For new and current residents of Minnesota, having a license and vehicle can be a convenient way for getting to work, school, or just for running errands. As in the rest of the United States, you will need a license in order to drive in Minnesota. Most license- and driver-related issues are handled by Minnesota DVS, or Minnesota Driver & Vehicle Services, which is a Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. You can think of the DVS as Minnesota’s version of the DMV. Below we will take a look at some driving-related services that the Minnesota DVS provides–and some that they don’t
Unfortunately, the Minnesota DVS is a bit behind the times when it comes to requesting driving records. Whereas many other states now have easy-to-use online forms for requesting driving records, in Minnesota the easiest way to request a record is to either mail in your request form or deliver it in person to the DVS. A list of DVS locations throughout Minnesota can be found here. You can, however, email the DVS to make an application for a driving record. You should visit the Records Request Procedure page of the DVS for more information. There are four different types of records available: commercial, individual, government access, and crash records. Each type of record is subject to privacy laws and fees. Fees vary depending on the record being requested and whether it is for yourself or another person.
In Minnesota, driving tests are referred to as Skills Tests. If you are applying for a Class D or motorcycle license then you can schedule your Skills Test online. You will need a Minnesota instruction permit or driver’s license number to do so. For other driving tests, such as Minnesota commercial driver’s license (CDL) tests, you will need to contact the DVS directly.
If you are a new resident to Minnesota then you can simply trade in your current out-of-state license for a Minnesota one without taking a Skills Test so long as your out-of-state license has not been expired for more than one year and it was issued by another U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Northern Mariana or a Canadian province. Licenses issued by a jurisdiction other than those listed will require a Skills Test if you want a Minnesota driver’s license.
Regular driver’s licenses in Minnesota are referred to as Class D licenses. As mentioned above, so long as you have a valid license from another state or select territory or country then you can easily trade in your license for a Minnesota one.
New drivers who are under age 18 will have to complete the graduated Minnesota driver’s licensing (GDL) system. Similar to the graduated systems used in other states, this system eases new drivers into becoming comfortable with driving and the rules of the road by putting certain restrictions on them. For example, the first step for most new drivers is to get a permit, which allows them to drive so long as a fully licensed driver who is 21 or over is in the car with them. In Phase II, the new driver receives a provisional license so long as they complete certain training, education, tests, and applications, and accrue more than 50 hours of driving experience. Finally, so long as the driver doesn’t have any accidents or citations, such as for running a red light or reckless driving, for 12 months with their provisional license then they can upgrade to a full license.
If you have received a traffic citation in Minnesota then you will likely be required to pay a fine. Most fines are not actually paid through the DVS but rather through the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Fortunately, the Minnesota Judicial Branch allows for online payment of traffic citations. Be aware that by paying a traffic citation you are pleading guilty to the offense. For citations issued in Hennepin, Ramsey or Washington counties you can actually contest your citation online. For all other counties you will have to contest the citation at your local court. For some traffic citations, you may need to satisfy other conditions, such as attending traffic school, in order to avoid having your license suspended.
If you have just moved to Minnesota you have 60 days to register your vehicle. To register your vehicle, you will need to provide proof of ownership (preferably the vehicle title, although you can also supply the current registration), an odometer reading (this may be on the title), and a completed Minnesota Application to Title and Register a Motor Vehicle. You will also need to provide identification, such as your current driver’s license. You can find a list of accepted identification here from the DVS. You will also need to provide proof that you are carrying no-fault insurance on the vehicle and you will need to pay a registration tax.