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Guide to Driving Records


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The very first time you apply for a learner’s permit or driver’s license and get behind the wheel, the DMV will start keeping a record of you. 

Whether you’ve seen your own driving record or not, it exists and follows you throughout your life as a driver.

A driving record serves a handful of purposes from helping insurance companies determine your rates to flagging you as a problem driver. 

This page will answer some of the most common questions we receive about driving records. Keep reading to learn more!

If you’ve racked up too many points, be sure to use our free car insurance comparison tools throughout the website to find a cheaper policy. 

What is a Driving Record?

A driving record or motor vehicle report (MVR) is pretty much just what it sounds like, it is a document that keeps track of your driving history. 

Whether you’ve had any traffic tickets or not, you still have a driving record. 

The basic information on your driving records are things like:

  • Your name.
  • Your mailing address.
  • The type of license you have.
  • Your driver’s license number. 
  • How long you’ve been driving. 

However, the driving record is also used to track your traffic violations and will include information about any:

  • Traffic tickets. 
  • DUIs.
  • License suspensions.
  • Car accidents.

In many ways, a driving record is similar to your credit report. It contains information about you as a driver that can be used by the DMV, insurance companies, and employers to make decisions about you. 

That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to check your driving records for errors every so often.

How to Check Your Driving Record

Each state DMV allows you to order a copy of your driving record. 

Depending on where you live and whether or not you need to order a certified copy, you can do so in person, by mail, or online. 

The fee for ordering your driving record typically ranges from $2 to $20, or free in some circumstances. 

Find your state’s link below to order yours.

StateOrder Driving Record
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia
Washington DC

Out-of-State Tickets on Your Driving Record

Regardless of where you got a ticket or committed a traffic violation, your home state will be notified and your driving record will be updated accordingly. 

Each state and each insurance company participate in a nationwide database to track your 

That means you cannot drive in or apply for a license in another state with a suspended license. 

Learn more about out-of-state violations and suspensions and your driver’s license.

Incorrect Information on your Driving Record

Ordering a copy of your driving record is a good practice to catch mistakes. 

Errors on your driving record can be costly. Common errors include:

  • Being marked as “at fault” for a car accident you weren’t at fault for. 
  • Having points still listed that you had dismissed. 
  • Showing violations that you didn’t commit. 

If you find errors on your driving record, you’ll need to fill out a form and report them to the DMV. You may be required to submit additional paperwork to prove that error. 

What is a “Clean” Driving Record?

You can think of a clean driving record as an “excellent” rating on your credit score. 

A clean driving record means that you have no negative marks against you like moving violations, at-fault accidents, traffic tickets, or other driving records points. 

The main reasons why you want to try to maintain a clean driving record include:

  • Keeping your insurance rates as low as possible. 
  • Being able to get a job if your work involves driving. 
  • Being able to keep your license. 

What is considered a clean driving record for employment purposes?

If your potential employer is looking into your driving history, the definition of “clean” will typically depend on the nature of the work. 

Some employers may require you to have had no infractions at all within the past 3 to 7 years. 

Others may be okay if a couple minor traffic tickets show up on your driving record. 

In most situations, employers are simply looking for evidence that you are not a habitually unsafe driver. 

If you’ve only had a speeding ticket or a stop sign ticket, it will probably be okay. 

However, if you’ve committed a serious offense like DUI or hit and run, you may be disqualified. 

Driving Records & Car Insurance Rates

The most common way that a driving record affects every driver is the cost of their insurance premiums. 

Driving records are one of the primary things insurance companies use to determine how risky of a driver you are. 

If your driving record is clean, you will enjoy much cheaper insurance rates. 

If you have a history of tickets and continue to rack up driving records points, your insurance rates will go up. 

How Long do Points Stay on Your Driving Record

In most states, traffic violations and at-fault accidents take the form of points on your driving record. 

These points serve a few purposes, such as:

  • Helping insurance companies determine your rates.
  • Trigger a license suspension if you accumulate too many points within a certain amount of time. 
  • Telling employers whether you will be a responsible driver. 

Luckily, negative points on your driving record won’t follow you forever. 

In most cases, points will remain on your driving record for a period of 3, 5, or 7 years. 

More serious infractions such as DUI or reckless driving may stay on your record for up to 10 years or more. 

The length of time will depend on the nature of the infraction and whether or not you’ve taken steps to dismiss the points. 

If you accumulate too many points within a certain period of time, you will face a driver’s license suspension.

It’s also important to remember that you can accumulate driving record points for non-driving offenses too. Examples include unpaid tickets, failure to appear in court, and failing to pay child support.

How to Remove Points from Your Driving Record

There are essentially 3 main ways to reduce the number of points on your driving record:

  • Time. 
  • Getting the ticket dismissed.
  • Completing a voluntary defensive driving course. 

The first way to remove points is to simply wait. After about 3 to 5 years, most violations will stop working against your driving record. More serious violations will take longer to go away. 

Next, you may be able to get the ticket dismissed so that the associated points never appear on your driving record in the first place. This will depend on where the infraction occurred and will be up to the court to decide. 

Finally, some states allow you to complete a traffic school course to either remove points from your driving record or earn “safe driver” credits that will protect you from negative points. 

In the states where this is available, you’ll typically be able to complete a course to remove points once every 2 to 3 years. 

Learn more about traffic school and defensive driving to remove driving records points here.

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