Nearest Office:

How to Check your Driving Record

How to Check your Driving Record

Your driving record is one of the key factors insurance companies consider when determining insurance premiums. In general, a good driving record will lead to cheaper premiums compared to having a history of accidents and traffic or moving violations.

If you are curious about what your driving record looks like or are planning to shop around for insurance, learn how to obtain your driving records and analyze them.

What is a Driving Record

A driving record, often maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or an equivalent governmental agency, is a comprehensive dossier detailing a driver’s history and behaviors on the road.

This vital document encapsulates various aspects of drivers' interactions and compliance with traffic rules, providing a nuanced view of their adherence to road safety and legal standards.

From regular traffic violations, such as speeding tickets or failing to adhere to stop signs, to more severe infractions like accident reports and DUI offenses, a driving record provides a holistic view of a driver’s past actions.

Particularly intriguing is the points system, which many regions utilize to quantify a driver’s violations and infractions in a numerical format.

Points are typically accumulated through different kinds of traffic violations, with more severe infractions contributing to a higher point count. A driver’s record also diligently reports the current status of their license, indicating whether it’s valid, expired, or has been suspended or revoked.

Additional details, such as the driver’s license classifications and endorsements, which specify the types of vehicles they are authorized to operate, are also prominently featured.

The implications of driving records extend beyond mere documentation; they play a pivotal role in contexts like insurance and employment.

Insurance companies leverage the information in driving records to evaluate a driver’s risk level, influencing policy approval and premium determination.

Simultaneously, employers who hire for positions entailing driving responsibilities may scrutinize potential hires' driving records.

This ensures they entrust their vehicles to individuals with a history of safe and lawful driving, safeguarding organizational assets and reputation.

Thus, a driving record stands out not merely as a ledger of past actions but as a tool utilized by various entities to gauge responsibility and adherence to road safety norms.

Type of Driving Records

Driving records, while consistently offering a history of a driver’s behavior on the road, can come in various types or levels of detail depending on the jurisdiction and the specific request of the individual or entity obtaining the record. Here are some common types of driving records:

Standard Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Commonly used for personal, insurance, and employment purposes.
  • Content: Includes basic information about the driver, license status, violation points, and perhaps a few years' worth of history regarding traffic violations and accidents.

Complete Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Typically required for official or legal uses.
  • Content: Comprehensive and detailed, including all available information about a driver’s history, which might span many years or even decades.

Commercial Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Specific to individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and is often used by employers hiring for commercial driving positions.
  • Content: May contain detailed information regarding the driver’s history, especially about commercial vehicles, along with general driving history.

Certified Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Often required for court or other legal proceedings.
  • Content: Contains official certification or validation (such as a stamp or seal) affirming the accuracy and authenticity of the information provided.

Insurance Abstract:

  • Purpose: Used by insurance companies for underwriting and policy issuance.
  • Content: Primarily focuses on accidents and traffic violations that are of interest to insurance companies when assessing risk and determining premium rates.

Employer Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Used by employers to verify the driving history of potential hires for driving-related positions.
  • Content: May focus on specific aspects related to the safety and reliability of a driver, including violations, accidents, and license status.

H6 Printout or 10-Year Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Sometimes requested by employers or legal entities.
  • Content: Provides a detailed history of the driver’s activity over the past ten years, offering a long-term view of their behavior on the road.

3-Year Driving Record:

  • Purpose: Often used by individuals, employers, or insurance companies.
  • Content: Summarizes the driver’s history, including violations and accidents, over the previous three years.

These categories have slight variations or different terminologies based on the jurisdiction. It’s important to note that availability and specific details contained within each type of driving record might differ based on local regulations and practices. Always refer to the local or state motor vehicle agency for precise information and requests.

How to Check your Driving Record

Checking a driving record is an imperative task, especially when needed for specific purposes like employment, insurance evaluation, or personal review. Understanding the type of driving record needed is a fundamental step in this process.

Different forms or types of driving records, such as standard, complete, or certified, provide varying degrees of detail and are utilized for distinct purposes.

They identify the specific information and form of record related to violation points, specific accidents, or overall driver status, which aids in streamlining the subsequent retrieval process.

Modern technology has facilitated the ability to check driving records online in many regions.

By visiting the official website of your local motor vehicle agency, like the DMV, individuals can navigate through dedicated sections concerning driving records, possibly creating an account, and adhere to provided steps to request their driving history.

For those preferring or requiring in-person interactions, visiting the local motor vehicle agency office is an option. Here, individuals can present relevant identification, complete necessary forms, and obtain their record immediately or have it dispatched via mail.

How Insurance Companies Use Your Driving Record

Insurance companies employ driving records as a pivotal tool in assessing an individual’s driving history and, by extension, their risk level as a policyholder. A driving record encapsulates various aspects of an individual’s behavior on the road, including violations, accidents, and, in some cases, points for infractions.

Insurers meticulously scrutinize this data to determine the likelihood of the policyholder being involved in future accidents or committing violations. Thus, a driver with a clean record with no or few infractions is often deemed a lower risk and may be offered lower premium rates compared to a driver punctuated by numerous violations or accidents.

In addition to determining premium rates, driving records can influence an insurer’s decision regarding policy approval and eligibility. Some insurance companies might enforce stringent rules, wherein a driver with a particularly concerning driving record, such as one with multiple DUI convictions, severe violations, or a string of accidents, may be deemed too high risk to insure.

In other instances, while they still provide coverage, it could come with significantly higher premiums, specialized high-risk policies, or particular restrictions and stipulations attached.

Many insurance companies operate reward programs or offer discounts to drivers with clean driving records.

For instance, drivers with no traffic or moving violations and accidents over a certain period might be eligible for a safe driver discount.

Other benefits include lower deductibles, cash-back rewards, or reduced premiums. Such programs and discounts are implemented to incentivize safe driving behaviors and retain policyholders with lower profile risk, benefitting the insurance and the insured.

Once a policy is issued, insurance companies periodically review the driving records of their policyholders to ensure that their risk status has stayed the same.

For instance, if a policyholder incurs new violations or is involved in accidents, it might impact their premium upon renewal or, in some cases, their eligibility for ongoing coverage. Conversely, if a policyholder who previously had infractions ages out of certain violations (based on local regulations regarding how long infractions remain on a driving record), they might see a reduction in their premiums.

Thus, a driving record is not only relevant at the initial application stage but continues to influence policy management and renewals throughout the tenure of coverage.

What is a Motor Vehicle Report

A Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), also commonly known as a driving record, serves as an official document delineating an individual’s history and behaviors on the road. They are managed and issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or an equivalent state agency. An MVR provides an organized, chronological record of drivers' interactions with traffic systems and law enforcement, reflecting their adherence (or lack thereof) to road safety and regulations.

This document serves various functions and is utilized by numerous entities, including individuals, employers, and insurance companies, to assess a driver’s reliability and safety on the road.

An MVR commences with the individual driver’s personal and license information, providing a foundational understanding of the driver’s official identification and authorization to operate a vehicle.

This section typically includes details such as the driver’s name, address, date of birth, and physical descriptors like height and eye color. Further, it outlines specifics regarding the driver’s license, such as the license number, classification, type (e.g., regular, commercial, provisional), and status (valid, expired, suspended, or revoked).

Subsequent sections of the MVR delve into the driver’s history of traffic violations and convictions. This could range from minor infractions, such as speeding tickets or failing to yield, to more serious convictions, like driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving.

Each entry generally incorporates details about the incident, including the date, location, nature of the violation or conviction, and any resultant actions taken, such as fines paid, court appearances, or completion of a driving school.

The MVR also meticulously documents any accidents or collisions the driver has been involved in. This includes not only incidents where the individual was deemed at fault but also those where they were a non-fault party.

For each accident, the report typically specifies the date, location, and a brief description of the incident. Additionally, it may contain information regarding any injuries, fatalities, or property damage that transpired due to the accident.

In many regions, the MVR also maintains a record of points accumulated against the driver’s license, wherein different violations and infractions contribute to a cumulative point total.

How points impact the driver—such as influencing insurance premiums or contributing to license suspension—can vary by jurisdiction.

Additionally, the report may list any endorsements on the driver’s license, indicating specialized training or authorization to operate particular vehicle types, such as motorcycles or commercial vehicles.

An MVR is not merely a personal record; it permeates various domains, influencing decisions and assessments in employment, insurance, and legal proceedings.

Employers, especially those in the transportation sector, may evaluate an applicant’s MVR to determine their suitability for roles involving driving.

Insurance companies scrutinize MVRs to assess risk and determine policy premiums. Legal entities might utilize MVRs in proceedings to establish behavior patterns or validate claims. Thus, an MVR is a multi-faceted document underpinning decision-making processes across diverse sectors.

Given the widespread utilization and impact of MVRs, it is paramount for individuals to ensure the accuracy of their reports.

Drivers are advised to periodically review their MVR, checking for any discrepancies or errors in the documented information. In instances where inaccuracies are identified, drivers should pursue corrections through the relevant motor vehicle agency to safeguard against unwarranted repercussions.

Maintaining an accurate MVR and being cognizant of its contents enables drivers to be better prepared and informed when the document is utilized in contexts such as insurance acquisition or employment considerations.

Driver Record vs Motor Vehicle Record

A driver record, often utilized interchangeably with the term “driving record,” is a document that aggregates and chronicles an individual’s driving history, focusing on aspects such as violations, penalties, and other pertinent events.

Typically maintained and provided by the governing motor vehicle agency in a particular state or country, the driver record provides a transparent view of a person’s adherence and compliance to traffic laws over a specified period.

It encompasses data such as traffic tickets, violations, penalty points, and possibly accidents, giving a general overview of the individual’s behavior and conduct on the road.

Conversely, a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), while largely synonymous with a driver record in common parlance, can sometimes be perceived or formulated differently depending on jurisdictional norms and definitions.

An MVR usually includes all the details encapsulated in a driver record but may also contain additional, specific information such as license classifications, endorsements, restrictions, and possibly detailed accident reports.

MVRs are often employed by various entities, like employers or insurance companies, to assess an individual’s risk, reliability, and legality as a driver, considering the comprehensive data provided therein.

While driver records and MVRs are often utilized interchangeably due to their substantial similarity, the specific contexts or entities using them might differentiate between them based on the depth or type of information required.

For instance, insurance companies might often refer to obtaining an MVR, seeking a detailed and comprehensive overview of a driver’s history to assess insurability and premium calculations.

On the other hand, an individual simply seeking to check their status, points, or basic history might refer to obtaining their driver’s record, even if the actual document retrieved contains the same depth of information as an MVR.

Regardless of the term employed, the essential factor is the information contained within the record. Different states, countries, or entities might have specific norms regarding what is included in these reports and how they are referred to.

Consequently, while distinctions can be made, it is pivotal to note that the practical application and relevance of driver records and MVRs are predominantly parallel.

Whether dealing with personal review, employment screening, or insurance underwriting, these documents provide a historical view of driving behavior, facilitating informed decisions and evaluations by all relevant stakeholders.

What if my Driver’s Record is not Clean?

A driver record that is not clean meaning it has instances of traffic violations, accidents, or other infractions, can directly impact your dealings with insurance companies. Insurance providers leverage the information within your driving record to assess your risk level as a driver and, consequently, determine your insurance premiums.

Drivers with blemished records often face higher premiums as they are perceived to be at a higher risk of filing future claims based on their past driving behavior.

In some cases, individuals with particularly troubled driving records might find it challenging to secure coverage or may be directed to insurers specializing in high-risk policies, which generally come with substantially higher costs.

For those seeking employment in driving-related fields – such as delivery services, trucking, or any profession requiring the regular operation of a vehicle – a less-than-stellar driver record can pose substantial barriers.

Employers typically peruse potential employees' driving records as a standard element of the hiring process to evaluate their reliability and safety.

A record punctuated by numerous infractions, severe violations like DUIs, or reckless driving may diminish employment opportunities in these sectors, as employers deem such candidates to be liabilities, fearing potential accidents, legal ramifications, or increased insurance premiums.

From a legal perspective, a tarnished driver’s record can influence judgments and consequences in any future traffic violations or legal proceedings related to driving. The historical pattern of behavior demonstrated through repeated infractions or involvement in accidents may be used to establish a need for more adherence to traffic laws and safe driving practices.

Financially, beyond heightened insurance premiums, a sullied driver record might also entail ongoing costs such as fines, penalty fees, and, potentially, legal expenses. In certain jurisdictions, accumulated points from traffic violations might necessitate attendance in a driving school or safety course, further adding to the financial burden.

On a more personal and social level, a marred driver record can also impact how others perceive you and influence your personal life.

For instance, if your driver record is scrutinized as part of a background check for purposes such as rental applications or volunteer opportunities – especially those involving driving – a tarnished record may dampen your prospects.

Friends or family might harbor reservations about your driving habits, and in some cases, your driver record might even impact your social or professional reputation. Thus, maintaining a clean driver record transcends mere legality and financial implications, permeating various aspects of personal and social life.

How Long do Accidents Stay on your Record?

The duration an accident stays in your record varies by state as each has different regulations. Traffic violations typically stay on your record for three to five years. Other infractions may even remain for up to ten years, depending on the severity of the infraction and the jurisdiction.

Various factors influence this duration, including the nature of the violation, the incurred damages, and whether any injuries or fatalities were involved. More serious infractions, such as DUI-related accidents, often stay on record longer than minor violations.

The presence of accidents and traffic violations on your record is likely to impact your insurance premiums for the time the incidents are on your record. Insurance companies utilize your driving history as a metric to determine your risk level as a driver, which impacts your rates for premiums.

If you are involved in an accident, whether at fault or not, your premiums will likely impact your insurance as the accident will elevate your perceived risk by the insurance companies.

Some companies offer accident forgiveness programs, which can help reduce the impact accidents have on premiums, typically under specific conditions and often not negating the incident from your record.

Aside from impacting your insurance, having a tenure of accidents on your record can also have legal impacts and affect employment.

For instance, if you are involved in a legal case related to a driving accident, your driving record might be used to determine your driving patterns, such as if you are a safe driver or have a history of traffic violations or accidents.

Similarly, certain industries, like the transportation industry, can use your driving record to measure your reliability and adherence to safe driving practices.

Despite the longevity of accidents on a driving record, individuals can take proactive steps toward maintaining a cleaner record. Adhering to safe driving practices, respecting traffic rules, and enrolling in defensive driving courses can prevent additional infractions from tarnishing the record.

In some jurisdictions, completing a traffic school or defensive driving course enables you to expunge points from your record or prevent them from being added following a violation.

Continually monitoring your record and understanding local regulations regarding its contents can help guide mindful practices and informed decisions on the road.

How to Obtain a Copy of your Records

Purchasing a copy of your driving record typically involves interacting with the designated authority responsible for maintaining such records, often the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or its equivalent in your respective state or country.

The precise procedures, availability, and even the nomenclature of the record (such as Motor Vehicle Report or Driver Abstract) can vary significantly by jurisdiction.

The first step involves identifying and contacting the appropriate authority or visiting their website to understand the prescribed process, requirements, and fees associated with obtaining a copy of your driving record.

In numerous jurisdictions, citizens can obtain certain documents online using the state’s official website, such as driving records.

You may be able to order a copy of your record via the official website of the relevant authority, where you will typically need to create an account, provide identifying information (like your driver’s license number, Social Security number, or other identifiers), and pay a specified fee electronically via credit card or other online payment methods.

The record may then be delivered electronically or mailed to your registered address, depending on the options provided and your preferences.

In instances where online requests are not available or feasible, or if you prefer a face-to-face interaction, obtaining your driving record can often be accomplished through an in-person visit to a physical office of the relevant authority.

You must complete an application form, present valid identification, and pay the applicable fee (often via cash, card, or money order). Depending on the specific processes in place, you might receive a copy of your driving record on the spot, or it may be mailed to you later.

It’s prudent to check the required documents and office hours before your visit to ensure a smooth and efficient process.

Alternatively, various third-party service providers can facilitate access to your driving record, often providing expedited services or additional assistance in obtaining the document.

These services, which typically operate online, will require you to submit relevant information and consent to a fee, generally higher than that charged by official government channels to account for their facilitation services.

While convenient, it’s crucial to exercise caution and ensure the legitimacy of third-party providers to safeguard your personal information and financial transactions. Always opt for reputable platforms, and when in doubt, prefer direct interactions with official government channels to procure your driving record.

Updated: December 2023

Free Insurance Quote

Receive a car insurance quote in 2 minutes or less!

Auto Insurance

Motorcycle Insurance

Homeowners Insurance

Renters Insurance