Although I've lived in San Francisco for almost 4 years, I have yet to get a California driver's license. This is not a problem since I don't own a car. However, it is annoying when the bartender has to take the extra time to locate the DOB on my Kansas license. "It's in the center," I tell them which really isn't of much help when staring at a small piece of plastic.
My birthday is approaching and thus my license is expiring. I considered not renewing or just getting a new Kansas license next time I was home, but I recently started using Zipcar.
Zipcar lets you reserve any of hundreds of cars parked around San Francisco for a few hours or a day for a modest fee. It's cheaper than renting a car, and you can't walk two blocks in the city without seeing a few Zipcars waiting for someone to drive them. It's really easy and all done online or through automated voicemail.
Now, I'm driving more and need to have a valid license, so I decided to head down to the DMV at 1377 Fell Street and get a California license.
First, schedule an appointment at the California DMV website. People looked at me enviously as I cut to the front of the line to collect my initial form. Besides the line cutting, my wait was minimal and my number was called within 10 minutes. (I still recommend bringing something to read or a crossword puzzle.)
Since I didn't drive to the DMV, I don't have any information on parking though there were several open spots on the Monday morning when I was there.
Not only did I need my passport (or birth certificate), but they also wanted to see my Kansas license. (They punched a hole in my license at the end which is highly annoying as it is my only proof of age until I receive my new license.) They also do not take credit cards, only cash, check, or debit cards. My fee was $27. I'd recommend bringing your own writing utensil as many of the chains on the counters no longer connected to pens. (Nothing is fill in the oval so no number 2 pencil is needed.)
The queue for pictures was long-ish but moved quickly as no one requested multiple shots.
The written test was 32 questions, and you can miss up to 6. (I missed 4.) The questions are annoying. Do you stop at a yellow light or wait for the signal change? What? It depends on your relative location to the intersection which is not clarified in the question. Fortunately, you can bone up on which way to turn your wheels when parked uphill by browsing the handbook or taking a sample tests on the website. The sample tests are loaded with questions related to trucks and trailers, but I didn't have any of those on my Class B test.
It takes 4-6 weeks to get the new license. Update: I received my new license in the mail within a week. In the meantime, I have to rely on my defaced Kansas license and a piece of paper.