Various Department Names for Drivers' Licensing

by Joshua on September 19, 2013
Tags: DPS, dps, dmv, OMV, omv, mvd, DMV, dot, BMV

Within each state across the U.S a division has been established to handle all of the licensing and vehicle needs for the residents. Each of these divisions is funded by the state government and deals with specific individual needs. That is where the similarities cease however and the uniqueness of each state comes into play. Many people across the United States think of this division of local government as the Department of Motor Vehicles and while this is sometimes true the correct name may differ.

The term Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV is understood by individuals living in many areas as the symbol of drivers licensing and vehicle paperwork. The name or its abbreviations is recognized by many as this state-government agency regardless of the state they reside but in fact it is actually used in only a handful of states. In addition, the functions of the actual DMV agency as well as its responsibilities different greatly from state to state.

It is important for anyone using the DMV services to know the actual state name for the area in which they reside for search reasons or information may be difficult to obtain and locals impossible to find. In addition, it is essential to understand the actual functions the DMV performs within an individual’s state to avoid confusion if ever there is a need for one of the many state regulated services.

What is a Department of Motor Vehicles?

Until recently in history, state governments have been left the rights to establish its own unique manners for licensing and the licensing and registration of motor vehicles. It has been charged the duty of developing a system that works for the states individual situations and people and for funding these establishments. In addition, many laws not regulated by Federal government concerning the actual operation of motorized vehicles and penalties for breaking these rules were also left to the states.

Therefore a person moving from one state to another may find themselves lost when it comes to dealing with DMV services because it could be completely different from what they are accustomed to. Each state treats this department differently in some cases allowing the DMV to handle all aspects of driving within in state lines and others separating these duties among other branch of government. A driver may find they are able to register for a license, take all of the tests and register a vehicle all in the same branch office. In others the process of licensing may begin in the branch office but the responsibility of testing has been placed with the state police division.

The largest reason behind the differing of names is how the state government deals with the motor vehicle division. A state may chose to consider the DMV a separate division within the government or not to uniquely identify it in any way. The name is also a small hint that there may be functions the motor vehicle does or does not provide within that state. For example, the state of Virginia DMV handles all license applications and vehicle registration while the state police are in charge of testing and the Environmental Quality Department conduct the safety inspections. In the state of Michigan the entire license process is handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles including testing and inspections.

It is important for a driver, whether new or licensed to check with the local branch to determine which functions the state motor vehicle division may handle. The general duties a driver may find in the state include:

  • New drivers licenses for teens, adults and new residents to the state
  • Renewal Drivers license applications
  • The three part testing process for licensing; vision screenings, written tests and road tests
  • Plate and tab renewal
  • Vehicle registration
  • Titles and transfers for motor vehicles

How to determine the name of the department within a state

The name in which the motor vehicle department is located under will factor into a search greatly when a driver is in need of directions to a facility or to look up information on services. In many cases, the search engines online will automatically display the correct division by searching the state name followed by Department of Motor Vehicles even though the results will then show the actual division name. If this is unsuccessful, some common names used by states include:

  • Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Motor Vehicle Division (MVD)
  • Department of Transport (DOT)
  • Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV)
  • Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV)

If general search results still do not yield results, the driver may with to include the state name in the abbreviation when searching. So if it the motor vehicle division in Louisiana, the abbreviation would be LOMV which stands for Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.

Once the actual state department has been located, it is important the driver research which of the general functions are handled by this division and which are designated to outside government agencies to avoid confusion. Commonly states combine the documentation portion of licensing with vehicle registration and leave testing up the state police divisions but it is important to double check. It is also wise to write the location of each division as well as look up the order in which the steps of a process must be completed. The driver may find they are beginning the license process at the motor vehicle branch and completed the testing at the state police building.

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