We moved to the Dominican Republic in March of 2020 during the onset of the pandemic. We had many different plans, but of course due to Covid, those plans were altered.
My wife is from the Dominican Republic, so we decided to purchase a house in the Bavaro area. One problem was that I was not yet a resident….the process has taken 18 months thus far and my driver’s license was only valid for a short while. My wife needed to get her driver’s license. We purchased car insurance and eventually got what is called the Marbete (tabs), although nobody can tell you when and how to do so. You actually have to go to a bank and pay them at a certain time of year….but this information is very difficult to find….and if you are late you are fined. It seems to be designed for that to happen.
Anyway, we decided to get her license quickly. Of course, quickly really doesn’t exist here. Nobody seemed to know how to get the license. Not how or where or when. Very bizarre. Many drivers here simply don’t have legal licenses. I can understand why because it is very difficult to figure out how to do it and also a bit expensive if living on local salaries.
We got a driver’s education book and also an online link to take practice exams. My wife studied each night and we continued to look for where to take the exam. We learned that you first take a written exam on a computer and then have a learner’s permit for 15 days. Then you can take the actual driving test. Still we could not find out how or where.
To sign up for the exam you have to do a criminal background check and then go to a bank to pay a fee for the exam. You then have to bring this evidence to the appointment. Quite the show for a country that has the worst drivers and least application of driving laws that I have seen in my life. Oh…and they are always near the top of the world in fatality rates.
Finally we learned that a city, Higuey, about an hour away would have a mobile testing unit come from the Capitol to administer the exam. We called the office every day and no one would answer, but one day we finally reached someone and they told us the day to come. We woke up early, took my wife to the bus station and she arrived at the test site early in the morning. Hundreds of other people were waiting as well. The mobile unit finally arrived. When my wife was able to speak to someone she was told they did not have enough “formularios” (forms) and she would need to come back at a different time. By the time this was all accomplished, she arrived back home late afternoon on the bus. Tiring day with nothing accomplished.
So, we were a bit discouraged. About a week later, we heard one of the local units would come to Veron, a nearby town and administer the exams. We drove by the office early one morning and dropped her off. Hours went by and she was able to only register for the test which would take place on a Thursday. The next Thursday, we arrived very early in the morning….6 ish…..along with hundreds of other people. There were two computer terminals for all of the test takers and the individuals desiring a license had to sit through hours of talks before any exam taking began. They try to tell everybody what will be on the exam. My wife eventually took the exam and got 20/20, but then had to wait hours to get her learner’s driver’s license. She ended up being the last one in the line and we picked her up after 6 that evening. It was a 12 hour day to get the aprendizaje (learner’s permit).
Then….the work began. She drove every day and became a good driver. We had to figure out how to take the practical exam. We learned that only in La Romana could she do it. A 90 minute drive away. I found this out via Facebook groups and was given a name of somebody on the inside to make an appointment. Eventually, Denny was driven to her first test by her sister and brother in law. She took the exam, drove well and she failed.
We later learned that everybody fails the first time if they don’t bribe the examiner. The problem is, we could not drive her for another exam and we have two three year olds. Then we learned she could take it in Veron close by. We drove there to confirm and they said yes. So we showed up early the next day and I dropped her off. Shortly thereafter I received a call from her and she indicated that they only allowed retakes at the same site of the first failure.
We booked an appointment again in La Romana. We took her to the bus station and away she went. This time she was smart. I told her to give the examiner 500 pesos (9 dollars or so) and tell him thank you for his work. I told her she should show some cleavage also, but my wife is very modest and did not do so.
She is now a legal driver!
Nothing here is simple nor straightforward.