Mar 11, 2010

Renewing My Very Expired Driver's License, Part 3: There Can Be Miracles -- Road Users Beware!

Congratulate me: I am now a licensed driver. The Red Sea has parted, and I passed the practical driving test.

So now that you know how this story ends, let me tell you how the fateful day began.

The start of a long day

I got to the LTO at nine-thirty-ish. Then I did the following steps which, if you are applying for a new license or renewing a delinquent one (i.e. expired 2-10 years), you will have to do too:

1) Go to the customer service nipa hut near the langka tree, get an application form and a number, and have other documents checked. It is presumed that before you go to the LTO, you already have your drug test and physical exam results with you.

2) Go inside and wait for your number to be called from Window 8, 9, or 10. Be sure to sit in front of these windows, or you might not hear your number get called. The red number that is displayed near Window 4 is for those applying for student permit only.

3) When your number gets called, you submit your papers to the evaluator. Then you are sent to the "Lecture Room," where you can read a reviewer for the written exam and watch a PowerPoint presentation on road signs and defensive driving.

The "reviewer" is really a compilation of the questions in the test's question pool, plus the correct answers.

Picture, signature, and Php168

4) While you are reading the "reviewer," your name is called and you are directed to a window where you get your picture and signature taken digitally. Then you go back to the Lecture Room to finish memorizing the questions and correct answers to the written test.

5) Your name gets called again and you go to a cashier window to pay Php168, for application and testing, I suppose. Then you go back to the Lecture Room to wait some more.

The written exam 

6) After perhaps an hour, you are called to the examination room where you will be asked if you want your test in Filipino or English. A unique questionnaire is generated by the machine along with an answer sheet.

Note: If you can understand Filipino, I would recommend you get the Filipino answer sheet. Nevermind if you are fluent in English. The problem is that the person who wrote the English questions was NOT fluent in English. So even if you have mastered the rules of the road, you will have trouble answering the English test because some of the questions are incomprehensibly worded.

Lucky for me, I had more or less memorized the reviewer in the Lecture Room, so I passed the written exam.

Another note: The written exam is answered with a black pen, so don't forget to bring one. No erasures allowed, so don't bother bringing correction fluid.

7) When you are done answering the test, hand your paper back to the lady who gave it to you earlier. Then you go back outside to wait for your name to be called again.

8) If you pass the written test, your name is called with a group of other people's names, and you are instructed to go to the practical driving test waiting area, right beside the langka tree. If you are called back into the examination room -- better luck next time.

The practical test

9) Beside the langka tree, you are informed that to take the driving test, you should have brought your own vehicle with you, or you need to rent one from LTO. Motorcycle rental is Php150; car (manual only), Php250; truck, Php350. You pay before taking the test.

The officer in charge also reminds you that to pass the test, you need to stay at the right side of the line and do not show reckless behavior while driving.

10) You go to the test area, a four-sided two-lane enclosure with a bridge that goes up about 30 degrees on its fourth side, just before the end of the driving course. The test is so simple, I dare not reveal any more details for fear of further compromising its already questionable validity.

You sit just outside the test area. The waiting area is separated from the test area by chicken wire, so you can see how the other drivers before you are performing.

Then your name is called and you give it your best shot.

11) Once you survive the bridge without cutting any corners and without hitting any sidewalks, you stop the car, pull up the hand brake, and go back to the waiting area. If you fail the test, they tell you immediately. If not, just wait for your name to be called. Then you are sent to the cashier to pay the rest of your fees.

Total fees

12) At the cashier, I had to pay Php743:

Php350 license fee
Php225 penalty for dormant license
Php58 computer fee
Php100 revision of records (I got married, so I applied for a change of name; I needed to show my original marriage contract for this, by the way, and submit a photocopy.)


Add to this the Php168 I had paid earlier before I took the written exam, the Php250 car rental for the practical test, Php300 for drug test and Php100 for physical examination, I spent a total of Php1,561 to renew my very expired driver's license and change the name, address, and civil status on my license.

I dare say that's still cheaper than going to a fixer -- and infinitely more satisfying!

At last, the driver's license in all its laminated glory

13) After paying at the cashier, you simply wait for about an hour for your license card -- yes, the laminated one that used to take 3 months before it can be released.

When I finally got my card, it was around 4 p.m.

Incidentally, some of you may be wondering: What happens to those who come after lunch?

Well, if you're just renewing a non-delinquent license, you'll probably finish the process within the day. But if you are applying for a license for the first time, or are renewing a delinquent license like I was, you would have to come back the next day to finish your application.

And so ends my encounter with the LTO. May it be a long time before I have to go there again!

READ MORE:

Part I: The drug test and the medical exam (and the fixer!)
Part II: What happens if you fail the practical exam

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