The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) runs the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is through the Wisconsin DOT that you can complete most driving- and vehicle-related issues, such as getting a driver’s license, completing a driving test, or getting a car titled and registered. Conveniently, the Wisconsin DMV has put most of its services online, with many even being offered in Spanish. And even if you do need to visit the Wisconsin DMV in person, the Wisconsin DMV website offers a very helpful tool whereby you can locate your nearest DMV office and find out what the estimated wait time there is.
Below we will give a brief overview of the sort of services the Wisconsin DOT and DMV offer and whether they can be done online, over the phone, or in person.
The list of services that the Wisconsin DOT and DMV offers is too long to list here. What you should keep in mind is that if you have a vehicle- or driving-related concern that likely falls under the purview of the state government, then it is likely that the Wisconsin DMV is the state agency that will handle your issue. Some of the most popular DMV services include:
• Getting or renewing a driver’s license
• Titling and registering a vehicle
• Getting new license plates
• Purchasing driving records
• Purchasing crash reports
• Checking the status of your license
• Reinstating driving privileges
• Changing your address
Note that if you got a traffic ticket in Wisconsin, chances are you won’t pay for it through the Wisconsin DMV. Rather, fines for speeding tickets and other moving violations are paid to the local county where the ticket was issued. If you want to pay your traffic fine online, you can do so through the convenient online payment system setup by the Wisconsin Court System website.
Driving tests for regular and motorcycle licenses can be scheduled online. However, if you are a new Wisconsin resident you cannot actually begin the driver license application online; rather, you will have to visit your nearest DMV and provide proof of residency. Most new residents don’t have to take a driving test so long as they hold a valid license from their previous state. Only new drivers, drivers who haven’t held a valid license for the last eight years, or those who have a relevant medical condition (such as a lost limb) are required to take a driving test. For all driver tests there is a $15 fee and tests can be booked up to 11 weeks in advance.
Most new residents are required to apply for a Wisconsin driver’s license within 60 days of establishing residency, so long as they are applying for a Class D or Class M (auto or motorcycle) license. Most other license types must be applied for within 30 days of residency. As mentioned above, to apply for a license you must visit a DMV in person. You can find a list of DMV offices here. When at the DMV you will need to fill out an application, have your photo taken, pass any written, vision, hearing or driving tests as required, and pay the appropriate fee. Also, if you were convicted of a serious moving offense in another state than you may be ineligible for a Wisconsin driver’s license, at least until you have completed certain conditions, such as possibly attending a driving school, before you will be eligible.
A driver abstract, or driving record, is an important document that lists information about your driving history, such as accidents, traffic citations, and personal information. You can apply for your own driver abstract online here through the DMV. Keep in mind that online driver abstracts are non-certified, meaning they can’t be used for court purposes. If you need a certified driver abstract you will need to mail in an application. Non-certified driving records can also be obtained through third-party databases, like SearchQuarry.com.
When you buy a vehicle in Wisconsin, the good news is that you don’t need to visit the DMV and waste your afternoon waiting in line. Unlike most states, Wisconsin has moved the entire registration and titling process for new vehicles to a mix of online and via the mail processes. However, check restrictions here on situations where registration and titling will still need to be completed in person. To register and title your new vehicle online you will need the following documents on hand:
• Original Vehicle title
• A lien release (if relevant)
• An odometer reading for vehicles less than 10 years old
• Valid Wisconsin ID (such as a driver’s license)
• Social Security number
• Date of birth
• Credit/ or Debit cards are accepted
You will also need a printer to print off your receipt, which will then need to be mailed into the address on the receipt. Along with the receipt, you will also need to mail in the original title signed by the seller and, if applicable, the original lien release and, if the seller is a trust, a Wisconsin Trustee Statement for Certificate of Title.