Vail Daily letter: Bad DMV experience
August 4, 2014
Dear Gov. Hickenlooper,
I am asking for some help in dealing with the DMV-Driver License Control Section for the state of Colorado. It is not just for me, but for everyone who lives in the state of Colorado. This department has crossed a line that goes far beyond anything that is reasonable. No one should ever be treated the way I was. No one!
Let me say, first, that my driver's license was not under suspension nor had I had any tickets. It was simply time to renew my license before my birthday, on Feb. 1. So, on Dec. 11, 2013, I had an appointment with my eye doctor in Erie. It turned out that I needed cataract surgery. The only available dates that the doctor could perform the surgery were Jan. 9 and Jan. 16. (They do one eye one week and the other eye the next week.) Having had the first surgery performed at Avista Hospital, I had a post op appointment on Jan. 10, at which point my vision was already corrected enough to drive and he could sign my form from the State of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles in order to renew my driver's license. That's when my problems began.
Being too late on Friday to go to a place where they issue driver's licenses, most that were convenient having closed, I went, on Jan. 13, to the office in Boulder with all my paperwork in order. Note that I had read that I needed a document showing my legal address. That is the way the form is worded. After calmly awaiting my turn, I walked up to a man and gave him the form signed by my doctor. He yelled in no uncertain terms, "I don't want that! I want your driver's license!" I handed it to him. "Now I want your other form!"
"What other form?" I said.
Again, sternly with a look of anger on his face, he said, "The one with your physical address on it." I explained that I didn't have anything like that because, in Avon, we have no home mail delivery. All utility bills etc. come to our legal address, a post office box in Avon. That's when he pulled out the Patriot Act and slammed it down on the countertop. He started yelling at me and jabbing his index finger at the parts of the act which applied and informed me I couldn't have a driver's license until I provided that. But, I said, I'm a fourth generation Coloradoan.
Well, my husband and I went back to the property we own in Arvada. He finally found a mortgage document with both our names and our physical address. But now we're in Arvada and the closest driver's license office is in Northglenn across I-25 on Washington Street. Another long drive.
Arriving there, we were greeted with the Patriot Act again. Then I waited in line all the while watching all these people taking the eye test. I kept thinking I was lucky I didn't have to do that part. Not because I couldn't pass, mind you, but because no one was wiping off that screen. As any retired teacher knows, this is pink eye season and I didn't want an infection in the eye I'd just had surgery in four days before. In addition, I was scheduled for the other surgery in just three days. I think you can see my point.
When my turn came up, I walked up, handed over my driver's license and my Patriot form — I'm a quick learner — and then handed over my driver's license renewal form signed by my doctor.
"This is not a mail-in facility," he screamed. But this is signed by my doctor and therefore I don't need to take the eye test. He then turned toward his supervisor and screamed, "Do they all have to take the eye test?"
"Yes!" the supervisor screamed back. It was obvious there was no way I could talk to them because they wouldn't listen. Additionally, the rules at this office were obviously different than those published online. I was treated with screaming, mad officials twice in one day and was truly terrorized into total silence. They actually had me standing at attention, shaking! So, having no choice, I gathered up my papers and left twice in one day with no driver's license.
My only choice now was to mail my form in and the time I had was shorter than the 20 days I was informed I had to give them to get all this through the mail. I literally spent the rest of that Monday calling the DMV. Was put on hold for a good 20 minutes each time and no one knew anything except to give me another number to call where I was put on hold again and again for 20 minutes. Finally, by 4 p.m. I got a hold of someone who could give me some sane advice. I then headed over to the closest FedEx and overnighted it to an address in Lakewood. Tom, I need to say, was the only reasonable person I talked to all day, and having me on his screen he knew, as did everyone else in this saga, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my driving record.
In conclusion, I need to say that this culture needs to change. It's truly an issue that needs to be addressed before anyone else has to go through this. And if it all seems like it's just bureaucracy or if it seems amusing, I assure you it's not funny when it happens to you. And in my particular age group, I agree that everyone should have an eye test but shouldn't your doctor's signature after a very thorough eye exam in a doctor's office be preferable to the one at the DMV? And, you should not be greeted with a different set of rules at each driver's license office. This is the state of Colorado. Each office should be the same. And, the rules should be the same whether it's mail-in or not. That way you don't have people in sudden shock about a different set of rules each place they go, and then maybe the people who work in these various offices wouldn't have to be so angry all the time! After all, I had to have surgery just to renew my license. I did receive it in the mail eventually, just two days before my birthday.
Thanks for taking this into consideration and at least making some calls about it. The way in which the Patriot Act is suddenly being used is quite frankly appalling.
Marcia J. Reed