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What is the DMV?

DMV stands for Department of Motor Vehicles. Many people mistakenly think the DMV is a countrywide or federal agency, but the DMV is not one particular entity or group. The DMV moniker represents state departments that handle issuing drivers licenses, driving exams, vehicle registrations and more.

DMV, BMV and Other Names for State Licensing Departments

The concept of the Department of Motor Vehicles has been around for so long it’s automatically associated with getting a driver’s license no matter where you are in the country. Even in states where the DMV doesn’t exist it’s referred to and widely known.

Each state issues its own driver’s licenses, which is done by a state department or a division within a state department. Although each department and division is different, many of them share one thing in common - their name.

Many states use the same title: The “State” Department of Motor Vehicles. The California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles are two examples.

But you’ll see some variations. For instance, Massachusetts has a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). In Ohio and Indiana, it’s called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). In Florida, it’s the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department. Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, and Arizona all have a Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) instead of a department. In Hawaii, they don’t even have a state department. Each county has its own department for licensing, vehicle titles, and registrations.

The point is, every state has its own terminology, but all the state “DMVs” essentially do the same thing - oversee drivers and vehicles that are legally on the road.

Common Reasons Drivers Make a Trip to the DMV

Long before people get a learner’s permit or driver’s license they hear horror stories about having to go to the DMV. It’s notorious for the wait that takes hours as everyone sits there wondering what’s taking so long.

Why do people put themselves through this torture? Because sometimes you’ve got to make a trip in person to get what you need to drive legally. The top reasons people visit the DMV include:

  • Get your learners permit.
  • Take the behind-the-wheel exam for a drivers license.
  • To renew your license or ID.
  • To replace a lost license or ID.
  • Register a new vehicle.
  • Transfer a vehicle title.

Fortunately, some state DMVs are finally taking steps to make DMV trips less of a hassle. More and more DMVs offer certain services online so no trip to the MDV is needed. Some offices will also allow drivers to schedule their appointment in advance to cut down the wait time. Just be sure you’re there at least a few minutes early because if you are late they’ll quickly move on to the next appointment.

Looking for more resources about your state DMV office? Keep reading to find local DMV hours, driving tips and helpful information that gets you on the road with ease!