DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles)

Driving an automobile is a huge responsibility, so getting your first Driver's License (DL) may cause you to feel anxious and excited all at once. You will need to learn the driving laws in your state, as well as how to apply for a license, how much it will cost, etc.  It may seem like a lot of information, but the Department of Motor Vehicles provides you with everything you need to know. Your local DMV has carefully compiled a list of all the requirements and instructions related to getting a driver’s handbook, applying for a driver's license, or obtaining an ID card in your state. Please visit the DMV online at www.dmv.org. Select the state where you live and follow the procedures.

When going to the DMV, it is a good idea to go early and be prepared to wait for a while. Make sure you bring along all the required documents if you are applying for a license. If you are missing any item, your application will not be processed and you will have to return another day. It is also advised to check all your important documents to make sure that critical information such as the spelling of your name and your date of birth are written EXACTLY THE SAME on all of your papers. If there are any inconsistencies, the DMV may refuse to issue your license.

If you decide to purchase an automobile while in the United States, please read the following information concerning auto insurance.                                                                                                 

In the United States, auto insurance covering liability for injuries and property damage done to others is compulsory in most states, though different states enforce the requirement differently. The state of New Hampshire (NH), for example, does not require motorists to carry liability insurance (the ballpark model), while in Virginia (VA) residents must pay the state a $500 annual fee per vehicle if they choose not to buy liability insurance. Penalties for not purchasing auto insurance vary by state, but often involve a substantial fine, license and/or registration suspension or revocation, as well as possible jail time. Usually, the minimum required by law is third party insurance to protect third parties against the financial consequences of loss, damage or injury caused by a vehicle.

One common misconception in the United States is that vehicles that are financed on credit through a bank or credit union are required to have "full" coverage in order for the financial institution to cover their losses in the case of an accident. While most states do require additional coverage to be purchased, some such as Pennsylvania (PA) only require Comprehensive and Collision to be purchased in addition to liability and not "full" coverage. Vehicles bought on cash or have been paid off by the owner are generally required to only carry liability. In some cases, vehicles financed through a "buy-here-pay-here" car dealership — in which the consumer (generally those with poor credit) finances a car and pays the dealer directly without a bank — also only require liability coverage.

Several states, like California (CA) and New Jersey (NJ), have enacted "Personal Responsibility Acts" which put further pressure on all drivers to carry liability insurance by preventing uninsured drivers from recovering noneconomic damages (e.g. compensation for "pain and suffering") if they are injured in any way while operating a motor vehicle.

Some states, such as North Carolina (NC), require that a driver hold liability insurance before a license can be issued.

Some states require that insurance be carried in the car at all times, while others do not enforce this law. For example, North Carolina (NC) does not specify that you must carry proof of insurance in the vehicle; however, NC does state that you must have that information to trade with another driver in the event of an accident. Whether a state specifies you must have proof of insurance in the car or not, it's always advisable to have the information on hand in case an officer should request it.