Why the (one) NJ MVA are a bunch of idiots

So there we were, Mom and I, at the Motor Vehicle Agency (formerly known as the Department of Motor Vehicles). I had recently revealed to Mom that I had let my driver’s license elapse and that we should get it renewed. (That’s why she was there: someone had to drive me.) The reason I had let it lapse was because last time I was in the MVA, which was still the DMV at the time, I think, I had tried to get it renewed and they had informed me of their oh-so-helpful Six Points of ID Verification system.


In a nutshell, they want you to provide one major form of ID, one minor form of ID, and proof that you’re living where you claim to live. A major form of ID is a birth certificate, passport or an expired digital NJ driver’s license. A minor form of ID is college ID, social security card or an expired Non-digital NJ driver’s license. For proof of where you live, you just need an envelope with your address on it from the bank on it or something. I didn’t have all that at the time, so I came back a little later with what I thought qualified as “Six Points of ID”. No problem, right?

So here’s what happened: My current last name is not the name I was born with. So what we tried to do is renew my license using my birth certificate (which we used to get the original license in the first place), my old social security card (I don’t think we got a new copy when the names changed), a copy of the name change documents and my old New Jersey driver’s license with my new name on it.

Bear in mind: My passport is missing, presumed somewhere in the house, and the last driver’s license I had was not a digital license because they didn’t have those when I got it. The original copy of the name change documents is missing, possibly taken by my sister when she left. Getting a new original copy of the name change documents is a huge pain, and photocopies weren’t an issue when I got my license last time. I could get a new passport and have my birth certificate changed, but both of those would cost some money and a lot of time.

Well guess what? A photocopy of my name change documents isn’t good enough. They just don’t accept photocopies, period. Mom was annoyed at this and I won’t bore you with all the details of what followed here, but what happened shortly thereafter was that the girl said that they could give me a license in my old name. Because, you see, we had all we needed to get a license in my old name right there (except an envelope addressed to my old name, but apparently that wasn’t a problem). After a bit more arguing, we finally gave in and decided to get a license in my old name now and that we’d just change it to my new name at a later time. Because this is what she said we should do.

So then the bim- uh, girl goes and talks to her supervisor and helpfully informs us that that isn’t possible because my new name is on my old license. So they can’t give me a license in my old name because it’s obvious that my name has changed but they can’t give me a license in my new name because we can’t prove that my name has changed.

Incidentally, the only visible security guard was sitting right behind the receptionist. Now we all know why.

There are several interesting loopholes that could help: Once/if I do get my digital license, that will count as a major form of ID and I won’t need my birth certificate anymore. If I had an expired government driver’s license, digital or not, because I was a government employee, that would have counted as a major form of ID. So the only way for me to get a driver’s license right now is to become a social servant or join the military.

So I’d just like to thank the MVC for keeping drivers’ licenses out of the hands of potential terrorists such as yours truly. On the other hand, if Osama Bin Laden had a birth certificate, social security card, and envelope all with my old name on them, and he didn’t admit that his current name isn’t my old name, I’m confident that he’d have no trouble at all.

UPDATE: A little while later we went to a different branch and they were a lot more helpful. The lady explained why the points didn’t add up (and importantly: she seemed sympathetic to our situation) and had several helpful suggestions on what we could do. Also, the security guys weren’t hanging around the receptionist because the receptionist didn’t need them to. A much better experience, free of sarcasm or any unpleasantness. I still don’t have my license quite yet, but they still managed to serve me in a way that wasn’t agravating at all.

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