Department of Motor Vehicles

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In the United States a department of motor vehicles (DMV) is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. Similar departments exist in Canada. The name "DMV" is not used in every state or province, nor are the traditional DMV functions handled by a single agency in every state, but the generic term is universally understood, particularly in the context of driver's license issuance and renewal.

Terminology and organization[edit]

Driver licensing and vehicle registration in the United States are handled by the state government in all states but Hawaii, where local governments perform DMV functions. In Canada, driver licensing and vehicle registration are handled at the provincial government level.

United States[edit]

The Uniform Vehicle Code prefers the name "Department of Motor Vehicles".[1] The acronym "DMV" is most commonly used to describe the agency (where it exists); however, diverse titles are used in different jurisdictions. Unless otherwise indicated below, one agency or division regulates driver licensing, vehicle registration, and vehicle titles.

State/Territory Agency responsible for driver licensing and vehicle title and registration Parent agency
Supplementary notes
Alabama Driver License Division (driver licensing) and Motor Vehicle Division (vehicle registration and title) The Driver License Division is a division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, whereas the Motor Vehicle Division is a division of the Alabama Department of Revenue.
Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Alaska Department of Administration; previously under the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Alaska Department of Revenue
Arizona Motor Vehicle Division Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation
Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicles Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The Arkansas State Police is responsible for all driver testing.[2]
California Department of Motor Vehicles Department of the cabinet-level California State Transportation Agency
Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue
Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles
District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Delaware Department of Transportation
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [3]
Georgia Department of Driver Services (driver licensing)[4] and Motor Vehicle Division (vehicle registration and title) [5] The Georgia Department of Driver Services handles driver licensing, while the Motor Vehicle Division is a division of the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Hawaii No state-wide DMV exists. See notes. Hawaii is the only U.S. state where no part of the state government performs DMV functions; it has completely delegated vehicle registration and driver licensing to local governments, i.e. the City and County of Honolulu and Maui and Kaua'i counties.
Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Idaho Transportation Department
Illinois Vehicle Services Department (vehicle registration and title) and Driver Services Department (driver licensing) Departments of the Illinois Secretary of State
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Iowa Office of Driver Services Division of the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division and the Iowa Department of Transportation
Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Kansas Department of Revenue
Kentucky Division of Driver Licensing (driver's licenses)[6] and Motor Vehicle Licensing System (vehicle registration and title)[7] Divisions of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The state's Circuit Court Clerks county offices are responsible for the registration and issuance of drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, and titles, while the Transportation Cabinet is responsible for establishing the policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration. The Kentucky State Police is responsible for driver testing.[8]
Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles Division of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles Division of the Maine Secretary of State
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Division of the Maryland Department of Transportation
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; transferred from the Executive Office of Transportation effective Nov 1, 2009
Michigan Michigan Secretary of State
Minnesota Division of Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Mississippi Department of Public Safety (driver licensing) and Motor Vehicle Licensing Division (vehicle registration and title) Driver licensing is handled by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, while the Motor Vehicle Licensing Division is a division of the Mississippi Department of Revenue.
Missouri Missouri Department of Revenue Division of Missouri Department of Revenue.
Montana Motor Vehicle Division Division of the Montana Department of Justice
Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles
Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles Formerly the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety
New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the New Hampshire Department of Safety
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission New Jersey has differing titles for the high office holders in this part of the state government: the head of the New Jersey Department of Transportation is referred to as the "Commissioner," while the head of the MVC is referred to as the "Chief Administrator."
New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division Division of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.[9]
New York Department of Motor Vehicles
North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Dakota Motor Vehicle Division (vehicle registration and title) and Driver License Division (driver licensing) Divisions of the North Dakota Department of Transportation
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles [10] Division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (driver licensing) and Tax Commission (vehicle registration and title) Driver licensing is handled by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, while the Oklahoma Tax Commission handles vehicle registrations and titles.
Oregon Division of Motor Vehicles [11] Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation
Pennsylvania Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)
Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Rhode Island Department of Revenue
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
South Dakota Department of Public Safety
Tennessee Vehicle Services Division (vehicle registration and title)[12] and Driver License Services (driver licensing)[13] The Vehicle Services Division is a division of the Tennessee Department of Revenue; the Driver License Services division is a division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The state's county clerks are responsible for the registration and issuance of drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, and titles, while the Department of Revenue and Department of Safety are responsible for establishing the policies and designs for vehicle registration and licenses, respectively.
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (vehicle registration and title) and Driver License Division (driver licensing) Vehicle titles and registration were formerly provided by the Texas Department of Transportation, however these services were transferred to the new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), effective November 1, 2009.[14] The Driver License Division is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Utah Driver License Services (driver licensing)[15] and Division of Motor Vehicles (vehicle registration and title)[16] The Driver License Services division is a division of the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Division of Motor Vehicles is a division of the Utah State Tax Commission
Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Subunit of the Vermont Agency of Transportation
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Washington Department of Licensing Also handles Boat, Business, and Professional licenses [17]
West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the West Virginia Department of Transportation
Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Wyoming Driver Services Program Division of the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDot)
American Samoa Department of Public Safety
Guam Motor Vehicle Division (driver licensing) and Department of Revenue and Taxation (vehicle registration and title) Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation
Northern Mariana Islands Driver's License Section (driver licensing) and Bureau of Motor Vehicles (vehicle registration and title) The Driver's License Section division is a division of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which is a division of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety and vehicle registration and title is handled by the Department of Public Safety.
Puerto Rico Driver Services Directorate The Driver Services Directorate is part of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas in Spanish). Prior to 1975, it was known as the "Motor Vehicles Area" of the Department (Area de Vehículos de Motor in Spanish).
United States Virgin Islands Motor Vehicle Bureau The Motor Vehicle Bureau is a division of the United States Virgin Islands Police Department

Canada[edit]

Province/Territory Agency Name(s) Notes
Alberta Service Alberta
British Columbia Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
Manitoba Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation
New Brunswick Department of Public Safety's Motor Vehicle Branch
Newfoundland Motor Registration Division
Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles
Ontario Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Québec Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (English: Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation) Also performs inspections and seizures of maritime vehicles throughout the province on waterways such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Ottawa River.
Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island Department of Transportation and Public Works' Highway Safety Division
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Government Insurance
Northwest Territories Northwest Territories Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division
Nunavut Division of Motor Vehicles
Yukon Yukon Territory Community and Transportation Services' Motor Vehicle Department

Europe[edit]

Country Agency names Notes
Netherlands Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer (Dutch) (vehicle registration and title) and Centraal Bureau voor de afgifte van Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen (Dutch) (driver licensing)
Germany Straßenverkehrsbehörde (German)
France D.I.D.R.E (French)
United Kingdom Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland
Russia Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety

Organization within the government[edit]

The headquarters of the largest DMV of all: the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
A BMV license branch in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The location of a department or division of motor vehicles within the structure of a state's government tends to vary widely.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state where no part of the state government performs DMV functions; it has completely delegated vehicle registration and driver licensing to county governments.

In Kentucky, the Transportation Cabinet sets the policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration; but the actual registration and licensing are handled by county clerks' offices. Likewise, in Tennessee, the Department of Revenue and the Driver License Services Division of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security establishes policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration, but the actual registration and licensing are handled by county clerks.

In the District of Columbia, which is not part of any state, the DMV (formerly the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Services) is part of the city government.

In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles handles both driver licensing and vehicle registration, while the Virginia State Police and the Department of Environmental Quality administer safety inspection and emission inspection, respectively. The program is simply administered by the state; actual inspections are performed by specific authorized employees of privately owned gas stations and garages licensed by the state.

In some states, the DMV is not a separate cabinet-level department, but instead is a division or bureau within a larger department. Examples of departments which perform DMV functions include the Department of Justice (Montana), the Department of Public Safety (Texas, Ohio), the Department of Revenue (Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado), and the Department of Transportation (Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin). In New Hampshire and Tennessee, the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Driver License Services Division, respectively, is a division of each state's Department of Safety (in Tennessee, Department of Safety and Homeland Security). In Vermont, the Department of Motor Vehicles is a subunit of the state Agency of Transportation.

Some states do not separate DMV functions into distinct organizational entities at all, but simply bundle them into responsibilities assigned to an existing government agency. For example, in the state of Washington, the Department of Licensing is responsible for driver's licenses and vehicle and boat registrations in addition to most other business and occupational licensing. In Michigan and Illinois, the Secretary of State's offices perform responsibilities that would be handled by the DMV in other states.

Jurisdiction and exceptions[edit]

Almost all long-term residents ("long term" in this case means over 30 days) of a state who wish to operate motor vehicles must possess a driver's license issued by their state DMV, and their vehicles must show license plates (and current registration tags or stickers) issued by that agency.

Armed Forces active duty service members are an exception to this general rule; by federal law, servicemembers do not change legal residence when relocating to a new duty station unless they take voluntary action to do so. These individuals have the option of retaining the license and vehicle registration of their legal residence or obtaining a new license and registration locally. Some states also let out-of-state college students maintain their existing license and/or registration.

Vehicles owned by the federal government register with the General Services Administration, rather than a state. Drivers of these vehicles must still be licensed with their home state, however.

The Office of Foreign Missions at the U.S. Department of State has a Diplomatic Motor Vehicles program which issues driver's licenses to foreign diplomats and their dependents, registers their vehicles, and issues special diplomatic license plates.

Areas of responsibility[edit]

Driver's licenses and identification[edit]

In countries with no national identification card (like the United States), driver's licenses have often become the de facto identification card for many purposes, and DMVs have effectively become the agency responsible for verifying identity in their respective states, even the identity of non-drivers. The REAL ID Act of 2005 is an attempt to provide a national standard for identification cards in the United States as identification cards are commonly used in everyday life.

Driver certification[edit]

In some states, besides conducting the written and hands-on driving tests that are a prerequisite to earning a driver's license, DMVs also regulate private driving schools and their instructors. All DMVs issue their state's Driver's manual, which all drivers are expected to know and abide by. Knowledge of the driver's manual is tested prior to issuing a permit or license.

Vehicle registration[edit]

DMVs are responsible for providing an identification number for vehicles, either with a permanent vehicle registration plate or temporary tag. See also Vehicle registration plates of the United States. A vehicle registration program tracks detailed vehicle information such as odometer history in order to prevent automobile-related crimes such as odometer fraud.

Many DMVs allow third parties to issue registration materials. These may include companies that specialize in processing registration application paperwork (often called "tag agents") or car dealers. Tag agents are given direct access to DMV systems (as in Louisiana [1]). Dealers often use their state DMV's electronic vehicle registration (EVR) program.

Vehicle ownership[edit]

The certification of ownership of automotive vehicles is handled by each state's DMV normally by issuing a vehicle title. The types of vehicles certified by a DMV varies by state. While almost all DMVs title vehicles that are driven on roadways, the responsibility to title boats, mobile homes, and off-road vehicles can be the responsibility of other agencies such as a Department of Natural Resources.

As the issuer of vehicle titles, DMVs are also usually responsible for recording liens made with an automobile as collateral on a secured loan. Several DMVs provide an Electronic Lien and Title program for lienholders.

Law enforcement[edit]

Duties of the DMV include the enforcement of state and federal laws regarding motor vehicles. Many departments have within their ranks sworn law enforcement officers whose purpose it is to enforce DMV regulations which are codified in state law. In North Carolina, for example, the DMV contains an element known as "License and Theft." Stolen motor vehicles are tracked down by "Inspectors," sworn law enforcement officers of the state employed by DMV, and suspected cases of fraudulent registrations, license plates, and/or theft of those elements, are investigated. Inspectors also investigate independent inspection stations licensed by the DMV. At times, some of these stations violate DMV regulations codified by law. The most common of these violations is passing inspection for a vehicle with windows tinted below the legal limits. The penalty for such a violation is a $1000 fine and, for first time offenders, a revocation of the inspection permit for 30 days. Inspection stations face permanent permit revocation for subsequent offenses.[18] In New York, the Division of Field Investigations (DFI) is the criminal investigations arm of the DMV. It employs investigators to combat auto theft, identity theft, and fraudulent document-related crimes that take place in New York. These investigators are armed New York State peace officers with statewide authority to enforce laws and handle investigations. In Texas, the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA) educates Texans on how to protect themselves from motor vehicle theft and awards financial grants to curtail auto theft and burglary. The division is also involved in a program that helps to prevent stolen motor vehicles from entering Mexico.

Compared to standard law enforcement officers, DMV law enforcement agents operate with greater flexibility when it comes to their specific police powers. If a person under investigation by the DMV refuses to answer questions or meet with DMV law enforcement agents, their registration and tags may be canceled. Although a citizen has a constitutional right not to speak or meet with sworn law enforcement officers while under investigation, no constitutional right protects a person's motor vehicle registration with a state agency. Another example of this flexibility of police powers is found in the policies of many states regarding suspected DUI offenders. If a person is stopped by police under suspicion of driving while impaired, and refuses a breath test to determine blood alcohol content, the DMV will automatically revoke that person's license for one year. Even if evidence of that person's impairment is found to be insufficient at trial, the individual loses their driving privileges simply for having refused the sobriety test.[19][20]

General identification[edit]

In most states, a separate identification card indicating residency is optionally provided in the case that one does not have a driver's license.

Liquor ID[edit]

A liquor ID is also provided in some jurisdictions for residents to affirm their age of majority to sellers of liquor, although a state issued ID that proves the individual is over the legal drinking age often suffices. This is another measure to prevent minors from purchasing alcohol.

Equivalent agencies in other countries[edit]

  • Australia

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, Uniform Vehicle Code and Model Traffic Ordinance § 2-301(a) (Charlottesville (Va.): Michie Company, 1968), 15. Section 2-301(a) is as follows: "A department of the government of this State to be known as the 'department of motor vehicles' is hereby created."
  2. ^ http://www.asp.state.ar.us/divisions/hp/hp_drivers.html
  3. ^ http://www.hsmv.state.fl.us/ Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  4. ^ http://www.dds.ga.gov/ Georgia Department of Driver Services
  5. ^ http://motor.etax.dor.ga.gov/motor/tag_and_title.aspx Georgia Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division
  6. ^ "Driver Licensing". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Motor Vehicle Licensing". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  8. ^ http://transportation.ky.gov/Driver-Licensing/Pages/Driver-License-ID-Card-General-Information.aspx
  9. ^ New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department (2013). "About Us". Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.ohiobmv.com/ Department of Public Safety - Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  11. ^ Oregon DOT DMV
  12. ^ Department of Revenue, Vehicle Services Division
  13. ^ http://www.tn.gov/safety/driverservices.shtml
  14. ^ "New TxDMV to provide same great service for Texas citizens". Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. October 28, 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  15. ^ http://publicsafety.utah.gov/dld/
  16. ^ http://dmv.utah.gov/
  17. ^ Washington State list of licenses
  18. ^ "North Carolina DMV Bureau of License and Theft". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  19. ^ "Refuse Breathalyzer Test After Accident". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  20. ^ "Florida DUI Law Explained". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  21. ^ 운전면허시험관리단 (Korean)

External links[edit]