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Department of Motor Vehicles records

Identifier: RG117

Scope and Content

Series 1. Account Books, 1912-1972 documents money received by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Included is information on source of revenue including fines, bad check fees, registrations, and operator licenses. Later volumes also include breakdown by branch office.

Series 2. Vehicle Registration Records, 1903-1905 is comprised of a single volume that provides a unique record of the early days of the automobile in Connecticut. Information includes the name of the owner and the type/make of the automobile.

Series 3. Administrative Files, 1944-1968 Files is a small collection of reports, regulations, and internal correspondence relating to the operations of the department.

Series 4. Connecticut Highway Safety Commission, 1936-1941 contains scrapbooks document the activities of the Connecticut Highway Safety Commission of which the Department of Motor Vehicles is a member.


  • 1903-1972

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Historical Note

The Motor Vehicle Department was established by legislative act in 1917 for the purpose of accomplishing three objectives: 1) the protection of life and property by the administration of the motor vehicle laws, 2) the regulation, discipline and education of motor vehicle operators; 3) the obtaining of revenue through licensing to provide funds for the construction and maintenance of state highways.

Robbins B. Stoeckel was named Connecticut's first Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. During its first year of operations the department collected $1,281,719.49 in total receipts, registered 92,605 vehicles, licensed 103,657 drivers, analyzed 1,987 traffic accidents of all kinds, and recorded the traffic deaths of 209 people. Connecticut roads were also being patrolled for the first time by Motor Vehicle Department inspectors.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Connecticut began collecting its first tax on gasoline. The State Police took over driver-license examining (this was returned to Motor Vehicle responsibility in 1931). The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles was also assigned the duty of registering Connecticut-based aircraft. During this time, the first branch offices were established. The department also issued the first so-called permanent registration plates pioneered by Connecticut.

In 1940s and 1950s, Connecticut's Motor Vehicle Department was the first to establish a Point System for the control of careless or dangerous drivers. Under this system, a driver is judged by the number of points he accumulates against his driving record on file in the department. The department's role in stolen vehicle recover was increased with the tracking of engine numbers and the establishment of a stolen car bureau within the department. The Commissioner also established a program to suspend or revoke driving licenses and automobile registrations in cases where vehicles were used for illegal or immoral purposes.

In the 1960s and 1970s the department started to computerize many of its records and making other records available by microfilm. A staggered system of registration renewals was inaugurated, that separated the workload more evenly over the year. Driver histories were transmitted to courts and others more speedily and the department instituted of mandatory inspection of all vehicles 10 years or more when transferred from one owner to another. The department was also reorganized in an effort to increase efficiency and improve the workflow. The 1970s saw other developments including issuing photo licenses and the passage of a legislative act stating that all marker plates must bear the legend the Constitution State.

The 1980s and 1990s saw significant statutory changes that impacted the Department including increases in several fees, as well as empowering the Commissioner to impose civil penalties on dealers and repairers for violation of departmental regulations and statutes. In 1982, the General Statutes authorized the establishment of a vehicle inspection program that required that all motor vehicles registered in the State be inspected for auto emissions. The 1990s also saw to major reorganizations of the department under Commissioner Hadley and Commission Kozlowski, as well as the introduction of Special Interest plates for qualifying organizations.

Today, the Department of Motor Vehicles mission is, "To deliver high quality, innovative services to our customers and to promote highway safety for the public. Our vision is a continuously improving DMV, without walls, without lines and within budget."

Its statutory responsibilities include: 1) to issue credentials for motor vehicles; 2) to impose sanctions on the credential-holders who violate the laws and regulations; 3) to collect revenue for the construction and maintenance of highways; and, 4) to collect and maintain information on revenues, credentials and credential-holders, and provide it to all those with a legitimate need to know. To date there are 2.7 million registered motor vehicles and 2.3 million licensed operators in Connecticut. During the 1998 fiscal year, the DMV collected $333.3 million in revenue. The DMV operates 11 full-service branch offices, three satellite offices, four photo licensing centers, and two photo licensing buses. The DMV has also developed a virtual office on the Internet that offers a variety of services to the public.

Sources: State of Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles, 1917-1967, 50th Anniversary, June 1967 (Hartford: CT); Auditors' Report, Department of Motor Vehicles, 1970-1997 (Hartford: CT); Department of Motor Vehicle Web Page at

See also the Department of Motor Vehicles Agency History.


6.25 cubic feet


The Motor Vehicle Department was established by legislative act in 1917 to protect life and property by the administration of motor vehicle laws, to regulate, discipline, and educate motor vehicle operators, and to provide revenue through licensing for the construction and maintenance of state highways.


Series 1. Account Books, 1912-1972

Accession: 1995-067 (part), 1912-1923, 2 volumes + 1 box

Accession: 1999-137, 1923-1972, 5 volumes

Series 2. Vehicle Registration Records, 1903-1905, Accession: 1996-029, 1 volume

Series 3. Administrative Files, 1944-1968, Accession: 1995-067 (part), 1 box

Series 4. Connecticut Highway Safety Commission, 1936-1941, Accession: 1989-002, 3 volumes


1999, the Government Documents Unit of the Connecticut State Library transferred the Connecticut Highway Safety Commission volumes to the custody of the State Archives. The remaining accessions came directly from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.

RG 117, Department of Motor Vehicles
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Connecticut State Library staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository