There are a few different ways to get your driving record, including through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), through third-party websites that collect public records, and even through your insurance carrier. One good reason to get a copy of your driver record is to review it before you shop around for automobile insurance rates.
What is Driving Record?
A driver record or motor vehicle report (MVR) is a complete record of your driving history. It includes basic identification information about you, along with any driving infractions, accidents, and offenses. Driving records are public records, and you may have access to it, and parts of it may also be available to other organizations and individuals. Access to records depends on state laws.
Depending on the state and its driver privacy protection act (dppa), dmv records may be confidential, or portions of them may be available to anyone who requests them. If you agree to a background check, your record will most likely be included. Most states require your consent when providing driver records to outside parties.
What Types of Driver Records Are There?
There are several different types of driver records, such as driving abstracts, uncertified and certified records, driver’s license status information, set-year records, and complete driving history records. Depending on where you live and drive, each state has specific laws and keeps different records.
- Driving Abstract - used most often by the courts and law enforcement, these reports are a summary of all moving violations, accidents, and driver’s license infractions. It may span a few years.
- Uncertified Records - typically, uncertified records are for personal use and may not contain some private details about you.
- Certified Records - a certified copy of records are provided by the state DMV or agency in charge of records and are usually a full report of all offenses. These reports may be used for legal and court-ordered purposes.
- Driver's License Status Records - driver’s license records pertain specifically to the state of your license, whether or not it is suspended or active.
- Set-year Records - some states allow you to pull a set-year record so you can see any violations over a 3, 5, or 7-year period, depending on what you need.
- Complete Driving History - a complete driving history report will include everything including all citations, traffic tickets, accidents, violations, and license suspensions.
What Does a Driver Record Include?
A driver record includes a lot of personal information, including your basic details, along with all your moving violations, citations, traffic tickets, and other offenses. The most common information found on an MVR is:
- Date of birth
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Social security number
- Driver license number, status, expiration date, issue date, and classification
- Driver’s license points
- License suspensions
- Traffic tickets
- Parking tickets
- Speeding tickets
- Driving violations and convictions
A driver record will not include any other criminal violations or history that do not pertain to driving.
How to Get a Driving Record from the DMV?
Getting your driving record from the DMV is easy; you just have to submit a record request form. So, if you are wondering how to check my driving record from the DMV? The answer is easy. You can contact them through their website, in person, or through the mail and request a full copy of your driving file. You will have to provide proof of identity and fill out a form. Most states also charge a fee for this service, and they typically do not accept credit cards, so you must have cash, check, or money order. You may be able to pick it up at the local office, or they may agree to mail it to you. They do not offer expedited processing, so you might have to wait if there is a heavy backlog.
How Far Back Does my Driving Record Go?
How long things stay on your driving record depends on the state and other factors. Typically, offenses may remain on your record for three years but may last up to ten years. However, in some cases, depending on the severity of the crimes, like DUIs that affect public safety, they may stay on there forever. If that begs that question, how long do points stay on your driving record? The answer is the same; it depends on the seriousness of the driving violation and the state laws. Things like vehicular manslaughter and multiple DUIs, especially if they resulted in an accident where someone got hurt, may affect your driving history for life.
How to Get a Copy of Your Driving Report?
You should know how to get your vehicle record, and there are three simple ways:
- Contact Your Local DMV
Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles office in your state and ask for a copy. You will need to fill out a form, pay a fee, and provide ID. Generally, the cost of a driving report is only about $10. A DMV office does not accept credit cards, so bring cash, check, money order, or debit card to pay. They may allow you to wait for it or mail it to you. They do not offer expedited services, and if there is a backlog, you may wait a while. They may also offer online services where you can register to access your report. Check your state's .gov website.
- Third-Party Online Public Records Companies
There are various online public records portals where you can request records and easily get a copy of your own history. You may have to pay a nominal fee for this service, but you might be able to get some basic automobile information for free.
- Contact Your Insurance Agent
Insurance companies base their rates on driving reports, so they have access to your records. They can usually provide you with an unofficial/uncertified report upon request. Not all agents offer free reports, but many can and will provide you with the details you need.
Why Get Your Driving Record?
There are a lot of reasons to keep a clean driving history. However, it may be difficult to remember things that happened a long time ago. When shopping for new auto insurance, you will want to know if there are any skeletons lurking in your closet for the agent to find. Another reason to get a copy of your driving record is if you apply for a job where they perform a background check. It’s better if you know ahead of time what is on that report so you can be ready with an explanation. If you go to court, you may need to produce a copy of your driving record. Having too many points on your driving history could result in losing your license, so it’s critical to know where you stand so you can make some smart choices.
Another good reason to get a copy is to review it for accuracy. Some public records stored online contain errors. You will want to check your driving history report for any inaccuracies and get them corrected immediately.
If you have points on your driver’s license or identification card, you could take a safe driving course to remove them or apply for a license reinstatement—another excellent reason to check out your report to see what is on there.