Trip Down Memory Lane

Over 100 years ago, when automobiles began to far outnumber horse drawn carriages, the Maryland General Assembly recognized the need for a safe transition. Since that time the employees of the Motor Vehicle Administration have touched the lives of every citizen in the State and have witnessed incredible advances in automotive engineering and office technology.

​Enjoy this trip down memory lane!


  • 1904 - first record of automobile registration.  The registration number was painted on the car.   The driver's license was a badge that was worn on the coat while driving.
  • 1910 - The General Assembly enacted a law creating the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.  Mr. John E. George was appointed and the office was located at 508 Union Trust Building in Baltimore.
  • 1917 the US was at war with Germany which meant that a large number of people were stationed at Camp Meade (now Fort George G. Meade), resulting in an increase in traffic and traffic accidents.
  • 1918 - The General Assembly required the issuance of a learners permit prior to taking an examination for a license.  The examinations were only help once every 3 weeks at each of the county seats and daily at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • 1919 - the Department moved to St. Paul Street in Baltimore.

  • 1920 - A bill was adopted by the General Assembly requiring the issuance of a title certification before an automobile could be registered.  The fee was $1.00.
  • 1922 - The General Assembly placed a 1¢ tax on gasoline.
  • 1923 - Reciprocity with Washington D.C. allowed a Maryland driver to enter DC without purchasing a DC registration.
  • 1924 - The gas tax was increased from 1¢ to 2¢, per gallon.
  • 1924 - The number of vehicles registered in MD decreased because of the reciprocity with DC.
  • 1927 - The gas tax increased from 2¢ to 4¢, per gallon.
  • 1928 - The Department moved to 21st Street and Guilford Avenue in Baltimore.

  • 1931 - Driving under the influence became a concern resulting in a mandatory revocation or suspension and creation of a Financial Responsibility Law.
  • 1933 - The Financial Responsibility Law added requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles, Passenger and for hire vehicles.
  • 1934 - The General Assembly passed a law segregating Maryland State Police from the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Until that time the State Police were part of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • 1937 - Excise Tax on vehicles was increased from 1% to 2 %.

  • 1941 - The General Assembly made provision for the County Treasurer of each county to act as agent of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to register motor vehicles.
  • 1941 to 1945 - The Governor requested all Maryland Departments to discontinue Annual Reports for the duration of the war to conserve paper.
  • 1945 - The General Assembly made provisions for the collection of personal property tax on automobile.  The law became effective in 1946.
  • 1947 - The gas tax was increased from 4¢ to 5¢, per gallon.
  • Total number of MVA employees = 283.

  • 1952 - Commissioner of Motor Vehicles appointment the first Personnel Manager.
  • 1953 - Driver license examiners were given uniforms with "...a snappy, light weight Eisenhower type Blouse". 
  • 1953 - Gas tax increased from 5¢ to 6¢, per gallon.
  • 1954 - The "Intra-Fax machine" was installed to transmit via air copies of records direct to the Traffic Court.
  • 1954 - In a report to then Governor Theodore R. McKeldin, Commissioner Thomas Mudd states:  "For the first time, also, we included a woman among the information desk staff, and the results have been most gratifying.  At any rate, it is now a rare thing indeed, to hear anyone who comes to the Department complain of discourteous treatment."

  • 1960 - The General Assembly authorized funds for construction of a new Headquarters Building for the Department of Motor Vehicles, in the amount of $4,450,000.00. 
  • 1963 - General Assembly passed a bill allowing Montgomery County to regulate the speed of vehicles in the County.
  • Owen R. E. McGeeney, Former comptroller wrote:  "When I was employed the latter part of December 1917 our personnel consisted of only 19.  Motor Vehicle Registrations were 69,114 and our Gross Receipts amounted to $773,091.10.   I have been informed the personnel consists of 844 and the Gross Receipts up to March 1, 1964, the day of my retirement, were $17,367,771.12. "
  • 1964 - Gas tax increased from 6¢ to 7¢, per gallon.

  • 1970 - Gas tax increased from 7¢ to 9¢, per gallon.
  • 1971 - Registration stickers for metal tags were introduced.
  • 1973 - the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund was created phasing out the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund.
  • 1974 - MVA started flagging vehicle owners who had unpaid parking violations.
  • 1974 - Organ Donor Program was created whereby an individual was permitted to authorize removal upon death of body organs needed for transplants, therapy, medical research or education.
  • 1975 - New automatic testing equipment was installed to replace the written examination as part of the driving test.
  • 1978 - Maryland started a national trend when it enacted a graduated licensing system requiring young drivers to complete a provisional licensing period.
  • 1979 - Motorcyclists were required to wear shatterproof glasses while riding.
  • 1979 - Automobile dealers became part of the Dealer Advisory Board to help establish policy relating to new and used car dealers.

  • 1982 - Gas tax increased from 9¢ to 11¢, per gallon.
  • 1983 - Gas tax increased from 11¢ to 13.5¢, per gallon.
  • 1986 - Motorcycle Safety program established as a permanent program.
  • 1987 - Gas tax increased from 13.5¢ to 18.5¢, per gallon.
  • 1987 - Bel Air Branch office opened.
  • 1987-1988 - Completion of the "War on Paper", 51 million paper documents were microfilmed.
  • Implementation of the International Registration Plan (IRP).

  • 1992 - Gas tax increased from 18.5¢ to 23.5¢, per gallon.
  • 1992 - Q-Matic installed in MVA offices.
  • 1993 - Driver License Production System  (DLPS) is implemented statewide.
  • 1994 - Customers could register to vote at MVA offices.
  • 1996 - MVA switched from a Unisys mainframe computer system to an IBM based system.
  • 1998 - Telephone and internet vehicle registration renewals were added to "Access Maryland", MVA's program for electronic self-services.
  • 1999 - Rookie Driver: Graduated Licensing Program implemented.

  • ​2000 - All employees began having their wages paid by direct deposit as a condition of employment.
  • 2001 - MVA began suspending a driver's license and/or vehicle registration of a person had an Outstanding Arrest Warrant.
  • 2001 - Document Imaging and Workflow System (DIWS) was implemented to replace the old Document Imaging Optical Data system.
  • 2003 - A new paperless driver license system was implemented featuring state-of-the-art digital cameras, card printers, point-of-sale terminals and databases.
  • 2003 - The driver's handbook was revised and for the first time became available on MVA's website.
  • 2004 - Mail in Driver's License renewal began.
  • 2008 - Central Scheduling System enabled customers to schedule appointments on-line.
  • 2008 - MdTA Police began providing law enforcement services at MVA Glen Burnie.
  • 2009 - Lawful Presence Begins in Maryland.
  • Total number of MVA employees:  1,619.