we manage to discuss with him why they do not move the INVISIBLE sign they have! They are sure making lots of money!!

All in all, in a period of 30-45 minutes, the guy must have towed 3-4 vehicles... all because NONE Of us saw the towing sign, which is not noticeable at all! We expect to follow up with either the state of VA or channel 7 so that they can do an investigation on this matter. How come these spots are right in front of DMV's entrance without having a properly visible sign??? And can you only imagine how many vehicles they are towing per day?? These guys are making a killing (in money) right there! We talked to an undercover cop and he said he's always heard others complaining from exactly the same spot... he couldn't do anything about it. They even have 2 dummy cars on the 5 spots! one of which has NO TAGS!!! I took pictures of the area and the tow truck driver trying to slim-him into the SUV. I will post these soon! Anyone else has had this happened? We could complain to the city and/or sue the company... and ultimately, get our money back! This is dirty business my friends!