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History of Iowa motor vehicle enforcement investigations

The Iowa DOTís Motor Vehicle Division was established in 1904 under the secretary of state. In 1919, it became the department responsible for the registration and licensing of motor vehicles. Motor vehicle "agents" were given the authority to enforce motor vehicle laws in 1927.

In 1937, the dealer licensing statutes were enacted, and the motor vehicle agents began to enforce those laws. The Iowa Department of Public Safety was created in 1935 and the agents assigned to the Motor Vehicle Registration Division became "inspectors." Their primary responsibility was to investigate dealer license applicants and to act as a administrative liaisons with county treasurerís offices. Beginning in the early 1950s, the inspectors and agents duties were combined and approximately 20 years later they became known as "investigators."

In 1975, the Iowa DOT was created and the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement was formed. The investigators assigned to the Iowa Department of Public Safety were transferred to the Iowa DOT. Because of the numerous enforcement duties that evolved, an investigative section was created. The functions of this section dealt primarily with dealer licensing and enforcement of registration laws. Approximately 30 personnel, including command staff, were originally assigned to this section. In the early 1980s, odometer fraud investigations were included to the section's responsibilities. In the late 1980s, use tax fraud and driver's license fraud investigations were added. In the 1990s, five Investigators were selected to specialize in areas of vehicle and dealer fraud, along with the areas of driverís license and identity fraud. This specialized group focused on larger scale investigations and training in related areas.

Beginning in 2005, the efforts of this specialized team were felt by all investigative staff and helped foster an environment where all investigators focused more attention in the areas of motor vehicle and identification fraud while finding ways to more efficiently conduct general administrative investigations. At this time, investigators were given the responsibility of conducting investigations on vehicles being titled in Iowa that came back positive in the National Motor Vehicle Title and Information System.

In 2008, an investigative tool was added that provided a valuable resource in detecting identity fraud: image verification. This biometric tool enhanced investigative capabilities by detecting possible identity fraud shortly after issuance and provided a significant tool in protecting identities. This tool is in use today and has been upgraded to include the ability to enhance image quality, and has been linked to the gated identity issuance process.

In December 2013, the investigative unit became an independent bureau within the Motor Vehicle Division: the Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection. Additional responsibilities given to the bureau include security within the driver and vehicle issuance processes and an expanded role in biometric use. The bureau is also responsible for related training in these areas. Bureau supervisors consist of a director and deputy director.