About the California Department of Motor Vehicles

Car

In This Section

DMV’s vision is to be a trusted leader in delivering innovative services. This vision is supported by its mission to proudly serve the public by licensing drivers, registering vehicles, securing identities, and regulating the motor vehicle industry.

DMV History

More than any other invention, the automobile has had a significant impact on all aspects of life in California. Initially referred to as a “horseless carriage”, the automobile presented many challenges for the state, and the first 50 years of automobile legislation were focused on creating laws, rules, and guidelines to help ensure that all Californians would be safe on the roads.

Small Business & Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) Program

There are over 2 million small businesses in the state of California, and they employ more than 50% of the current workforce and drive over 90% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What DMV does as a state department affects our local communities, so we want to do what we can to help small businesses and DVBEs grow and thrive.

Rulemaking / Regulatory Actions

The regulatory actions on this page are available for review. A business or person submitting a comment to a proposed regulation or proposed amendment or repeal of a regulation has the right to request a copy of the final statement of reasons.

Strategic Plan 2016-2021

Our strategic plan guides DMV core values, vision and mission, functions, and goals.

DMV Functions

DMV’s two primary functions are to license California’s 26.5 million drivers and register more than 34.7 million vehicles. However, DMV maintains and oversees many other functions, including:

  • Record ownership (certificate of title) of the vehicles DMV registers
  • Maintain driving records (accidents and convictions) of licensed drivers
  • Issue identification cards for individuals
  • Register and record ownership of vessels
  • License and regulate driving and traffic violator schools and their instructors
  • License and regulate vehicle manufacturers, transporters, dealers, distributors, vehicle salespeople, and dismantlers
  • Administer financial responsibility law
  • Investigate consumer complaints
  • Maintain records in accordance with the law
  • Collects over $8 billion in revenue annually