The Texas DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) web site mentioned that a license from foreign country is valid here for an year as long as that country gives the same privileges to US citizens. Since India was among that list of countries, I was driving with confidence using my Indian Driving License and keeping a copy of this statement from website. And the good thing here is that cops will never stop us and verify our papers as long as we don’t get into any troubles. However, having a Texas Driving License was important, as I am going to be here for some time.
The first step was to download the 104 pages Texas Drivers Handbook and study it properly to clear the written test. One of my friends here already had an experience of appearing for the test thinking that all you need is common sense to clear an exam. He failed miserably. I started going through the Handbook page by page and was comfortable to appear for the test until I saw some of the sample questions like "What is the maximum number of inches that you may lawfully allow an object to extend beyond the left fender of your car?", "If a child runs into the road 45 to 50 feet ahead of your car, what is the highest speed from which you can stop with good breaks without hitting him?"?", "What’s the maximum fine for driving without license?". It was not about just common sense or understanding the sign boards. I had to learn all these numbers and figures and calculations.
Finally, on 2006 November 29th I went to the DMV office, applied for Driving License and Identity Card (This Photo Card, will be issued immediately, and can be used for identification purposes till I get license.). Cleared the vision test by identifying the traffic signal colors and reading those small letters. The examination was computerized and I passed it with 80% marks.
I was already comfortable in appearing for the driving test, but I had to wait until one my friends was available to come along with me on a working day to DMV office, as they required that another person with valid license should accompany. On 2007 January 5, I went for the driving test and had to wait for more than an hour for my turn. A trooper first verified the car to make sure all indicators and break lights are working properly. Then she accompanied me asking me giving the driving directions. It took around 10 minutes and we went through main roads, and small testing my skills on driving, observing signals and other vehicles, changing lanes, etc. Finally there was parallel parking, and I did it well, though it was my first attempt at it. I passed the test, though I got a bad score in observing.
I got my temporary driving license issued immediately and my Photo Card will come by post within few weeks.