Getting a driver’s license can be a gruesome process, however, very rewarding. I recently went through the process of getting a driver’s license for the first time and there were a couple of things I wish I knew before starting the process. I hope you’d be able to learn a few things from my experience and be better prepared for the process.
I started the process by first registering at a driving school for lessons. You will need to go to a driving school before you start the process at DVLA, it’s just easier that way. I already knew how to drive and needed just the license so I opted for the ‘licence only’ option. The fee was about 400 GHC however this might be different for other driving schools. The ‘license only’ package came with 2 weeks of classes. I had to attend classes for 2 weeks to go through the DVLA syllabus before applying for a licence. The lessons were honestly nothing I couldn’t learn online, but I paid for it so I attended as much as I could and was frustrated each time because the lights went out.
After 2 weeks of classes, I was set to start the process at DVLA. I reported at theDVLA office in the morning and a representative from the driving school was present to guide me. I went to the bank (at DVLA, really just a room with cashiers) and presented a confirmed document of completing the syllabus at a driving school and paid about 80 GHC (sorry, can’t remember the actual amount). They gave me some forms to fill, 2 books (driving guides), an ‘L’ (learners) plate and a very small booklet to fill with my details. This booklet will later become my learners drivers licence. I filled all the forms and attached about 3 passport pictures where inscribed.
The next stage was to go to a room where my data and payment were verified. From there I moved on to eye checkup. I joined a queued on the far left, still at Block E. The queue here is usually long, and this is because it’s the first stage and people are generally anxious, and confused.
I stayed in the queue for about 45 minutes and made it to the eye testing room. I was asked to read some alphabets and letters shown through a machine and they took my thumbprints as well. A lady in the testing room was very strict about any kind of protocol and people jumping the queue and turned everyone away. I was quietly proud of her. I passed the eye test and was directed to another room. They verified everything again, including the test and gave me a date (3 months in the future) to report for theory testing as well as in traffic and road signs.
I went home excited about initiating the process, and added the test date to my calendar. The entire process took less than 4 hours.
The day for the road signs test came around and I had learnt as much as I could. I went to the testing centre and was signed into a computer. The test took about 30 minutes and when I was through, the results were shown immediately. I passed the test! I took a printed copy and was out of there in less than 45 minutes.
The next step was to do the road signs test. I joined a queue and waited my turn. The tester called me to take a seat and gave me a set of cards to shuffle. After shuffling, he started flipping the cards with different road signs and I had to explain to him what they meant. I passed the test and he signed my documents. He told me to expect a text message for the date and time for my practical driving test. The entire testing process was pleasantly smooth. I was out of there in less than 3 hours.
When I got home, the text for my practice test arrived and I noted it in my calendar.
The judgement day arrived and I got to the testing centre (at trade fair, Accra) very early in the morning. I got there on time, before 6am and the testers didn’t show up till after 7am. Infact, it seemed almost everyone arrived after 7am. I was a bit upset about that, but of course I didn’t expect them to be on time anyways. The tester had a no-nonsense-attitude, yet calm and approachable. I together with the other ‘potential drivers’ gathered around, our identities were confirmed and we were divided into groups. My group was the second to test.
I was initially unsure I’d pass or should go ahead with the test because the only cars available were manual and I couldn’t drive those. I however, didn’t give up and had about an hour to learn how to drive a manual car. I got the hang of it and thought it was better than nothing. I was a bit nervous during my driving test but it went really well and it was all over in 10 minutes. I passed the test!!!!!!!!!
Since I passed the test, the tester made some comments in my documents and asked I go back to DVLA for my provisional licence. For those who didn’t pass the test, they had to go back and schedule another day to take the driving test. I felt a bit of a relief, but I shouldn’t have, considering the storm of frustration that laid ahead.
When I returned to DVLA I presented my documents and joined a queue. The queue moved at a snail’s speed, and after sitting for an hour, I became impatient and tried to find out what was going on. I was told the machine for printing the provisional licence broke and so they are trying to print for everyone with just one machine. Aside that, the machines were very slow and took about 20 minutes to print one license. I went back to sit in the queue and tried to ignore the issue by logging onto Quora. After 3 hours of waiting, it was my turn and I went through the bio metric and picture taking processes. The entire process was actually very smooth and couldn’t be mad because I understood why they were slow.
After about 30 minutes I completed the process and waited outside for my license to be finished. It took a short while and I finally got my provisional licence. The licence had a 6-month validity period and was asked to pick up my official licence in August. I haven’t picked it up yet, and will update this post when I do.
In conclusion, I think the process was really good and I didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary. I did not experience or see any bribery or protocol, maybe it was a good day. There were some workers who wouldn’t agree to protocol and such people change systems. If you do not have your driver’s licence and driving illegally, I will recommend you start the process as soon as possible.
This post is based on my experience at DVLA Accra, your experience might be different.
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