California DMV improvement suggestions

I left our first DMV appointment practically empty-handed despite being a 30-year-old college-educated web programmer, and spending probably two hours researching and preparing for our DMV visit.
If I got confused and forgot some necessary documents, I’m sure it’s nearly impossible for most people who don’t know what to do when links don’t take you straight to the right section or have trouble parsing complicated lists of requirements.
Check out Arizona’s MVD site as if you were a new driver or new resident… it’s not perfect, but it seems to do a quite good job hand-holding people through things. They even have a survey at the end of each request for feedback to improve their site. I never had to make two trips to an Arizona MVD, and have done everything 100% online for the last ~7 years there, so it’s pretty decent.
Though, I do greatly appreciate California’s appointment system (which could use clearer outdoor signage at least at Petaluma, by the way… I only saw the Appointment line after standing outside in the rain for fifteen minutes.)

  1. Many links for more info don’t always work, they send you to the top of the page instead of the anchor. Maybe there’s some JS that reloads the page minus the anchor? This is both on Firefox Mac and Chrome Linux.
  2. It’s not clear when “Birth date verification and legal presence” is mentioned in the list that this is something you need to bring documentation for, as opposed to something you can just do in-office. Group requirements under a “things to bring” list to save wasted trips.
  3. In the section of acceptable presence documents it would be helpful to say that driver’s licenses and state ID cards are not sufficient, which is what I assumed the first time I went to the DMV.
  4. The link to True Full Name (#true) doesn’t work, there is no #true anchor on the page.
  5. The fact that smog certifications are necessary for basically all cars including brand-new Priuses is buried in between a Gross Vehicle Weight requirement and a Weight Certificate without a link to the details. Also it says “When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification is not required” — but the word transfer in this case apparently means “sell in-state” not “transfer from out-of-state.” So there’s another wasted trip. Oh and then there’s the “Areas subject to the biennial smog program” which in my county is on a per-zipcode basis. There are so many exceptions you should almost have a wizard for “what do I need to bring for my car.”
  6. The knowledge test page does not mention how many questions you can miss while still passing.
  7. Will I still be issued a driving permit even if I already had a license from another state? The text is unclear.
  8. The text about taking a driving test should all be indented under the “another country” paragraph so it’s obvious that most people won’t need to take a driving test.
  9. The headings aren’t obvious, I keep reading after the “How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18” section and start reading the Interpreter and CDL sections before I realize that they don’t apply to me. Bolding or making the top-level heading text the largest (or maybe having little icons to the left to indicate that each is its own major section) would help people navigate these super-long pages. Even better might be splitting each major section into its own page so that you can be more topical and cover each topic thoroughly instead of lumping things together and cross-linking a bunch of things.

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