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Q: What is the DMV?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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"DMV" is an abbreviation for the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is the primary agency in charge of anything related to motor vehicles in the United States. It is also responsible for car emission and safety inspections. In different states, it may be referred to by a variety of names, such as the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Public Safety, or the Driver and Vehicle Services Division. Regardless, it is typically an agency that works under the state government. There are two notable exceptions to this rule: In Hawaii, the county government is responsible for the management of the DMV, and in the District of Columbia, the city government manages it. Another example is the state of Kentucky, in which the Transportation Cabinet is in charge of setting the policies and designs for licenses and vehicle registration, but the actual registration and licensing are carried out by the county clerks' office.

The DMV carries a number of responsibilities in various states, including the issuing of driver licenses and vehicle registrations. It issues registration stickers and license plates for all individuals who reside in that particular state. When a new car is purchased, a temporary tag is issued until the owner can obtain a permanent registration plate for the vehicle. The state's vehicle registration program is responsible for tracking detailed information about each vehicle, including odometer history. This helps to prevent crimes such as odometer fraud. In most states, the DMV allows registration materials to be issued by third parties. This could include tag agent companies that process registration application paperwork. It may also allow dealers to have access to the state's electronic vehicle registration program.

The DMV is also responsible for driver certification. This takes the form of conducting practical and theoretical driving tests. Such tests are a prerequisite to being granted a driver's license. Within this area of responsibility, it also regulates private driving schools, as well as private driving instructors. Each state issues its own driver's manual. All drivers within that state are expected to be familiar with the regulations in the driver's manual and abide by those regulations. Knowledge of the manual is tested before a driver's permit or license is issued.

In addition, the DMV has the responsibility of certifying ownership of vehicles. This is typically handled through the issuance of a vehicle title. In each state, the types of vehicles it may certify can vary. For instance, in some states, the DMV is not responsible for issuing ownership titles for mobile homes, boats, and off-road vehicles. The recording of liens made when a vehicle is used for collateral on a loan is usually another responsibility that it handles. If you purchase or sell a used car, it will also usually handle the transferring of the title.

The duties and responsibilities of the DMV may also include the enforcement of both federal and state laws in regards to motor vehicles. In many states, law enforcement officers work within the DMV for the purpose of enforcing such regulations. This can include tracking of stolen motor vehicles, looking into suspected fraud, and investigating independent vehicle inspection stations.

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