Think you’ll skim the practice booklet before renewing your driver’s license? Think again.

California law requires a driver over 70 years of age to take a written knowledge test when renewing his or her driver’s license. I’ve been driving in California for over 50 years. How difficult could the written test be? Common sense should prevail, right? Don’t drive at unsafe speeds, don’t drink and drive, don’t run down pedestrians in cross walks.

DMV has a user-friendly web site where you can make your appointment, get the scoop on what the process will be and even take practice tests. I signed up for the required vision test, the new photograph and the knowledge test. I made the appointment at the DMV office in Turlock.

Mind you, DMV is deluged with people needing Real IDs and driver licenses. I imagined it would be a “hurry up and wait” process where time was wasted and half the day was lost.

I did lose half a day, but that wasn’t the fault of DMV. The Turlock office was packed, but operated seamlessly. We were quickly directed to the appropriate windows.

I remember taking the written test many years ago. We were given a long sheet of paper and a pencil. Now it’s done on a computer. You stand at a booth (or sit) before a computer screen. It’s a touch screen; you don’t use the keyboard. Each computer monitor is screened off from other testing booths, like voting booths before we all started voting by mail. So you are pretty much on your own.

My issue was the knowledge test. DMV provides folks with a short booklet on California driving laws. It’s a how-to booklet on how to be a responsible driver, and thereby pass the test to get the license. It’s quite well done and easy to follow.

But I should have paid more attention to the booklet instead of just skimming different sections.

I stood at the computer for my knowledge test. After typing in the identifiers, the donor permission and the voter registration info, the test began.

Practice makes perfect

Yikes! Who has the right of way at a T intersection? What is the speed limit on a two-way street when it is raining and law enforcement flashing lights are approaching? Who goes first when a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, a bicycle rider, a kid on a scooter or powered skateboard and your car all arrive at the same time at the intersection? (not a real question, but the answer is not the car).

Turns out I should have studied the DMV booklet. I failed the first test. And the second. But, like baseball, you get three strikes at the DMV. I got my packet from the clerk and left for a few hours, running home and poring over that booklet.

When I arrived back at the DMV office, the crowd was larger but still consistently moving toward all the assorted windows. There was no griping. I got my spot standing before the computer and began the test.

All is well. I passed.

But one little thing nags at me. I filled out the personal info when I signed in, and when I took the three tests. The computer asked me each time about voter registration, and I may have filled out the registration form all three times.

Please don’t tell Rudy Giuliani! Or the MyPillow guy.

Mike Lynch is a Turlock resident and Modesto political consultant.