Many countries keep a record of their license holders’ driving history. As a driver, it would be helpful to keep a regular check of your driving record. This will keep you informed of any fines or suspension of driving privileges that have been charged on you. It will also help you correct any misinformation on your driving record.
There are many ways in which you can keep track of your driving record. Read on to find out how you can get your hands on your driving history.
Point System for Driving
A lot of countries, including the US, follow a point-based driving system. Traffic violations are assigned points based on their severity. Once your accumulated points cross a certain threshold your license can be suspended or even revoked.
Usually, it’s government agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles or licensing authorities that keep track of your violations according to this point system. Sometimes the police force may also be in charge of maintaining these records.
This point system is helpful in keeping track of repeat offenders and consistently reckless drivers and keeping them off our roads.
Motor Vehicle Record
A motor vehicle record, also known as a driving record, is a record of your driving history and information about your driver’s license.
This information is recorded and maintained by the motor vehicle department of each state or an equivalent authority. Generally, they keep records for a period of 3 to 10 years. This varies from state to state.
Why Is Your Driving Record Important?
You can use check your driving record for personal reasons, like keeping track of your fines or violations or to ensure that your license has not been suspended for any reason.
Driving records can also be accessed and used by prospective employers and insurance companies.
Employers can get hold of your driving records to a background screening, especially if it’s for a job that requires you to drive around. Because of privacy laws in place, employers cannot directly access this information. They will most likely ask for your consent or use third-party services that adhere to the privacy regulations in order to access your driver’s record.
Insurance companies use your driving records to calculate premiums. They use your history to find out the level of risk that you pose to them. So if you’re someone who frequently gets into accidents or traffic violations, they might hike up your vehicle insurance premium.
What Does a Motor Vehicle Record Include?
A driving record includes personal information about the driver as well the driver’s driving history for three years or more depending on state policy.
- Date of birth
- Eye and hair color
- Weight and height
- License Status: Your driving record will show any past suspensions, revocations or cancellations of your license. It will also show the current status of your license.
- Endorsements: These are special permissions that you can obtain to carry certain goods or drive special kinds of vehicles that do not fall under the purview of your commercial driver’s license.
- Class of Driver’s License: If you have a special commercial license this can come in different classes. Your driving record will specify the class of vehicle that you are permitted to drive.
- Restrictions: You may have restrictions placed on your license that curtail some of your driving freedoms. Restrictions may be imposed for medical reasons or because of too many DUIs or traffic violations.
- Traffic Violations: Driving records include information about your traffic citations, vehicular crimes, accident reports and driving under the influence (DUI) convictions.
- Driving Record Point: Many states keep track of your traffic violations using a point system to keep track of reckless drivers. The points that you have accumulated will show up on your driving record.
Where Can I Get a Copy of My Driving Record?
Your driving records are maintained by the state from which you have obtained your driver’s license.
Each state has different policies that lay down what goes into someone’s driving record. Some states follow a point system whereby each violation is allotted certain points that are reflected in your record. Some states do not have point systems, they just note down the violations in your driver’s record as and when they arise.
Organizations That Provide Driver’s Records
State Organization Websites
One way of getting hold of your driver’s records is through the government organizations that are in charge of maintaining these records.
Some state organizations maintain an online database containing the driver’s record information. Some states don’t provide your records online. You might need to fill out some forms and mail them to the state departments to get your copy.
Each state operates according to its own policies so make sure you check out the procedures relevant to your state on these official websites.
Some of the state organizations you can approach are the following:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Office of the Secretary of State
- State Department of Revenue
- Department of Public Safety
- Motor Vehicle Division
Another way to get hold of a copy of your driver’s record is through third-party services or private companies that act as a middleman between you and the state organization.
These sites are often easier to navigate than state websites. The steps are laid down more clearly and conveniently.
People choose these services because they don’t want to navigate through the red tape that is inevitable when dealing with state organizations.
A disadvantage of using these sites is that the records you obtain from these sources are not certified. This is fine if you just want to access your records for personal use.
You will need a certified copy of your driver’s records for official or legal proceedings. In this case, you have no option but to go through the state machinery.
Do I Have to Pay for My Driver’s Records?
The short answer is—yes, you do have to pay a fee in order to get a copy of your motor vehicle record.
The fees charged changes from state to state. Many states charge $10 or less. Some states might charge more but you can easily get your driver’s record under $20.
Most of the time, third-party service providers offer more efficient and convenient services than state departments. Naturally, they end up charging more than state organizations for getting you your driver’s records.
How Can I Apply for My Driver’s Record Online?
Using State Websites
The first step is finding out which department in your state maintains drivers’ records. You can use your internet skills and find the official website of this state department. You can make sure you’re on the official site by checking if the domain name ends in .gov.
It might be a little difficult to navigate these government sites. You might need to search the website top to bottom to find out which section you need to go to. But do not give up!
Once you’ve landed on the application page you will need to provide them your personal information like your name and license number.
After this, you need to pay the stipulated fee. This can also vary depending on the format of the driver’s record you choose. Some websites will let you view unofficial records for free online. The fees might also vary for certified and uncertified copies.
Sometimes you might find that your state does not provide driver’s records online. In this case, they most probably tell you how you can apply for one. It might either be through post or a telephone call or you might even need to go to the DMV in person.
Using Third-Party Sites
Using these sites is often more convenient and time saving. They are easier to navigate. There will be an option to choose the state that issued your driving license. After this, the procedure is mostly the same.
Some states do not make their driver’s records available through such third-party sites. In these cases, the site will redirect you to the official state website.
Third-party sites are great if you want an unofficial and uncertified record for personal use. But if you want a certified record for official purposes stick to state websites.
Can I Correct an Incorrect Driver’s Record?
It is always good to check out what’s on your driver’s records regularly. If there is some incorrect information on your record it could significantly drive up your insurance costs.
Correcting your motor vehicle record is not an easy task though.
If you have been wrongly convicted, you will need to send certified court transcripts to the DMV in order to remove these convictions from your record.
Most states require you to fill out detailed forms online to correct mistakes on your driver’s record.
As a new driver, you might have a hard time keeping track of all the rules and regulations you need to follow. You might mess up along the way without even realizing it.
It is always good to check out your driver’s record once in a while to see if you have been charged with any citations or traffic violations and make sure you aren’t driving around with a suspended license.