FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles celebrated 50 years as a State Agency today with a program and display on the Empire State Plaza in Albany that included more than 25 motor vehicles from 1961 to the present. The DMV was established on January 1, 1961 as the 20th department of New York State government.
Speaking at the event, DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala said, "I want to thank all the Commissioners who served before me as well as all the members of the DMV administration and staff - both past and present - who have helped make DMV the national leader in customer service and highway safety that it is today. We at DMV will continue to strive to carry out all aspects of our mission, particularly promoting traffic safety and providing the highest quality customer service."
A citation was presented to Commissioner Fiala from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. In the citation the Governor said, "Thanks to the dedication and hard work of thousands of past and present employees who share a vision and work together to provide the best possible services to the public, the DMV successfully carries out its mission; today, the Department is a role model for traffic safety and motor vehicle administration, and it is fitting to recognize its outstanding efforts to serve the people and communities of New York state throughout the past half century."
In 1961, there were 5 million registered vehicles and nearly 7 million licensed drivers in New York State. Today, there are more than 10 million registered vehicles and more than 11 million licensed drivers statewide.
When it was established, the agency's primary charge was to oversee the licensing of drivers and the registration of vehicles. In addition to registering automobiles, the Department now also registers boats, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles. It also issues non-driver identification cards and approximately 3.3 million vehicle titles each year.
To help ensure that vehicles traveling New York State's highways are properly equipped and maintained, DMV regulates the auto repair industry and administers the motor vehicle safety inspection program. The Department also assists consumers with complaints against auto dealers, repair shops and inspection stations. The DMV also strives to deter auto theft, prevent uninsured vehicles from being operated on roadways and adjudicates non-criminal traffic violations.
In addition to its operational work, New York's DMV is also a national leader in promoting highway safety. In 1981, New York launched the first impaired driving program in the nation. In 1984, New York became the first state to enact a mandatory seat belt law. The DMV's efforts in these areas and other areas of highway safety have helped make the State's highways the safest they have ever been with fatalities and injuries on New York's roadways steadily decreasing over the years despite a dramatic increase in licensed drivers and registered vehicles.
DMV is headquartered in Albany with offices around the state. In addition, 51 County Clerks serve as agents of the DMV to provide DMV services in their offices. The Department serves more than 20 million customers in offices each year, and more than 3 million transactions will be processed through the DMV Internet site this year.
Commissioner Fiala was joined at the event by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, Superintendant Joseph D'Amico of the New York State Police, RoAnn Distito, Commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services and Jeff Crouse, Chairman of the NYS Automobile Dealers Association. Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner, who serves as Chair of the New York State County Clerks DMV Committee, also attended the celebration, representing the 51 County Clerks across the state that partner with DMV to provide services.
Assembly Member Michael DenDekker said, "For half a century, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has led the way at keeping New Yorkers safe. As the automobile has grown in importance, so has the DMV's mission. Today we celebrate all that the DMV has given us. It does much more than simply issue licenses and register automobiles, trucks, recreational boats and snowmobiles; it ensures that motorists are properly trained, that the vehicles operating on New York's highways, streets, and lanes are safe, and that traffic laws reflect the needs of motorists and other travelers alike. It's a relatively small state agency with an enormous mission that touches all of our lives."
State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "In 50 years, the Department of Motor Vehicles has grown tremendously in terms of public expectation and responsibility. From a law enforcement perspective, this means better driver education, progressive crime fighting capabilities, improved personal and national security, and overall improvements in highway safety.""
Commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services RoAnn Distito said, "Governor Cuomo has made driver safety a priority by signing legislation that imposes strict penalties for those who use handheld electronic devices while driving. This action is a prime illustration of how New York State pro-actively addresses the ever-changing issues that affect motorists and just one example of the important role the Department of Motor Vehicles will play in the years ahead."
Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner said, "51 of the 62 County Clerks, by statute, are agents for the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, a responsibility that fits well within the framework of a county clerk. Since the earliest days when the Secretary of State operated DMVs through County Clerks, we, as Clerks, have served the motoring public. As DMV moves towards technology, the Clerks look forward to continuing to operate DMVs and being 'at the table' as we all attempt to serve the people of New York State. Congratulations to DMV on 50 years of service from the Association of County Clerks!"
New York State Automobile Dealers Association Chairman Jeff Crouse said, "Speaking on behalf of over 1000 franchised new car and truck dealers located across New York State we extend hearty congratulations to the Department of Motor Vehicles on the occasion of their Golden Anniversary. We appreciate the close working relationship that we have enjoyed with the DMV over these past 50 years to benefit the motorists of New York State."
In addition to vintage vehicles including a 1961 Chevy Corvette, a 1986 Rolls Royce and a 2011 Smart Car, there were also exhibits of DMV history and memorabilia as well as interactive exhibits from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the Division of Field Investigations, both of which are also based within the DMV. Music from the 1960s to present was also played on the Plaza throughout the day.
More information about the Department of Motor Vehicles can be found at www.dmv.ny.gov.
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