Setting Up To Drive In Texas

According to Texas law I’m supposed to register my car within the first 30 days of my arrival. I didn’t meet that requirement but I did get it registered soon after. First I had to take it to get the required annual inspection to insure it met local safety requirements. In order to do that I had to show that my insurance specifically showed that I was covered in Texas so I had to change my whole policy to meet that rule. Harris County TexasWith the inspection certificate in hand along with proof of Texas insurance I had to go the county tax-assessor collector office. That process took me about an hour and cost over $200 which included the one-time new resident fee of $95. Welcome to Texas! I had to make a check out to the elected official which seemed a bit shady but that is apparently how it’s done. I got my plates right away and they didn’t ask me to surrender the ones I already had. I guess I get to keep them as souvenirs. I also got a sticker that I am required to put on the inside drivers-side windshield of my car. It shows the expiration date.

Next I went out to get my Texas driver’s license. For that I had to go to thTexas Department of Public Safetye Texas Department of Public Safety. This was more like the DMV that I am used to. The lines were long and the clerks were less friendly. Apparently I could have made an appointment online and it would have been faster. I didn’t do that so the process was costly time-wise. First I had to get in line to get the application and list of things required. I have never needed so much identification paperwork in my life but I read up and was prepared. The clerk then asked me for my mobile phone number so their automated service could keep me apprised of the progress of my place in line. It was an estimated two hours later so I could leave and come back. It was more than two hours later actually but thankfully not three. I got back in time but had to wait another 30 minutes or so. I almost lost my place. They apparently called the last four digits of my phone number over the intercom to come to a specific window even though the progress meter on the overhead screens showed I had another 20 minute wait. I got a text that told me to come to a window and immediately got another text that said I lost my place in line. I went to the window anyway and they allowed me to go next.

In order to get my license I had to either surrender my California License or take their local test, pass it, and pay even more. I surrender my license but I miss it already. I’ve had that number for so many years that I can barely imagine memorizing another. While I was there I also registered to vote.

Next on the agenda is to register for the toll roads. There are competing services, one for Houston and another for the state of Texas. Apparently you can use either one anywhere in Texas. I’ve been able to avoid toll roads mostly but that won’t last forever.

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