Does DMV Run Background Checks?

Does the “DMV” (Department of Motor Vehicles) run background checks? For felons, the idea of the DMV running a background check on them may make them feel uncomfortable. This article will explore what the DMV can and cannot do, and how the DMV can affect you (especially if you are a felon).

What is the DMV and What Do They Do?

The majority of American motorists know the DMV as the place with long lines, expensive fees, and tedious legalities. So, what does the DMV actually do? In short, The Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for issuing permits, licenses, registrations and more. The DMV does not enforce the rules of the road directly, but they do make sure that all drivers have their permits and licenses up to date and that they are operating the vehicle in a way does not violate the law.

The DMV is not a federal agency; every state has their own Department of Motor Vehicles due to every state having different laws and/or permits. The DMV is nationwide, but it is controlled and managed on the state level. Every DMV is different in one way or another, but they all follow their state’s laws, as well as the laws of the federal government.

The DMV is very important. The DMV makes sure that drivers who are on the road are allowed to be on the road. Many people automatically give the DMV a bad reputation due to their own personal experiences, but the reality is that without the DMV in place, there would be motorists who are not allowed to be driving on the road, causing potential dangers to other drivers.

A large part of the DMV from a commercial view is issuing different CDL licenses. A CDL license (Commercial Driver’s License) is a requirement for any professional driver. It does not matter if you are a long haul semi-truck driver or a short haul driver, you are required to have a CDL, that being said, they may not be the same type of CDL, but nevertheless, it is a requirement.

For felons looking to obtain a CDL, the idea of the DMV being able to run a background check on them may be troublesome, which brings us to the next section.

DMV and Background Checks, What Is Their Connection?

A background check is vital for employers. Background checks are used in determining if an applicant should be hired or not. Prior convictions, credit history, education level, all of it is revealed in a background check. A person’s driving record is also made available to an employer through a background check and is weighted very heavily if the position the applicant applied for requires driving.

In most cases, the DMV has no need to initiate a background check, that will have already been done by the employer. The DMV may choose to verify the information given to them by running a background check, but this can only be done with approval by the person in question.

A common case where the DMV may run a background check on someone is if the individual was hired as a commercial driver and goes to the DMV to receive their CDL. It becomes the DMV’s duty to make sure that the individual meets all of the state requirements before getting their CDL. The requirements vary per state, but most of them dismiss those will multiple DUI’s or a consistent amount of traffic violations. A background check will reveal these things to the DMV.

Background checks verify that an individual is authorized and eligible to obtain the licenses or permits that he or she is requesting.

How Does the DMV Impact Felons?

The Department of Motor Vehicles cannot impact a felon by their own will. The DMV follows prescribed laws set by the state to determine if they are able to issue a felon the license or permit that he or she is requesting. Felons that drive are required to follow the same procedures and rules as every other motorist. They must get their tags renewed and their license updated when it is time. The DMV does not treat felons any other different when it comes to routine tasks.

However, the DMV may impact felons who are looking to secure a driving position. If the felon wants to become a semi-truck driver, the felon is required to receive and work towards a CDL. Many companies will hire prospective drivers before they have their CDL and provide them with the free training necessary to obtain their CDL. After all of the classes and tests are passed, the felon must go to the DMV and request to receive their official CDL license. Many felons worry that once they go to the DMV, that the DMV will run a background check on them and choose not to issue the CDL because of their criminal history and the felony on their record.

For the most part, having a felony on your record will not stop you from obtaining your CDL. Felons are able to have a CDL so long as they meet all of the other necessary requirements. Because it is legal for a felon to have a CDL, even if the DMV chooses to run a background check on someone with a felony, it will not affect the outcome. They will still get their CDL.

This is just one example of how the DMV can affect a felon. Felons can be affected by the DMV in other ways, but for the most part, as long as the felon is following the rules of the road, the DMV has little impact on their life.

Does the DMV Impose any Restrictions on Felons?

The DMV may choose to put restrictions on felons when it comes to certain licenses and permits. For example, some felons may not be able to get a “Real ID”. For those who are not familiar with a “Real ID”, it is at is most basic form an enhanced driver’s license. The enhancement allows those who have a “Real ID” fly domestically and to come countries internationally. It is easy to spot a “Real ID”, simply look for the yellow star in the corner of the driver’s license.

The reason the DMV may choose not to issue an enhanced “Real ID” driver’s license to a felon is if the felon has a prior drug trafficking conviction. Felons with this conviction are unable to obtain a passport due to the risk of having the felon recommit the crime, so, as a precaution, the DMV can choose not to give a felon this type of ID. Felons who have been convicted of multiple counts of DUI may also not receive an enhanced license, or any license for that matter. All of this information comes up on a background check, which is why the DMV chooses to run background checks.

The restrictions put on felons when it comes to driving come through the DMV or through their parole rules. For example, a felon may not be able to get a driver’s license and may have a curfew at 10:00 PM. The DMV will enforce the driver’s license part and the parole officer will enforce the curfew part. If the felon was caught driving at 12:30 AM, the felon would be in violation of multiple laws and would surely be sent back to prison.


Can felons get a “HAZMAT” license?

A hazmat (hazardous materials) license is a license that is required to transport hazardous materials. Felons are not able to hold this license due to their criminal record. This reinforces how the DMV can affect felons, because due to their felony, the DMV is unable to issue them a “HAZMAT” license.

What felonies can disqualify a felon from getting a license?

There are a number of felonies that can make a felon ineligible from getting their driver’s license. Below are just a few of the most common felonies that can disqualify a felon.

  • A third DUI
  • DUI + Manslaughter
  • DUI + Great bodily injury
  • Vehicular Homicide

These are the most common felonies that prevent a felon from receiving their driver’s license once they are released from prison. There are other ways felons can lose their right to a driver’s license that vary per felon.

Can felons work at the DMV?

Every state has different hiring procedures for government jobs. In California for example, it is possible for a felon to work for the state at the Department of Motor Vehicles so long as their felony is expunged from their record. Some state automatically dismiss applicants with a felony on their record, while others only dismiss the applicant if the felony was of violent nature. Check with your state to see the rules on hiring felons.

Thank You for reading! What do you think about the DMV? Do you think the DMV should be a federal agency instead of a state-run program? Let us know your thought below by writing a comment!


Leave a Comment