The Department of Motor Vehicles is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. The acronym DMV is not used in every state. Some states use the terms Motor Vehicle Department, Motor Vehicle Commission, Motor Vehicle Services, Driver Services, etc.
Driver licensing and vehicle registration in the United States is handled by the state government in all states but Hawaii. In Hawaii, the individual counties perform DMV functions such as driver licensing and vehicle registration. In Canada, driver licensing and vehicle registration is handled at the provincial government level.
DMV Record Searches
Motor vehicle driving records contain information on an individual’s driving record, which consists of current and resolved court-ordered suspensions, citations, violations and other entries impacting your driving record. If you are a detective conducting a background check, it is important to note that federal and state laws prohibit obtaining an individual’s driving record without their consent.
Employers conducting background checks may request a vehicle driving record with a signed authorization form from the individual.
- To obtain a copy of your entire motor vehicle driving record, contact the respective DMV office of each state you were licensed in
- Each state has slightly different guidelines and requirements for requesting driving records, so call or check the state DMV website first
- The approximate cost for is usually provided on the State DMV website
If you’re looking for free records, you’re out of luck. Every state will charge some fee for processing, copies, and mailing. If you encounter a site or an investigative tool that claims it can provide free record searches, don’t believe it.
List of Services Provided by Motor Vehicle Departments
Following are links to State DMV websites. State DMV sites can be used to find such information as:
- Obtain a copy of your driving record
- Renew your vehicle registration, license plate renewal
- Obtain a vehicle title
- Research a vehicle’s history
- Renew your driver license
- Driver license reinstatement
- Order licenses plates and specialty licenses plates
- Find office locations, check wait times and make appointments
- Pay traffic tickets, court citations and court fees
Many of these services can be completed online and apply to all drivers, including motorcyclists and commercial drivers. In addition to these services, may state websites provide access to state driving laws, motor vehicle laws, organ donor information, and more.
Department of Motor Vehicle Offices by State
- Alabama Department of Revenue – Motor Vehicle Division
- Alaska Department of Administration – Division of Motor Vehicles
- Arizona Department of Transportation – Motor Vehicle Services
- Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration
- California Department of Motor Vehicles
- Colorado Department of Revenue
- State of Connecticut – Department of Motor Vehicles
- State of Delaware – Division of Motor Vehicles
- District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles
- Florida Department of Highway Safety
- Georgia Department of Driver Services
- Hawaii Motor Vehicle Information
- Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles
- Illinois Driver Services
- Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Iowa Department of Transportation
- Kansas Department of Revenue Division of Vehicles
- Kentucky Transportation Office – Motor Vehicle Licensing
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles – Public Safety Services
- Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Maryland Department of Transportation – Motor Vehicle Administration
- Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
- Michigan Department of State -Vehicle Services
- Minnesota Department of Public Safety – Driver and Vehicle Services
- Mississippi Department of Public Safety – Driver Services
- Missouri Department of Revenue – Driver Licensing
- Montana Department of Justice -Motor Vehicle Division
- Nebraska DMV
- Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles
- New Hampshire Department of Safety
- New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
- New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division
- New York Department of Motor Vehicles
- North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles
- North Dakota Department of Transportation
- Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Oklahoma Department of Public Safety
- Oregon DMV
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver and Vehicle Services
- Rhode Island Department of Revenue
- South Carolina Department Public Safety
- South Dakota Department of Public Safety – Driver Licensing
- Tennessee Online Driver Services
- Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
- Utah State Tax Commision
- Vermont Agency of Transportation
- Virginia DMV
- Washington State Department of Licensing
- West Virginia Department of Transportation
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- Wyoming Department of Transportation
Other Helpful Links for Vehicle Background Checks
- American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) – This automobile association develops programs in motor vehicle administration, law enforcement and highway safety
- Drinking and Driving Info – learn about dangers of drinking and driving
- License Plate Search – Learn about the legal issues surrounding searching for license plates.
- Social Security Numbers – If you’re doing a social security number verification, read our overview on SSN Numbers.
- Vehicle Identification Number – Read our helpful overview on VIN numbers
- Used Car Blue Book Values
Beware of sites that offer “free criminal background check” services such as a free driving record and free vehicle identification number checks (free VIN checks).
Duplicate Driver’s License and Replacement ID Request
Replacing a Lost Driver’s License
If you lose or misplace your driver’s license, you may obtain a replacement, also known as a duplicate driver’s license from a driver exam station.
All states in the U.S. use the National Driver Register to determine if a driver’s driving privilege is suspended in any other state prior to a license being issued. If a drivers license is suspended in another state, a duplicate license will not be issued until that suspension is no longer in effect.
For state-specific information on obtaining a duplicate license and submitting a request, go to http://www.dmv.org/.