The distribution and sale of vehicles in Idaho affects the state's general economy and has a significant impact on the public. To protect these interests, the 1913 Idaho Legislature passed the first law requiring dealers (of new motor vehicles) and automobile manufacturers to be licensed.

In 1913, many different makes of vehicles could be purchased in the city of Boise, including Fords, Saxons, Overlands, Oldsmobiles, Stanley Steamers, Buicks, Knights, Metz's, and even Marion Bobcats. Some are familiar vehicle names and others are long forgotten, but the licensing of dealers has continued through the years.

Used vehicle dealers were first required to be licensed in 1927. The law requiring this addition in dealer licensing was called the "Uniform Motor Vehicle Anti-theft Act" and required each vehicle being sold to be titled and have a vehicle identification number (VIN). On many of the older vehicles the motor had one number and the frame/body had a different number. Sometimes both numbers were recorded on the title, other times only the motor number would be shown. Since a motor can be changed, Idaho now records only the VIN shown on the body of each vehicle.

From the beginning, dealer licensing has been a learning experience for both the dealers and the state. Over time, motor vehicle dealer laws have evolved, changed, stopped, and started. In 1965, the Dealer Advisory Board was established to assist and advise in the administration of these laws.

One of the laws that evolved required dealers to have surety bonds. To begin with, the vehicle dealers were required to have a $10,000.00 bond and the salespeople were required to have a $2,000.00 bond. Today, dealers have a $20,000.00 bond that covers their dealership and their salespeople. Dealer license fees have also increased from the original $35.00 to the current fee of $125.00.

The 1986 federally-mandated Truth in Mileage Act has provided the consumer with added protection by strengthening odometer requirements and increasing the criminal penalties for odometer violations.

The Dealer Licensing Unit currently has eight Motor Vehicle Investigators throughout the state to help solve problems and enforce the provisions of the laws regulating the licensing of manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and factory representatives doing business in the state of Idaho.


Although the state of Idaho had been licensing vehicles since 1913, vehicle titles weren't required until the 1927 Idaho Legislature passed the Uniform Motor Vehicle Anti-theft Act with the intention of halting the licensing of stolen vehicles. The Motor Vehicle Bureau (which was already established with Registrations and Dealer Services under the Department of Law Enforcement) was given the responsibility of implementing the title requirements of the new law.

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