How Do I Get My Driver’s License?
To get around this city, you have to have a car. And that means a trip to the Department of Public Safety. To obtain a Texas driver’s license with current registration and inspection sticker, which is legally required within 30 days of residency, an out-of-state newcomer must (1) be 18 or older, (2) apply for a license at one of the many DPS testing stations, (3) produce a certified copy of his or her birth certificate or a valid out-of-state driver’s license, (4) pass a written examination, (5) pass a driving skills test if the out-of-state license has expired, (6) take a vision test. (7) show proof of liability insurance, and (8) show proof of Social Security.
Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may be licensed only if they have completed a certified driver-education program, are enrolled in school (provide a current Texas Education Agency form), and have attended at least 80 days of the previous school semester. For DPS hours and locations, call 214-861-2000. Parents can teach driver’s ed if they comply with state regulations; call for more information.
Where Do I Get My Vehicle Registered?
Out-of-state vehicles may be registered for Texas license plates at substations of your county tax assessor’s office, which are located throughout North Texas. To get a Texas tag, you must ( 1 ) have your vehicle’s serial number verified as part of a safety inspection at a service station or a car dealership, (2) surrender your out-of-state title, (3) apply for registration within 30 days of moving here, (4) show proof of liability insurance, and (5) pay a S15 new resident’s fee, plus a $ 13 title fee and the cost of your license plates (based on the model year for cars and gross weight for trucks), which must be displayed on the front and rear of your car.
For more information, call 214-653-7621 in Dallas County, 817-884-1100 in Tarrant County, and 972-424-1460 ext. 5014 in Coffin County.
Where Do I Get My Car Inspected?
All vehicles registered in Texas must be inspected for safety every 12 months. The fee for an inspection sticker, which is applied to the lower left-hand comer of the windshield and shows the number of the month and year in which it expires, is $23.50 in Dallas and Tarrant counties and $10.50 in Collin and Denton counties.
To meet federal clean-air requirements, cars 2 to 24 years old in Dallas and Tarrant counties must also undergo an emissions inspection, which accounts for the additional cost. The price may also vary depending on the model and year of the car and on any repairs necessary to bring the vehicle up to safety standards. Inspections can be done at various service stations, dealerships, and garages where the state’s “Vehicle Inspection Station” sign is posted.
For more information, call 214-861-2400.
How Can I Register to Vote?
You must (1) be an American citizen, (2) be 18years of age, (3)haveapemianent residential address within the county where you are registering, and (4) not have been convicted of a felony or found mentally incompetent by a court of law.
If you meet the requirements, you need to fill out a registration form and return it at least 30 days before an election to the Election Department in the Health and Human Services Building, 2377 Stemmons Freeway 8th floor, Dallas 75207. If you are registering in another county, call the Elections Department office in that county for the address.
Voter registration cards can be obtained at branches of the tax office, post office, library, or any federal office. Also, when you get your new driver’s license, they will ask you if you want to register to vote; with your signature, they can take care of it automatically. For more information in Dallas County, call 214-637-7937.
Can Homeowners Claim a Tax Exemption?
You bet. Ever)’ homeowner living within an independent school district in Texas has the right to claim on school taxes an exemption of $15,000 per year of the total assessed value of his or her house. Optional homestead exemptions may be offered by individual city or county governments, too. To qualify, you must have title to the property on Jan. 1 of the tax year and reside in the house. An application claiming the homestead exemption must be filed with your local appraisal district office: Dallas Central Appraisal District, 214-631-0910; Tarrant Appraisal District, 817-284-0024; Central Appraisal District of Collin County, 972-578-5200.
What About Other Taxes?
In most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the sales tax is 8.25 percent. The state does not impose a personal or corporate income tax. Local property taxes are levied by counties, municipalities, independent school districts, and special districts, which may impose ad valorem taxes on real and personal property. Rates are assessed at 100 percent of the market value. Questions about state taxes can be directed to the Texas comptroller’s office at 800-252-5555. For local property tax information, contact the County Tax Assessor’s office listed under the County Government section of your local telephone directory.
How Will I Find My Way Around?
It’s not just a map of Dallas-Fort Worth area streets; it’s a bible for North Texans new and old. MAPSCO is published in book form and updated each November in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Mid-Cities editions. MAP-SCO is sold at its shops, office-supply companies, bookstores, and selected grocery and drugstores. Suggested retail price: $31.95 plus tax. Call 214-521-2131 for more information.
What About Public Transportation?
DART, or Dallas Area Rapid Transit, runs the public transportation in Dallas and many of its suburbs. Buses go to and from downtown (premium service, $2) and around downtown (local service, $1). DART’s new light-rail service currently runs from downtown Dallas to points in South and West Oak Cliff and as far north as Park Lane and Greenville Avenue in North Dallas, For information and schedules, call 214-979-1111.
Bus service in Fort Worth is operated by The T. Bus rides around downtown are free, and the fare on other routes around the city is 80 cents. For information and schedules, call 817-215-8600.
How Do I Recycle?
In Dallas: The city of Dallas publishes a book listing the locations of drop-off centers by ZIP code and acceptable types of materials, It also explains where to take household hazardous waste and where to take grass clippings, which are not collected on regular routes. To get this book, call 214-6704475.
Meanwhile, curbside recycling mandates putting aluminum, steel, and plastic in a city-approved blue bag and putting newspapers in a brown paper bag.
In Fort Worth: Recycling is a curbside service. While there are no compost drop-off sites (mulching and composting are encouraged), city-provided compost is available free to residents. Information: 817-871-5171.
In Arlington: A curbside program is in place; new residents receive details when they sign up for water service. Residents can also use drop-off centers throughout the city. There is a ban on putting grass clippings in the regular garbage, but the city does collect other yard waste, such as bundled tree limbs and leaves. Residents can take hazardous waste to the Environmental Collection Center in Fort Worth. Information: 817-871-5257.
In Plano: The city-which received the 1996 award for best community wide recycling program from the Recycling Coalition of Texas and the $125,000 Keep Texas Beautiful Award-collects a variety of materials curbside, and new residents receive details with their new refuse cans or in their utility bill. Yard clippings are also collected curbside once a week but must be in special bags sold at all fire stations and the city warehouse, 4100 W. Piano Pkwy., where residents can also pick up free compost and mulch. Household hazardous waste is picked up curbside on regular collection days. Information: 972-964-4150.
For all other communities, contact the sanitation department of your city to get details on the local program.
How Do I Get Further Information?
With a subscription to D Magazine, in-depth coverage of the people, events, and news in the Dallas-Fort Worth area comes right to your mailbox monthly. For a subscription, call 1-800-732-9673.
Newcomer packets in Dallas containing general information on such topics as housing and education, including a map of Dallas and surrounding areas, can be obtained by calling 214-746-6704 or by writing the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Attn.: Research and Information, 1201 Elm St., Ste. 2000, Dallas 75270. Packets are $16; checks and credit cards are accepted.
Fort Worth offers newcomers a relocation packet containing a map of Fort Worth and a four-color magazine. Guide to the Fort Worth Area. The publication includes the history of the city as well as information on economy and business, transportation, housing, education, health care, shopping, arts and culture, sports and recreation, amenities, and attractions and facts of interest. Send $5 to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, 777 Taylor St., Ste. 900, Fort Worth 76102-4997. Information : 817-336-2491 ext. 222.
An Arlington newcomers’ packet is free. To get one by mail, call 817-275-2613 or write the Arlington Chamber, P.O. Box 1486, Arlington 76004-1486.
Where Is My Local Post Office?
For ZIP code information and general information on postal services, call 800-275-8777 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Maps denoting ZIP codes are also included in the MAPSCO books.
Information and Referral Service. L 214-374-4357. Sponsored by the United Way, this service specializes in health. counseling, welfare, financial aid, and recreation services.
Also, there’s the Information and Referral Center of Plano. 972-422-1850.
Newcomers’ Club of Greater Dallas. 972-267-5743. Dallas is growing fast, and there’s a club here dedicated just to new arrivals. This social club offers area tours and monthly luncheons for new members. Membership fee is S18 per year; includes a newsletter and yearbook. North Dallas Newcomers’ Club. 972-608-2967. Social club with 320 members, offering some 25 different activities, including luncheons. Regular meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at area country clubs. Membership fee is $25 per year.
Numbers to Know
Emergency: Police, Fire, Ambulance 911
Dallas City Council offices 214-670-4050
Dallas City Manager’s office 214-670-3302
Dallas Mayor’s office 214-670-4054
Fire Communications Center 214-670-5111
Better Business Bureau 214-220-2000
State Highway Department 214-861-2000
Texas Department of Public Safety 214-861-2000
Dallas Housing Department 214-670-5397
Dallas Parks Department 214-670-8748
County Clerk 214-653-7131
Tax Assessor-Collector 214-653-7011
Street and Sanitation Department 311 or 214-670-5111
Datas Water Department 214-651-1441
Water Department-Emergencies 311 or 214470-5111
TXU Electric and Gas 972-791-2888 or 214-741-3750
Time and Temperature 214-844-(any four numbers)
National Weather Service (DFW) 214-787-1111or (national) 214-787-1701
Dallas Chamber of Commerce 214-746-6600
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce 817-336-2491
TXU Electric Emergency 800-233-2133
TXU Gas Emergency 800-817-8090
HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS
Cracking the Code of Dallas’ Roads
A true Dallasite is an individual who knows all the numbers and corresponding names of every freeway, expressway, and farm-to-market (FM) road in the Dallas area. Unfortunately, only three or four of these true Dallasites exist, and you may not meet one anytime soon, so let us help.
I-30…East R.L Thornton Freeway (east of downtown Dallas) Dallas/Tort Worth Turnpike (west of downtown Dallas)
I-35E…Stemmons Freeway [in Dallas) South R.L. Thornton Freeway [south of the Trinity River)
1-45…Julius Schepps Freeway
1-635…LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson) Freeway
U.S. Hwy. 67…J. Elmer Weaver Freeway (in Cedar Hill) Marvin D. Love Freeway (in Dallas)
U.S. Hwy 75…North Central Expressway (north of Main Street) South Central Expressway/ S.M. Wright Freeway [south of Main Street)
U.S. Hwy. 175…CF. Hawn Freeway
Spur 366…Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Loop 12…Buckner Boulevard Ledbetter Drive Northwest Highway Walton Walker Boulevard
State Hwy. 114…John W. Carpenter Freeway
State Hwy. 190…President George Bush Highway President George Bush Tollway