What Does the DMV Do?

DMV line

The DMV, an acronym that stands for the Department of Motor Vehicles, is an agency charged with the responsibility of handling many things having to do with vehicles. This includes vehicle registration, safety and emissions inspections, issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards, keeping driving records, title transfers, bills of sale, selling personalized license plates and more.

Different states have different names for this official agency. In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is part of the Department of Transportation. Louisiana has the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV).  In Kentucky this government office is called the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The Motor Vehicle Division is part of the Department of the Georgia Department of Revenue. The state of Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has a listing of links to all 50 state DMV offices. Note that in some states, vehicle registration and driver licensing are handled at separate agencies.

Although many consumers have experienced long waits in line at their DMV when trying to renew driver’s licenses, registering vehicles or getting a title transferred, in recent years the state DMVs have made efforts to streamline their processing – including offering some of their services online. Language on the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet website perhaps says it best: “We continue to look for ways to provide innovative solutions to make your involvement with state government more friendly and easily accessible.”

Need to renew your vehicle registration? You may be able to do this online quickly and painlessly (unless, of course, your vehicle needs an annual smog test or a vehicle inspection). Want to renew your driver’s license without physically going to the DMV office? If you are permitted to do so online, your renewal notice that you receive in the mail will indicate this. If you need to take a driving test, you’ll need to do that in-person at the DMV. Keep in mind that you can make appointments, so your time is better spent than standing in line.


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