DMV Horror Stories

Scary stories from students struggling with rigid DMV regulations and requirements.

Claire Tolles, Opinion Editor

Every year, a new wave of high school students painstakingly memorizes DMV pamphlets and test books, runs countless practice courses and, finally, waits in line at the Santa Barbara or Goleta DMV to get their driver’s license.
The heart-pounding, palm-sweating tale is as familiar as a well-trodden pair of sneakers. While offering the first

step into adulthood, this classic rite of passage also comes with the grueling tediousness of dealing with DMV regulations. The wrong papers, an expired ID, a missing signature or a failed test could start the catastrophic dominoes falling, ending

the day with the disappointment of scheduling another appointment as soon as possible–five weeks later. Because of this, along with the new wave of teenage drivers, comes the next surge of DMV horror stories.

George Nicks

The first time I took my driving test was at the Santa Barbara DMV. I was incredibly nervous and had spent weeks before practicing and knew the entire route.

During the test I did fine nothing really went wrong but, when it was over I failed not, because of anything normal, like failing to signal or not stopping completely but, because I didn’t do the traffic check correctly (looking out the window) and missed 16 out of 15 possible errors. In the end it would take 6 months before I could take it again just because I didn’t look out the window enough.

Olivia Davenport

When I went to take my driving test in July, it turned out the car I was using to take the test had “expired” registration.

My parents had dealt with renewing it months before, but apparently the payments were never processed (or something, I’m not sure of the details).

So, in other words, I had no car to take my test in. Thankfully, my mom drove over our other car after we waited for hours at the DMV while trying to sort this out, and though I was very grateful that we had another car for me to take my test in, I was even more stressed out because I didn’t have much any experience driving in that particular car. I did pass, though!

Sofia Anderson

The most stressful experience I have had at the DMV was when I took my drivers test. As we were driving to the DMV, on the day before Halloween, I noticed a bunch of kids in costumes walking all over and I started to get even more nervous that they might disrupt my test.

Once I was taking the test I didn’t seem to notice any of them but on the way back to the DMV, there was a huge line of cars that were all stopped and honking.

Thankfully, they were on the opposite side of the road so it wasn’t an issue but it definitely added some stress to my experience.

Claire Tolles

I took the driving test the day after my 16th birthday. I missed 2 out of 15 points, but ultimately failed when I ran a stop sign two turns from the end (oops). When I took it again- -in February–I went to the DMV with my parents and they told us that my appointment was canceled.

Apparently, they had called an hour before to say they didn’t have an evaluator to test me, but since it came from an unknown number, I’d ignored it. After a long conversation, the Santa Barbara DMV said I could head up to Goleta and they would call ahead for us.

We drove up there, and the woman at the Goleta DMV was extremely displeased with the Santa Barbara DMV for assuming we could get a last-minute appointment. She told me to wait in my car, and maybe she’d send an evaluator out. Thirty minutes later, the same man who failed me the first time administered my driving test. This time, I passed.

Jason Douglas

The first time I went to the DMV I did not realize I had to finish an online form.

Then the next time I went after completing the form, we waited in line, and when we finally got to the stand it turned out that they no longer gave out the Permit test at 5:00 and it was 5:01.

My Sister has an even worse story when she went to the DMV it turned out there was another person in the nation with her name that had a warrant out for her arrest. They had to clear that problem up and she did the test the next day.