Feb 28, 2010

Renewing My Very Expired Driver's License, Part 2: What Happens if You Fail the Driving Test

So now I have my physical exam and drug test results which, by the way, are valid for a year. I now proceed to the LTO office to renew my 7-year-expired license.

Delinquent driver's license

Now for those who don't know, once your license expires for more than two years, it is considered delinquent, and not only do you need to pay the penalty, you have to retake the written and practical exams as well.

This is why you can no longer apply for renewal at pilot branches, but need to go to the main branch, which is the one in East Ave. (I don't know how this works for people in the provinces.)

A lot of people have told me that one does not really need to take the practical exam, but I saw a line of people waiting to take the test, so I think the LTO may have finally shaped up on enforcing this rule -- much to my detriment.

Because I had never been that great a driver before, and after seven years of never even touching the steering wheel, my driving skills were practically non-existent.

Now before I raise hackles from people wondering why the heck am I planning to drive on the streets if I have no driving skills, let me assure you that I have no plans of doing such a stupid thing. I have three kids, for crying out loud. I can't endanger myself, let alone others, in that way.

The game plan was to get the license, then take the driving lessons. I had, in fact, already paid A1 the 1k downpayment. I'm supposed to pay the rest before my first lesson. But A1 will not let me get behind the wheel without a license or a student permit.

If I had my way, I wouldn't even apply for a license renewal. I wanted to apply for a student permit.

But apparently, LTO has this policy that even if you haven't touched a car for nine years and 364 days, you still can't get a student permit, which costs only P317.63. You have to apply for a delinquent-license renewal, which costs a whopping P642.63, and take your chances on the test.

(I got these numbers from the LTO website.)

Expired before computerization = two week's wait

But I was very concerned. What if I fail the test, which is exactly what should happen if the driving test were truly valid? I asked the lady receiving my documents.

She said, "Naku -- diskarte nyo na po yan (Oh -- you have to be resourceful.)" What the heck did she mean by that?

Then she looked at my papers and input the data into her computer. "Ay!" she said in Filipino, "you have to come back after two weeks. Your license expired before our offices were computerized. We'll have to hunt for your files manually."

So I went home after leaving the lady a photocopy of my expired license and the filled-out application form.

More fixers

Outside, I met more fixers, who asked me if I needed any help. One fixer even called out, "What about a body guard, ma'am. Do you need a body guard? How about a driver?" I laughed to myself. "Cool! I look like I could afford a driver, hahahahaha!"

Still on my way to the gate, I met the fixer who had led me to the drug test clinic and got twenty pesos from me for his "helpfulness." He grinned, "Ma'am! Have you changed your mind yet?" He was asking if I had finally realized that life would be so much easier if I had simply let him "do" my application for me.

I grinned back and went straight out.

"Nobody fails the practical test"

As soon as I got out of the front gate, I saw for the first time the LTO customer service center. I missed this earlier because I had gotten off the jeepney from Philcoa too soon, and had entered from the side gate.

I decided to ask the lady at the counter if it really needs to take two weeks for me to be able to continue my application because my license expired before LTO was computerized. She assured me this was so.

I asked her too if it were not possible for me to forgo renewing my license and just get a student permit instead. I told her I was afraid I cannot pass the driving test anymore. She told me, "Ma'am, that test is sooooo easy. Nobody fails it."

Two weeks from now, we shall see if I am able to accomplish a first in LTO's history: the first to fail the practical driving test.

What happens if you fail the test?

So the answer I got from LTO is that you can't fail the test.

But in preparation for the written exam that I thought I'd have to take that day, I had bought A1 Driving School's P500 handbook (P400 if you also enroll for a course, which I did, so I got the hundred-peso discount).

I hadn't been able to read it thoroughly earlier because I was cramming, but now that I have two weeks to wait, I was able to read it more thoroughly.

In the handbook, I found the country's driving laws, which included the provisions for people who fail the driving tests upon application: You are given a student permit instead, and can reapply for a regular license after one month.

What I need to know now is, if they give me my student's permit because I had failed the test, will I be charged for just the student's permit, or will I charged for the delinquent license renewal application, which was what I had originally applied for?


Part I: The drug test and the medical exam (and the fixer!)
Part III: The written test, the practical test, and the fees

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