Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Drivers License Conundrum

In 1998 I arrived in Germany and part of the in-processing for new arrivals was to attain your USAREUR (US Army Europe) drivers license. A USAREUR drivers license is basically a type of civilian drivers license that allows people who work for the military to drive in Germany but is pretty much accepted in most countries in Western Europe (at least in my experience). First you attend a class on driving in Germany and Europe in general and then you take a written test and if you pass you receive your USAREUR license. You cannot register a car or drive on base without it. I had no problem with it, passed the first time although there were some who failed a couple times (When I moved to Italy they replace your USAREUR license with the Italian version of a USAREUR license; you don't have to take a test, you just attend a two hour block of instruction to familiarize yourself with Italian driving rule and then they switch your license).

In 1999, my NH state license expired. Since I was deployed to Kosovo at the time, there wasn't much I could do about it so I figured I'd just renew it next time I went home. The next time I was in NH I called t oask about renewing it and was told that NH has a three year limit on renewing your license after it expires so I would have to take the written and road test all over again, which I did not have time for. My sister works for a local police department back home and I asked her to check and see if I was allowed to drive on my USAREUR license. She told me that as long as I was on leave status, I could drive on my USAREUR license. I actually got pulled over for speeding while I was home and had no problem with the policeman who pulled me over so obviously she was right. I always figured I'd just renew my license whenever I moved back to the US but I had no idea back then that I would end up being overseas so long.

So now I'm moving to South Carolina. I know that I'll have to get my drivers license which means I'll have to study the driving manual and take the written and road tests. This gives me a little bit of worry since the last time I did this was when I was 16 years old for cripes sake but it is not what worries me most. Nay, there is another potential problem that weighs heavy on my mind; getting a rental car. I just got our tickets reservations made and we will arrive in Columbia on the evening of April 21st. Upon arriving, I'll have a gaggle of children and several suitcases along with the baby's carseat and who knows what else. If I am not allowed to rent a car using my USAREUR drivers license, I'm going to be stuck at the airport with a small army of kids and luggage.

Now, I must point out that this could very well be much ado about nothing. On the driving page of the USAREUR website, they have a list of all 50 states and what the rules are for people who are moving back there - under South Carolina, it states that a USAREUR license is valid for 90 days after PCSing. If this is true, I have no problems however I emailed the DMV to confirm and got an email from some low level DMV employee saying that a military license is not valid in SC. Obviously my only recourse is to email the car rental places at the Columbia airport and inquire about whether they will allow me to rent a vehicle with my USAREUR license. One would assume that with South Carolina being a state laden with major military installations, this would be something that they deal with all the time but it's hard to get answers.

So there it is. If the rental car places will allow me to rent a car, problem solved. If not, I am up the proverbial creek. The one thing I remember full well about the US is that you can't do ANYTHING without a car. So this has me pretty stressed. Quite the conundrum...


  1. Rik, get an international license before you leave. They will accept that since that is what "Foreigners" do... Katherine

  2. Can't get those here Katherine. That was one of the first things I thought of.

  3. Tell'em you're here to pick peaches and you don't ablah; they will give you a lic. and hook you up with a 30 yr mortgage and voter's registration all at the same time.

  4. I am sure there is a federal law allows you that 90 day grace period, however, low level DMV employees either don't know about it or don't care to do a bit of research to help out a customer. See if the car rental place will take your USAREUR license as long as you have photo I'd. Ask if passport will be acceptable.