You know that when you first applied for a license a record was started on you by your State's Department of Motor Vehicles but do you know what is on it. Take time to find out what your DMV record says about you as a driver. What is on my DMV record?
Drivers know that their state keeps a motor vehicle record (MVR) on them but not all motorists take the time to find out what information is kept on this driving record. What you do not know could hurt you in that you may think that points just drop off or a violation is taken off after only 3 years to find out that you still have points accumulating and that violations in your state remain on your driver's history for 5 years (or more).
State laws differ but all licensing authorities keep records on drivers. Normally your driving record starts with you getting your driver's license however if you get a moving violation without having a driver's license a state can still start up a driving record for your, usually based upon your Social Security number instead of a driver's license number.
What is placed and remains on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record depends upon state laws regarding the record keeping of the licensing authority. Normally one will have any moving violations they have received within a certain amount of time (the period varies by state) and DMV points that your state assigns to those violations. If too many points accumulate then usually the Department of Motor Vehicles will declare you a negligent driver or habitual offender and place penalties on you. It may be that you have to attend a driver improvement course or have your license suspended for a period. Alternatively, you may need to attend a hearing about your driving record to name a few penalties that states use.
Violations that are on your driving record can affect your employment (if you need to drive a company vehicle, are a CDL holder, etc), your insurance rates and your ability to keep your driving record. As mentioned earlier if you get too many violations or points on your record your state's licensing agency can suspend your license or take other steps to improve your abilities while operating a vehicle in hopes that you will become a safer driver. If you want a job where you need to drive or be on your company's car insurance policy you will normally be required to have a clean driving record. This means no violations or accidents for a certain period (5 to 10 years typically).
So how do you find out what is on your driving record? You contact your state's licensing authority. The Department of Motor Vehicles, or like state agency, is administrator of the motor vehicle records. The DMV is notified when you are convicted of a traffic infraction so that the violation and points, if your state has a points system, can be placed on your driving record. If the violation goes on by violation date or conviction, date depends upon your state laws. If you deferred your court date by months or years it could make a difference to you whether the violation goes on by the date, you received the ticket or when you were finally convicted of the offense.
Many states have a dropping off period for convictions and points. This means your offense will likely be taken off you MVR after a certain number of years. In some years, this is 3 years, in other states it is 5 or 7 years. In most states the more serious, the offense the longer offense stays on your record. So a simple speeding offense may come off in 3 years while a DUI stays for 10 years. Also in some states, while an offense or points may not be used against you after a certain amount of time, the offense remain on your driving record permanently. This is important to know, especially if you are applying for a job where an employer will see your driving record. If you forget to mention a speeding ticket or accident from 5 years ago and just assume that, it will not be on your MVR you may end up surprised when you are turned down for the job. Your potential employer finds out you did not tell them everything regarding your past traffic convictions when they see offenses listed on your driving record you omitted from your application.
From the traffic citations you have received in the past, you should have an idea of what is on your record but you need to know also what points are attached to these offenses. Points systems differ widely from state to state. In states that do have points systems normally once you reach a certain amount of points within a certain period of time, for example 12 points in 12 months, can earn you a suspension of your license. Therefore, if you think a speeding infraction only came with 3 points and it came with 6, you may be a lot closer to a suspension or hearing about your driving style then you are aware of.
The best way to find out what is on your record is to contact your DMV and get a copy of your motor vehicle record. You normally have to pay a small fee to get a copy of your record. You also have to determine which type of driving record you want to see. In many states there are multiple types of MVRs you can request, starting at 3 years up to a complete certified record going back as far as the state keeps records on you.
Do not be surprised if you traffic tickets you were convicted of out of state on your driving record. Technology has advanced so that now most states in the US are members of the Drivers License Compact (DLC) and can fairly quickly inform your home licensing agency of an out of state conviction. Some states add these offenses to your driving record, while others do not. Before driving out of state it is a good idea to find out what your state does. Also some states add points for out of state infractions while others do not, again it is important to know how your state handles moving violations from out of state before you pay a ticket on the false belief your home state will never find out about it.
Some states driving records are easy to read while others use various abbreviations for violations and dates. If you order a copy of your MVR only to be confused about what it says than contact your DMV for clarification. You may first want to look online at the DMV website since many know their driving records are hard for a motorist to read and thus give you tips or instructions on how to read your record.
In general a driving record will include the class and the current status of the driver's license, list endorsements and restrictions, suspensions and revocations, moving violation convictions (either listed by the date of the citation or conviction), points accrued and accidents (some states report only at-fault accidents while others just that there was an accident with no fault assigned). Some state's driving records may be more comprehensive for example in Florida a complete driving record (compare to only a 3 or 7-year record) includes the following on it:
- Driver license/identification card issuances, exams passed, driver education.
- All convictions for traffic violations appearing on the driver record.
- Crash entries, within 10 years of crash date, when a traffic citation was issued as a direct result of the accident.
- All open or closed suspensions, revocations, cancellations, disqualifications appearing on the driver history.
- All entries of traffic violations with disposition of adjudication withheld.
- Correspondence indicating license issued by another state.
- Correspondence indicating adjudication withheld (when not eligible or made election but did not complete).
- Correspondence regarding D-6s (non-CDL drivers) cleared after effective date
- Department approved correspondence.
No matter what state you are licensed in your driving record holds a lot of information and you need to be aware of what is exactly is on your MVR. This will help you from accumulating too many points, know what the court and employers can see about you, help jog your own memory about when you were convicted of violation, and be able to give correct information to an insurance company when applying for insurance.
Without knowing what is on your driving record you can hurt your chances for a job, get too many violations or points and get your license suspended and also get incorrect rate quotes for car insurance. With auto insurance you are rated in part on your MVR and if you give wrong information about it the quote, you are given will need to be re-calculated once the insurer views your driving record and finds offenses you left off your application. Be a smart driver on the road by steering clear of being convicted of moving violations if possible and be a smart motorist off by knowing what is on your own driving record.