South Carolina State Government - Cabinet Agencies

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles

Mission Statement: The Department of Motor Vehicles administers the state's motor vehicl licensing and titling laws by maintaining strict controls to deliver secure and valid identification, licenses, property records, while accurately accounting for the receipt and timely distribution of all revenue collected in order to best serve our citizens. To accomplish this mission, SCDMV administers motor vehicle laws in an efficient, effective, and professional manner in order to deliver accuracy and security in all transaction documents, and ato provide the highest levels of customer service to the citizens of South Carolina.

 
Kevin A. Shwedo
Executive Director
Year Established: 2003
Phone Number: (803) 896-5000
Current Website: www.scdmvonline.com
Click Here
Number of Employees: 1,220 Full Time + 123 Temporary Positions (Feb. '16) Number of Facilities: HQ + 67 Branch Offices


10311 Wilson Blvd., Building C
Blythewood, SC 29016

The Department of Motor Vehicles Includes:
General Services - assists in change of address, and emergency points of contact.
Driver Services - provides renewal or duplicate licenses, maintains drivers records, collects renewal or re-instatement fees, and can set up payment plans.
Vehicle Services - provides vehicle registration and titles, license plates, and license plate renewals.

SC Code of Law Authority for the Department

SECTION 56-1-5. Department of Motor Vehicles Established; transfer of power from the Department of Public Safety; appointment, powers, and duties of the Executive Director; independent review.

(A) The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles is hereby established as an administrative agency of the state government.

(B) Upon the signature of the Governor, all functions, powers, duties, responsibilities, and authority statutorily exercised by the Motor Vehicle Division and the Motor Carrier Services unit within the Department of Public Safety are transferred to and devolved upon the Department of Motor Vehicles.

(C) The Executive Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The executive director shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

(D) The executive director is the executive and administrative head of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The executive director shall administer the policies defined by the department and the affairs of the department.

(E) The executive director may appoint assistants, deputies, and employees as the executive director considers necessary and proper to administer the affairs of the department and may prescribe their duties, powers, and functions.

(F) The Legislative Audit Council shall conduct an independent review of the Department of Motor Vehicles every three years.

HISTORY: 2003 Act No. 51, Section 3.


Click Here to view the entire Title 56 of the Code of Laws authorizing the Department of Motor Vehicles; too long to include herein.

History of the Department of Motor Vehicles:

Established in 1917 by the South Carolina State Highway Commission, SCDMV was first named the Division of Automobile Licensing and Registration. The division's tasks included the issuance of licenses and the collection of fees.

When the division was initially created, the first item on the agenda was to inform South Carolinians of a new law requiring vehicle owners to obtain a state, not county, license plate for their vehicle. The cost to obtain a license plate was determined by the horsepower of a vehicle, not the weight as it is today. Citizens paid $.25 per horsepower.

The majority of the fees collected (80%) were returned to the counties to offset the cost of building and expanding the highways and bridges. The other 20% was used for the Highway Department’s operating fund.

The license plates issued by the division were a far cry from today’s standard. They were not even a consistent size from year to year until the mid 1930s. The largest license plate was issued in 1926 and measured 5 by 16¾ inches. Since 1956, all license plates have been produced at the standard size: 6 by 12 inches.

During the early production of the license plates, the expiration date was actually imprinted into the plate. It has only been within the past 30 years that expiration stickers have been used on our license plates.

The appearance of the plates has also changed quite a bit over the past 88 years. The plates produced in 1916 and 1917 had the county and town in which the vehicle was registered on the plate. In 1926, the division attempted to create a more decorative plate by including a palmetto tree. In the 1930s, the license plates began to carry slogans such as “The Iodine State” (1932) and “The Iodine Products State” (1933).

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that legislation was passed requiring vehicle drivers to obtain a driver’s license and pass a driving test to drive legally. By this time, the Division of Automobile Licensing and Registration was known as the Motor Vehicle Division of the State Highway Department.

According to the new law, anyone who was at least 12 years old could obtain a license by completing an application and paying a $.50 fee. There was also a family plan that covered a husband, wife, and all children in the household ages 12 to 21 for a discounted rate of $1.00. All fees had to be paid at the Columbia office since, at that time, there were no branch offices.

In 1955, the point system was mandated by state law, and in 1968 legislation was passed requiring color photographs on all driver licenses.

Ironically, state law continued to allow for the issuance of a metal driver’s license to those drivers who had not been suspended or cancelled. These metal licenses resembled a military ‘dog tag’ and included all information on a regular driver’s license except the photograph. A hand-held numbering machine ‘engraved’ the driver’s information into the metal license.

Originally passed as the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Law in 1952, this law required all owners and operators of vehicles who become involved in an accident causing injury, death or property damage, and who were not covered by liability insurance, to post a security sufficient to cover any judgment against that vehicle owner.

The law also required the suspension of license plates and registration cards of all vehicles owned by any person who has had their driver’s license suspended or revoked or for operating a vehicle without a license.

In 1974, the SC Automobile Reparation Reform Act was enacted requiring every motor vehicle that was subject to registration be insured with liability coverage at the time of registration.

The Motor Vehicle Title Act, which began in 1958, provided for a three-year gradual titling of all vehicles. Prior to this act, only those vehicles purchased from dealers or those vehicles brought into the state for registration and licensing were required to be titled. After 1960, the law was finally passed requiring all vehicles to be titles prior to license renewal and registration.

Today’s SCDMV is certainly more technologically advanced than the DMV of 1917 and better equipped than the early years. From providing 68 branch offices across the state to issuing digital driver licenses and conducting business online, the current SCDMV is offering services that our predecessors never even dreamed about using.


In 1993, the South Carolina Tax Commission merged with the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to form the Department of Revenue. However, three years later (1996), the Division of Motor Vehicles was re-assigned to the Department of Public Safety, placing all vehicle functions within one agency.

In 2003, the General Assembly created the Department of Motor Vehicles, taking it from the existing Department of Public Safety, and making it a cabinet-level department within the Executive Branch.

Past Executive Directors of the Department of Motor Vehicles

Executive Director

Year(s)

Kevin A. Shwedo

2011 to Present

Marcia S. Adams

2005 - 2011

Deputy Director Division of Motor Vehicles

Year(s)

David Burgis

2001 - 2001

Glenn Beckham

1997 - 2001

Deputy Director of Motor Vehicle Inspection and Records Division

Year(s)

T.R. Easler

1993 - 1997

Director of Division of Motor Vehicles within the SC Department of Highways & Public Transportation

Year(s)

M.W. Dufford

1989 - 1993

A.W. Utsey, Jr.

1987 - 1989

E.P. Austin, Jr.

? - 1987

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