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History of Iowa motor vehicle enforcement investigations

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The 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 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 liaison with county treasurers. 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 an included responsibility, and in the late 1980s use tax fraud and driver's license fraud investigations were added. Investigators perform a multitude of local, state and federal enforcement functions with a staff of 22 investigators, an investigative captain, and a centralized major.