Friday, March 29, 2013

My Driver's Licence Saga

I am finally a licensed driver... again! What a loooong journey this has been. I'll start at the beginning. Growing up I never thought I would be able to drive. I started having seizures as a baby and they plagued me for most of my life. When I was 25 I got my drivers licence. I took a driver's education course and got cleared to get my licence with the condition of getting medical clearance every year. That meant that I had to pay approximately $100 annually to renew my licence. It was expensive, but it was a privilege to be able to, so I didn't worry too much about it at the time. Then insurance. In Alberta you pay to insure the driver not the vehicle (like we do here in Manitoba). As a driver with a medical condition my insurance rates were really expensive. So, in the spring of 2005, I decided to give up my licence. I still needed photo ID, so I traded in the licence card for an ID card. It's illegal to carry both.

(after getting my MB learner's licence)

Fast forward to last March (2012). I have been seizure free since November 2007 (a miracle! - I've experienced pretty much all the old triggers over the years and still no seizures!) and with 2 littles and one more on the way, it became more of an urgency for me to pursue my licence again. It helped that our insurance here is not so costly as to have to sell my organs to cover the cost. Due to the fact that I hadn't held a valid licence for as long as I had, I needed to start from scratch. A bit of a pain, but not the end of the world. I studied for my learner's exam and took the test. I aced that, but walked away without a learner's licence. It turned out that in the country wide computer system that keeps records, there was no record of my ever having a class 5 (full) licence, but there was a record of the medical restriction on my class 7 (learner's) licence. In order to proceed I needed two things: clearance from a neurologist and a confirmation letter from Alberta Motor Vehicles Branch stating that I held a class 5 licence in Canada.

In order to get neurologist clearance, I first need a neurologist in Winnipeg. It took me a month to get into my family doctor who then needed to refer me to a neurologist. I got an appointment 4 months later. The neurologist happily cleared me to drive without conditions. Hooray! Step one, finished.

The confirmation letter I could take care one of two ways. I could have a notary signs off on my ID and a request letter which would then be sent to Alberta and into archives, or I could go to a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in Alberta (in person) and request one. We had a wedding to go to in August, so we chose to wait and do it in person. This ended up being cheaper and faster. We almost forgot to take care of that and ended up stopping in Medicine Hat, AB on the way home. Step two, finished.

I exchanged the letter and the neurologist clearance for my Manitoba Learner's licence. Practice. I hadn't driven in about 8 years and knew I needed to some time behind the wheel. In January of this year, much later than I had anticipated, I booked a road test. The first time I went, our car was rejected as inappropriate due to a burnt out brake light. I was under the impression that that light wouldn't work and had never worked in our car and so began the task of finding a car to borrow. I re-booked the road test with a friend's car. I had several people help me out, from picking up the car and taking me to my road test to looking after our littles. It was tricky lining up all the help I needed at the same time. It actually took 5 re-bookings to make it work.

Road test one: the car I borrowed is an American car and thus the speedometer is in miles not kilometres. I didn't realize until after I had automatically failed my road test for speeding. The examiner seemed sorry to have to fail me and told me that it was obvious that I was a confident and competent driver and that I'd be sure to get it next time. I was embarrassed and frustrated, but "it could be worse, I could NOT be building character." Of course, you have to wait two weeks to try again, not to mention working out the help I needed again.

The second road test, I found myself a nervous wreck. I felt so desperate to pass. I didn't want to put anyone out anymore and I was feeling so tired of being reliant on others. I didn't signal enough. I failed. I was so demoralized and devastated, not to mention humiliated. "How much character does one person need?!" I had passed my road test in Alberta first try with one minor issue, so this felt so awful. Everyone was encouraging and supportive, but it almost made it worse (for awhile).

In the meantime, our car had stopped working. What good was a licence going to be without a car to drive? We had no working vehicle for two months. Then, after several friends stepped into help (another long story that I'll skip for now), our "Lady Blue" started and the brake light got fixed. That meant that I could take my road test in our own car (one I was confident in) and would then have a car  to use when I passed. Phew!

Take Three: I passed! It was the same examiner as the one who failed me for not signalling and he still found things that I did wrong, but I passed!

In order to completely skip the graduated licensing program, I would have had to had my Alberta licence for a minimum of three years. I had it for just over two and a half. That means that I have an intermediate licence until August of this year. That is no big deal as it just restricts me to driving alone from 5:00 am until Midnight and needing a licensed driver with me after midnight. I can't imagine needing to be driving in the middle of the night, so we're good.

I've been able to have an evening out by myself, take my Dolly out on a date (just the two of us) and go to Ladies Morning Out without needing a ride or having to transfer car seats. What a journey. I'm still not sure why it had to be such a fight (it tool a whole year), but in the end, it's done and I have a new found freedom. I am ready to party now!

1 comment:

Elisabeth Rose said...

Wow, you have a lot of patience! I am glad it finally worked out for you!