The History of the California DMV

by | Feb 8, 2013 | Automobile

When you are standing in line to get your CA DMV renewal, you might be looking around you, thinking of the DMV as a recent contrivance, a system designed for the digital age. You will be surprised to learn, then, that the CA DMV is actually quite an old institution and has been in existence in some form or another since 1915. So while you’re waiting in line, you may want to consider its long and venerable history.

California has been issuing driver’s licenses for cars and bicycles since 1901 and in 1905, the first vehicle registration program was put into place. This was run by the California Secretary of State until 1913. In that year, the Department of Engineering took over vehicle registration, and the California State Treasurer maintained the records. Also in this year, driver’s licenses became required.

The Vehicle Act of 1915 created the very first CA DMV, although it was downgraded in 1921 to the Division of Motor Vehicles contained within the Department of Finance. The Vehicle Act of 1923 allowed the Division of Motor Vehicles to appoint inspectors and traffic patrol officers, although this responsibility was transferred to the Department of the California Highway Patrol in 1947. In 1929, the Division was assumed by the Department of Public Works, but in 1931 it once again became its own department, the Department of Motor Vehicles. Up until 1936, cities and counties had charged property tax for all vehicles located within their jurisdiction. In that year, however, the DMV was authorized to charge a Vehicle License Fee.

Today the DMV is under the auspices of the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. It offers registration and CA DMV renewal at its Sacramento headquarters and 168 branches located throughout the state. These offices provide over 9,000 jobs for the state of California. 37% of the jobs are at the headquarters, while 57% of the employees work at the regional branches. It keeps records for over 28,500,000 people and handles the registration and CA DMV renewal for more than 33,500,000 vehicles. These can include not only cars, but boats as well. The CA DMV also standardizes public and private driving schools, cargo fleets, and car dealerships. In fact, all car dealerships in California are responsible for registering the cars they sell.

So while you’re waiting for your CA DMV renewal, look around you. Now that you know the long history of the Department and the hard work that goes into it, it might not seem quite so tedious standing in line for your paperwork.

CarTagz, Inc. is an independent registration and CA DMV renewal service provider that is officially licensed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. They provide a variety of services including vehicle registration and renewal, replacements for lost registration stickers, title transfers, and much more.

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