When motor vehicles were first introduced to the roads, near the end of the 19-th century, a need for establishing a set of rules that regulates their movement and interaction with other participants in traffic had emerged. It was necessary to insure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, since motor vehicles were, and still are, considered dangerous. At first, there were restrictions as to when and how they could be used. For example, there was the requirement to pull over to the side of the road when horse carriages approached vehicles, or the rule to use them only in daylight. As motor vehicles rapidly grew in numbers, with this came a new set of laws that required owners to obtain license plates for their vehicles and a driver’s license for themselves. That was the beginning of the process of registering vehicles and licensing drivers, which occurred in the early 1900’s.
Today, these procedures are handled by the state government agencies, called the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The DMV over time has widened its range of activities and responsibilities, regulating traffic safety, driver training, testing, licensing, and registration. With the emergence of new technologies, some DMV’s have recently started offering online services such as handling traffic citations, business and insurance transactions, driver record points and license status checks, and so on.
Some of the first major changes in the vehicle registration process that happened during the 1950’s and 1960’s was the introduction of smog control devices as a mandatory condition for first-time registrations. In the early 70’s, the DMV began issuing personalized license plates, or vanity plates, which allowed vehicle owners to put their own names or any combination of letters and numbers on their plate.
Over the years, the DMV had to evolve and expand its services due to the evolution of the automotive industry and the invention of new types of cars. This is prevalent in the custom-built car registration information which at the time was difficult to acquire. Nowadays, the DMV offers a fast and complete service in this area. The DMV has come a long way since its beginning, and now is a fine-tuned machine that handles driving issues throughout the U.S.A.