It was a humbling experience applying for a Connecticut State driving licence. With more than 30 years of driving behind me, I thought that it would be a breeze to apply and sit for the test and eventually get a licence! I was wrong!
When I left for the US, I forgot to apply for an international driving licence, which was basically a translated version of the local driving licence in Malaysia. I was told that I cannot drive with a local driving licence and checking with the DMV of Connecticut, I found that I had to sit for an eight hour adult driving course which was a course on understanding traffic signs & regulations and the dangers of driving under influence of alcohol. I had to pay USD125 for that course which was conducted over two days in a local driving school.
Having done that, I received a certificate that I submitted to the DMV, paid USD40 that allowed me to sit for a knowledge test at the DMV. It was fully computerised and all I had to do was to answer 20 questions correctly. You are also given 5 extra questions in case you made some mistakes. I had no trouble giving all correct answers to the first 20 questions, and I thought that the road test should be just as easy.
I was mistaken; I took the test in early October in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the tester failed me for several mistakes. I did not look over my shoulders while changing lanes; I chose the wrong lane, I stopped too long at a blinking yellow light and I drove too fast on a 25 mph road! I was speechless when he said that I failed.
I paid another US40 to set another day for the test, fourteen days away. I went home crestfallen that day and was determined to do the better the next time.
The second test was brief but just as traumatic, I failed again. The tester said that I chose the wrong lane again. I said what! And he explained that in Connecticut, it is a moving violation to turn into the center lane at an intersection and that my tires touched the white lines at the stop sign!! Another USD 40 and another appointment for the third test.
I was bitterly disappointed and felt that the testers were too strict and unfair! I was penalised for the slightest mistakes. So on my third try, 29 October 2010, I did not carry my hopes too high, I was prepared to fail again. I went there, submitted the papers, there was a small hiccup but it was rectified after some phone calls to the insurance agency. I waited for the testers to call my name. The first two testers were men whom I had sized up to be 'tough' and this time round as I heard my name being called, "Mr Chee" I saw this African American lady tester walking towards me.
I told her that this was my third try and I was a nervous wreck, but she gave me the most encouraging words, and asked me where I failed and she told me to watch out for them. We drove around the block uneventfully and at the end of the 15 mins when we came back to the DMV, she said I passed! I was ecstatic! I passed!