January 8, 2014

Opinion: Oklahoma rejects me and my driving

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


I honestly do not know how anyone can drive legally in this state.

As someone who took care of all of the driving requirements out of state, I find myself being treated as the thorn in the side of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, who so far is doing its best to make it sensationally hard for members of the public to actually be safe. This is, at least, true when it comes to getting a state driver's license.

Granted, I should have taken care of this a while ago. I moved to the state in the spring, thinking I would be welcome with open arms, and I knew that meant I would have to take care of my license that I have had since I was 18; that is, my Texas license.

Ah, Texas; Oklahoma's big rival. No matter how many things this state achieves, it will always be compared to Texas and how they do it. Perhaps this is why the DPS seems to harbor such a grudge against my license.

It all started before the holidays, when I stopped into the local Tag Agency to get mine renewed. I figured since I live in the state, I should go all out and get a license from my new home. Unfortunately, the courteous woman behind the counter told me, I'd have to first go by the local DPS office to be put "in the system." Odd, but fair enough; except, I'd also need to show my passport or birth certificate as well.

Gee, Oklahoma, can't you just trust that this little laminated card I have in front of me with my picture, basic info and legal driving status attached — none of which has changed — is enough? What, is Texas' driving requirements not good enough for you? So picky. Oh, and thanks for taking your "hour" lunch at the same time I am also doing lunch or most likely working. I would hate to cut into your obviously busy schedule for this one small thing.

This meant I would have to find the necessary documents in the far reaches of my family home in Sherman. No bother, a trip home for the holidays will work perfectly. So, back I come, north of the Red River, after the New Year, to solidify my status as one of Oklahoma's own.

Then came the moment of truth. My number was called in the DPS office, and I proudly brought up my birth certificate, pride, and belief that this was the right thing to do. The man behind the counter, bound by the bass-ackwards laws of the state, could only crush all of that.

Turns out that since 2007, a copy — regardless if it is sealed, notarized and, I can't emphasize enough, an exact COPY — of by birth certificate is not enough. No, only the original will do for Oklahoma, with its pompous, self-righteous attitude that seems to treat driving as a Roman emperor deciding whether the prisoners should live or die with a simple thumb up or thumb down. What more would you like, oh dear emperor Oklahoma? My arm? My leg? My first born child? Should you have me perform a song and dance number about the terrific work done by hard working, red-blooded Republicans to turn this state into a white, upper-middle class haven?

Considering I have only one-speeding ticket to my name in eight years of driving, zero car accidents, and rarely ever, and never on purpose, speed, it is astounding how difficult it is for me, a U.S. citizen who has never even come close to significant criminal activity, to get a license in Oklahoma. Am I not the kind of citizen — good hearted, hard-working, community-involved — Oklahoma wants working within its borders and driving on its roads? I'll tell you this much: you're not helping our kind migrate to this state by any stretch of the imagination.