Friday, August 15, 2014

Driver's testing in Germany for Americans with the military...

Yesterday, Bill and I took our driver's license exam.  We took them seven years ago when we were here last time and they were good for five years.  Had we only moved back here in 2012 instead of 2014, we could have just gotten a renewal.  But since the licenses expired, we had to retake the driver's ed course and the accompanying exam.

Since our last time in Germany, some kind folks in Kaiserslautern came up with a practice exam that you can access online.  I did that a couple of times before we went to the class, which lasted about four hours.  Even with the practice and studying, driving in Germany can be tricky for the uninitiated, even though they drive on the same side of the road we do.  There are a lot of signs, each of which have different meanings according to their shapes and colors.  There are a lot of roundabouts and unmarked four way intersections and you have to know what to do when you get to them.

Germany is very big on fines.  If you have an accident, you will probably end up being fined.  And after an accident, you can't drink alcohol for six hours because the German police may do a blood test after the fact.  I read on Facebook about one lady getting reported for driving too fast in her neighborhood and the cops showing up at her house to Breathalyze her.  Turned out she hadn't had a drink that night, but if she had opened some wine at home, she could have gotten into some serious trouble.  Germans don't mess around with drunk driving and can take your blood by force if you don't consent to testing.

Yesterday's class started out kind of boring.  We watched two military issue films, one of which I had watched on my own online.  Then the teacher, a kindly German man who brought his dog with him, taught a lesson.  He was very witty and seemed very intent on making sure we knew what the rules were, even if the Americans who made up the test and the driving manuals got them slightly wrong.  Of course, it was a long time to be in a class and by the time it was over, my brain was kind of fried.  Fortunately, Bill and I both passed.  In fact, we each got the same number of questions wrong.  At least one guy failed the test and has to retake it.  He can do that today, but if he doesn't pass today, he has to wait two weeks.  And if he fails it a third time, he has to wait two months and go through the class again.

I noticed this time, they didn't do the eye test.  I guess they figured it was pointless, since when the mass test people, they can just memorize what the eye test on the top line says.

Anyway, with any luck our cars will get here soon so we can break in our new licenses.  For now, we have little slips of paper, but in a couple of weeks, the plastic cards will get here.  I still have mine from the last time we were here.  I try to let Bill do most of the driving because it's a pain in the ass.  But since both cars are coming, I figured it would be a good thing to have a license.


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