Yes, it’s an eyesore. No, it does not fit the modern model that the neighborhood is becoming. But, boy is it convenient. Located right down the street, the Southwest location of the DC DMV, while it still has its faults and will continue to, has truly grown over the last few years.
After accessing the dc.gov website, the process to get your car inspected has become impressively easy. The traditional practice of lining up around the block well before the office opens are in the past. Now, by going to http://dmv.dc.gov/node/137892 you can schedule a 15-minute appointment with just a few clicks of the mouse.
The email confirmation states, “Upon arriving at the inspection station, please proceed to the front of the line and let the inspector know you have an appointment by showing him/her your confirmation sheet.” How great is that?
That is not to say that there are no hiccups along the way. My experience was pretty bad, but not because of the information technology the city has put in place. After buying my hybrid two years ago, I was mistakenly told by the dealership in Maryland that the vehicle needed to be inspected in DC within a month of purchase. When I brought the car in I asked the inspection station team if that was true. They confirmed this fallacy. In fact, brand new hybrids do not need to be inspected for four years–another great DC policy.
Nevertheless, there I was two years after the first mis-inspection. At my appointed time I went back to the inspection station with my appointment confirmation email in hand, ready to quickly get through a tedium I still could not comprehend. I drove to the front of the line and was immediately told that I should not have to have an inspection for another two years–I concurred with slow head nods. They decided to call in the manager to weigh in. He said that since one of my two inspection stickers is about to expire that I have to go through again. I almost thought I was on Candid Camera. Alas, I went through.
Less than three minutes later, the car had gone through the station and I assumed I would soon be on my way. I assumed I would be back at my house within 10 minutes of having left. My new hybrid failed the inspection. Where is Ashton Kutcher because I must be on ‘Punk’d,’ I thought to myself.
The inspector handed me the inspection sheet and sure enough, there it was in black and white; I failed on the monitor check. Within seconds I was on the phone with the dealership and I was not happy. I made a same-day appointment and drove the 34 miles to the dealership for a full diagnostic check, given that the car is still under warranty, while I was about to give them a mouthful. After a two and a half hour check-up, the dealership confirmed that the ‘monitor’ problem did not show up on their end and must have been an error on the part of the inspection station.
What could the discrepancy be? I was lost. I scheduled my next appointment…and passed with flying colors. After some thinking I decided it was one of two bad scenarios: the station monitors are broken or the inspectors at the service station did not realize that hybrids’ engines turn off while they sit idle. But hey, at least the IT is spot on.
By: Shannon Vaughn
Editor-in-Chief, The Southwester