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Don’t be like me: Renew your license in the States

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — I noticed in November that my Hawaii state driver’s license was going to expire soon, but being stationed overseas for the first time, I had no idea how to renew it.

Immediately I jumped onto the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles website, hoping to find an easy, online method for renewal. No such luck.

Following the website’s directions, I wrote a letter to the DMV explaining my situation and included my contact information and the other personal data the department required.

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I then mailed it off, expecting to receive a packet in the next couple of weeks with instructions on renewing my license.

More than five weeks later and only days from my driver’s license expiration date, my packet arrived. The good news was the 90-day grace period for renewing my license. The bad news was that there were a lot more tasks to complete than I was expecting.

First of all, there were two medical forms that needed to be signed by my doctor stating I was healthy and had adequate vision for driving. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Since my last physical was more than six months prior, I was required to undergo a new physical and eye exam. There were no immediate appointments available, and I had to wait a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I had to go to the base legal office to have a notary public notarize another form verifying I was stationed overseas. That was a fairly simple task.

By the end of January, I had all my forms filled out, notarized and ready to go. I wrote a check for the renewal fee and mailed the package to the DMV, satisfied that the long ordeal was coming to an end. In mid-February, I received an envelope from the DMV. It did not contain my new driver’s license but rather a note stating the DMV doesn’t accept personal checks. How did I miss that very important piece of information?

I mailed in a money order and continued the wait. In the second week of March — with my grace period coming to a close — I received my new Hawaii driver’s license.

Don’t be like me. Make sure you know when your driver’s license expires, and give yourself plenty of time to renew it. Better yet, take care of it when you’re home on leave.


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