Department of motor vehicles

A department of motor vehicles (DMV) is a government agency that administers motor vehicle registration and driver licensing. In countries with federal states such as in North America, these agencies are generally administered by subnational entities governments, while in unitary states such as many of those in Europe, DMVs are organized nationally by the central government.

The headquarters of the largest DMV, the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento

Depending on the location, the "DMV" can also be known as "division of motor vehicles," "driver and motor vehicle services," "registry of motor vehicles," or "bureau of motor vehicles".

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.[1] In Canada, driver licensing and vehicle registration are handled at the provincial government level.[2]

United States edit

The Uniform Vehicle Code prefers the name "Department of Motor Vehicles".[3] The acronym "DMV" is most commonly used to describe the agency (where it exists); however, diverse titles are used in different jurisdictions.

State/Territory Agency Parent agency and supplementary notes
responsible for driver licensing responsible for vehicle title and registration
Alabama Driver License Division Motor Vehicle Division The Driver License Division is a division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety,[4] whereas the Motor Vehicle Division is a division of the Alabama Department of Revenue.[5]
Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Alaska Department of Administration;[6] 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[7]
Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicle Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.[8] The Arkansas State Police is responsible for all driver testing.[9]
California Department of Motor Vehicles Department of the cabinet-level California State Transportation Agency[10]
Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue[11]
Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles[12]
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Delaware Department of Transportation[13]
District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles[14]
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles[15]
Georgia Department of Driver Services[16] Motor Vehicle Division Archived 2009-07-26 at the Wayback Machine[17] The Motor Vehicle Division is a division of the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Hawaii Driver License Division Motor Vehicle Division both under the Honolulu Department of Customer Services,Driver License Division

Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicle Now Maui County Motor Vehicle -Licensing Drivers License Division Motor Vehicles Division both under the Kauai County Department of Motor Vehicles

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; Hawai'i, Maui, and Kaua'i counties).[18]
Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the Idaho Transportation Department[19]
Illinois Driver Services Department Vehicle Services Department Departments of the Illinois Secretary of State[20]
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles[21]
Iowa Motor Vehicle Division Division of the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division and the Iowa Department of Transportation[22]
Kansas Division of Vehicles Division of the Kansas Department of Revenue[23]
Kentucky Division of Driver Licensing[24] Motor Vehicle Licensing System[25] Divisions of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The state's Circuit Court Clerks offices are responsible for the registration and issuance of drivers licenses while the County Clerks are responsible for vehicle registrations and titles. The Transportation Cabinet is responsible for establishing the policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration. The Kentucky State Police Driver Testing Branch is responsible for driver testing.[26][27]
Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles[28] Division of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles Division of the Maine Secretary of State[29]
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration[30] Division of the Maryland Department of Transportation
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles[31] Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; transferred from the Executive Office of Transportation effective November 1, 2009[citation needed]
Michigan Michigan Secretary of State[32]
Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services[33] Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Mississippi Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Licensing Division Driver licensing is handled by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety,[34] while the Motor Vehicle Licensing Division is a division of the Mississippi Department of Revenue.[35]
Missouri Missouri Department of Revenue
Montana Motor Vehicle Division Division of the Montana Department of Justice
Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles[36]
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.[37]
New York Department of Motor Vehicles
North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Dakota Driver License Division Motor Vehicle Division Divisions of the North Dakota Department of Transportation
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Titles are issued at the county level by the Clerk of Courts.
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Tax Commission Driver licensing is handled by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, while the Oklahoma Tax Commission handles vehicle registrations and titles. Vehicle registration services are semi-privatized in Oklahoma, with businesses providing registration services having been called "tag agencies" until 2023.[38]
Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services[39] 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 Department of Revenue
Tennessee Driver License Services[40] Vehicle Services Division[41] 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 Driver License Division Department of Motor Vehicles 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.[42] The Driver License Division is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Utah Driver License Services[43] Division of Motor Vehicles[44] 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[45]
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 Department of Revenue and Taxation
Northern Mariana Islands Driver's License Section Bureau of Motor Vehicles 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). 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 Division of the United States Virgin Islands Police Department

Organization within state government edit

Former location of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles on Washington Street in Boston's Chinatown
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' (vehicle registration) and Circuit Court clerks' (drivers licensing) 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. Departments that 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 (Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, 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 Maine, 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

PennDOT Driver License Center in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

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.

The federal government registers vehicles which it owns or leases through the General Services Administration (GSA), a federal agency, rather than with any state or territorial DMV. GSA contracts with Federal Prison Industries for the manufacturing of "U.S. Government" plates to be mounted on such vehicles. However, federal employees authorized to drive such vehicles must still be licensed by their home state or territory.

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

Canada edit

Province/Territory Agency names 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 (MTO) Front-line services provided at ServiceOntario (license reissuance and vehicle registration) or DriveTest (driver testing) offices.
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

Mexico edit

Federal entity Agency names Notes
Jalisco Secretaría de Movilidad y Transporte (Secretariat of Mobility and Transportation)
Nuevo León Instituto de Control Vehicular (Vehicle Control Institute)
Mexico City Secretaría de Movilidad de la CDMX (Secretariat of Mobility of Mexico City)
Nayarit Secretaría de Movilidad del estado de Nayarit (Secretariat of Mobility of Nayarit state)

Europe edit

Country Agency names Notes
Netherlands Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer (in Dutch) (vehicle registration and title) and Centraal Bureau voor de afgifte van Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen (in Dutch) (driver licensing)
Germany Straßenverkehrsbehörde / Kraftfahrzeug-Zulassungsbehörde (in German)
France D.R.I.R.E (in French)
Andorra Government of Andorra (in Catalan) plates provided by the Automobile club of Andorra
United Kingdom Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland
Spain Directorate General of Traffic Driver licensing and vehicle registration in Spain
Sweden Transportstyrelsen Driver licensing and vehicle registration in Sweden
Portugal Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT) Driver licensing and vehicle registration in Portugal
Romania Direcția Regim Permise de Conducere și Înmatriculare a Vehiculelor (DRPCIV, Directorate of Driving Licence Regimes and Registration of Vehicles) Driver licensing and vehicle registration in Romania
Latvia Ceļu satiksmes drošības direkcija (CSDD [lv], Road Traffic Safety Directorate) Driver licensing, vehicle registration and inspection in Latvia
Russia Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety

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 DMV agencies 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, 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).[46] 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 (DNR).

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 enforcement of state and federal laws regarding motor vehicles. Many departments have sworn law enforcement officers who enforce DMV regulations that 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 the 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 $1,000 fine and, for first time offenders, a revocation of the inspection permit for 30 days. Inspection stations face permanent permit revocation for subsequent offenses.[47] 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 automatically revokes that person's license for one year. Even if evidence of that person's impairment is found insufficient at trial, the individual loses their driving privileges simply for having refused the sobriety test.[48]

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 identification 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 edit

Europe edit

North America edit

South America edit

Asia edit

Oceania edit

References edit

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External links edit