We’ve all been there. The mounting anxiety, the cold sweats, the endless waiting, and always “pleasant” customer service representatives. Over the course of our lives we are subjected to experiencing the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) first hand. In a city like Chicago where many of us don’t own a vehicle, the experience only becomes more disheartening as possessing a license becomes merely a “technicality”.

Over the past month I’ve been transported back to the magical age of 16. Having moved to the Windy City three years ago I took it upon myself to finally switch over to the IL driver’s license. Not expecting a walk in the park I also was blithely unaware of the complex process I would endure. After leaving the DMV offices covered in red tape I will return tomorrow for my third and hopefully last time.

In the hopes of sparing any of our blog readers the same fate I have taken it upon myself to entreat some wisdom I’ve learned along the way. Read carefully and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Do Your Homework

Please do your homework if you’d like to best reduce wait time where possible. Identify the location of the closest or most convenient DMV, and double check its website to see the rules on making appointments.

Depending on the issue, you don’t always have to join the Hunger Games-like lottery you’ll find at the DMV. Many services can be completed online or through the mail. When in doubt call ahead!

Timing is Everything

Don’t chance long lines or efficient customer service. Hold your calls, postpone all meetings, and consider the following advice from the Department of Transportation about when to go: • Try to go mid-week; avoid Monday and Friday • Aim for between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. • Avoid the first and last days of the month. • Avoid any days that come right after holidays.

Thou Shalt Bring All Proper Forms of Identification

Depending on what you have to do at the DMV and which DMV you go to — you’ll be required to bring different materials. Consult your DMV’s website or call to find out what you need in advance. However, most people need to bring items like your license, passport, and other identifying information. I speak from personal experience when I say “TRIPLE CHECK EVERYTHING!” You always need a social security card, and IL doesn’t count a medical claim as proper address identification.

Final Thoughts

The DMV is never an easy journey, so baton down and ride it out. Come prepared with a game plan and may the odds be ever in your favor. Pray for cell phone service as well, nothing says two hour wait quite like having one bar on your phone.

Michael Corrigan Senior Publicist