What is a driving record and what effects it? (Full Answer)

If you get into an accident or get a speeding ticket, the violation does not simply disappear once it is compensated by filing an insurance claim or paying a fee. The violation is recorded on your driving record, which stays with the DMV of your state.

What Is a Driving Record?

Also called an MVR or motor vehicle report, a driving record has a collection of all your public driving records including information such as your mailing address, tickets, accidents, license suspensions, etc. Every driver has a driving record from the minute he/she is granted a driving license.

What Does the Driving Record Contain?

A driving record has all the information about you as a driver and also your driving history. Driving records contain information about your:

  • Driving license status
  • Expiration date of your driving license
  • License endorsements/classifications
  • Traffic accidents
  • DUI/DWI convictions
  • Driving points
  • Moving violation convictions
  • Unpaid fines
  • Unpaid fees and citations
  • Defensive driving courses attended

Your driving record records all traffic violations and any black marks, right up to your last ticket. Different violations stay on your motor vehicle record for varying periods of time. Some states maintain a point system that keeps track of your driving violations. And, over a particular number of points can cause your driving license to be suspended or canceled. Each state has different rules, so make sure to check the driving laws in the state where you live.

How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay on Your Driving Record?

All the details about your driving go into your driving record including tickets issued to you, accidents, etc. The driving record will have all details of any accident that you’re in, regardless of whether you caused the accident or not. Your driving record can be accessed by people, including insurers, who can see and determine if the accident was your fault or not.

As mentioned earlier, different violations stay on your driving record for varying periods of time. For instance, a speeding ticket is a small incident, which remains on your driving record for 3 years, while much more serious offenses such as DUI (driving under the influence) or hit-and-run accidents can stay on your record for around 10 years or even more, depending on the state.

States like California use a points system and violations like tickets and accidents can remain on your driving record for 3 years and 3 months, while major offenses remain on your record for 13 years.

How to Check Your Driving Record?

If you want to check whether your driving record has any tickets or accidents showing, you can check your record with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or your state. Depending on the state that you live in, you can request a copy of your record either by mail, online or in person.

You can request a copy of your driving record from the DMV. There may be a fee charged by the DMV to obtain an official copy of your driving record. However, several states allow you the option of viewing the unofficial copy of your driving record online free of cost.

Why Should You Check Your Driving Record?

Your driving record may have mistakes and so, it is a good idea to check it to ensure that it is accurate. For instance, if you went to traffic school to reduce points due to a violation, but this does not reflect in your driving record. Or, it is possible that you may have been marked as being at fault for something that was not your fault. Checking your driving record after an accident is resolved or every year can keep it up to date.

Also, before shopping for your insurance, it is a good idea to check your driving record and check that there are no mistakes. If you have received a few tickets or caused an accident, this will not only reflect in your driving record but also affect your insurance premiums.

Typically, most states have clear rules about how such violations affect your driving license status and racking up too many points can cause your license to be suspended or even canceled.

How to Correct Any Mistake in Your Driving Record?

If you do find a mistake in your driving record, it is possible to fix it. If you are involved in an accident, whether an actual collision or a minor misfortune, make sure that you have all the paperwork related to the incident at hand, including court resolutions, insurance judgments, payments, etc.

If you find a mistake in your driving record, contact the DMV immediately and explain the error and how to fix it. Each state has a specific procedure to fix errors in reports. Some DMVs may ask you to submit your dispute in writing, while others may ask you to come in to resolve the issue.

How to Get a Clean Driving Record?

The easiest way to ensure a clean driving record is to drive safely. However, sometimes mistakes can happen and you may wonder how to clean up your driving record. The process for removing violations from your driving record differs from one state to another. Here are a few things that you can do to clean up your driving record:

  • Attend Driving School: If you receive a speeding ticket, as an alternative to adding points to your driving record, several states offer the option of attending driving classes or courses.
  • Pay Your Fines on Time: Left for a long time, fines and penalties pile up and become worse. Before they worsen, ensure that you pay off any pending fines or penalties.
  • Contest Driving Tickets: It may be worth your while to contest your ticket if you feel that you have a chance. This could mean convincing the court that there were circumstances that you can explain or that you were wrongly named. This can reduce your penalties or maybe even dismiss them completely.
  • Wait it Out: The points from your driving record are removed after a particular period of time in some states and so, it is just a question of waiting it out.
  • Check with Your DMV: In your state, there may be certain ways by which you can clean up your driving record. So, you could check with your DMV to see if you can do anything. 

How Does Your Driving Record Affect Your Insurance Premiums?

Most of us are aware that traffic violations not only affect our driving record, but they also mean higher insurance rates. But how long the rate increase will last depend on many factors like:

The Insurance Company

Every insurance company handles violations differently. For minor violations, some companies may go back two years, while others may go back three years from the incident. If you don’t have any violations or accidents for 5 years, most insurance companies offer a good driver discount and if you’re generally a safe driver, some companies even offer accident forgiveness.

Type of Violation

The amount of time that the insurance company surcharges your insurance policy depends on the type of traffic violation. DUI and careless driving are among the worst offenses and on average, the insurance rate will increase by around 73% for reckless driving and 79% for DUI. Failure to stop and speeding will raise the rates by around 20%.

You may have to wait for around 5 years for the violation points to be cleared from your driving record. For violations like DUI, you may have to wait for around 10 years. Most insurance companies can view your entire driving history; however, most of them only surcharge for points that have accrued in the last 5 years.

State of Residence

Depending on your violation and the state you live in, the points usually fall off your driving record in 2-3 years. For example, if you live in Nevada, most points fall off your record in 1 year and if you get a serious violation like a DUI, you will not get any points, but your driving license will be suspended.

While, in California, points for most traffic violations remain on your record for 3 years; however, for DUI or hit-and-run accidents, the points will remain on your record for 13 years. 

Being a Good Driver Can Benefit You

Being a safe driver is extremely important. Always be cautious, alert and present at the wheel when driving. This will enable you to drive less recklessly and you are less likely to get into an accident and will result in lower insurance premiums.

Many insurance companies offer incentives if you are a safe driver. For drivers who have been free of any violations or accidents for 3 to 5 years, insurance companies offer a good driver discount.

Apart from getting a discount, being a good driver helps to keep you and others safe on the road. You can also take up a defensive driving class if you want to improve your driving skills. Some insurance companies even offer a discount on the defensive driving course, while some offer a discount after you have taken the class.

Your driving record contains all your important personal information and is also a reflection of your driving history. The information in your driving record can affect your financial future. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your driving record and the information on how many points you have on your record can help to inspire you to be a better driver.

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