How long do tickets stay on your record?
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How long do tickets stay on your record?

It is common question that we receive - how long will my ticket stay on my driving record? There is not a blanket answer since each state has its own laws regarding how long a violation associated with a ticket or citation will remain on a driver's record.

In general, most states allow convictions for moving violations to remain on your driver's record for three, five, seven or 10 years. If the ticket was for something minor, such as failure to stop at a stop sign, it may stay on your record for less time than a major offense. If the violation was more serious, for something such as driving under the influence (DUI), states typically keep this offense on your record for a longer period of time. Some states keep it on your driver's history permanently.

Ultimately your driving record determines your potential risk to a car insurance company. One ticket may cost you a good driver discount; more than that may actually raise your rates or bring a premium surcharge.

Following are some examples of how long convictions of violations that drivers are ticketed for will stay on a person's driving record.

In California:

  • Most traffic offense convictions will remain on your record for three years from the violation date and count as 1 point.
  • Accidents are reported for 3 years from the accident date. If you are found to be at fault, the accident normally counts as 1 point.
  • Other more serious traffic offenses, such as hit-and-run or reckless driving, will remain on a California driver's MVR for seven years from the violation date and count as 2 points.
  • The reporting period for DUI offenses is 10 years for all public requestors, including insurance companies.

Another example is Virginia. When you are convicted of a traffic violation, the court notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which does the following:

  • Posts the conviction to your driving record.
  • Assigns you demerit points according to the severity of the offense.
  • Issues an order of suspension, if applicable.
  • Issues an order requiring the successful completion of a driver improvement clinic, if applicable.
  • Notifies your insurance company upon request.

Tickets normally can stay on a Virginia driving record from three years to 11 years, however if you are convicted of a serious violation it will remain on your MVR permanently.

So the length of time that a conviction stays on your VA driving record depends on the severity of the violation. If you receive an order or notice of revocation, suspension, disqualification or cancellation, your convictions could remain on your record for even longer.

In some states violations from a citation conviction remain on your record but no longer count towards your points total or habitual offender status after a few years, usually three, but again this varies by state.

Florida statutes authorize the DMV for Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV), to establish and maintain the management of driving records. The HSMV notes that convictions reflecting point assessments remain on a customer's complete driver history record for a period of 10 years from the date of conviction. However, serious convictions (DUI, DUI/Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, etc.) will remain on the record for 75 years.

Points are subject to different rules in most states. In Florida, points placed on your Florida driver's license due to traffic violations stay on your record and are counted against you for three years for insurance purposes. Points can continue to accumulate on your record beyond those three years though so the state can keep track and impose penalties if necessary.

In Florida, if you accumulate three major offenses or 15 minor offenses, for which you receive points for, within a five year period, your Florida license can be revoked. If you have amassed this amount of points and offenses within five years you are termed by the HSMV to be a habitual traffic offender (HTO).

Insurance companies typically look back at your record for a period of three to five years depending upon what the state insurance regulatory body allows and an insurance company's guidelines. In some states however there are laws that limit how far back the insurance company can "look back" to determine rates, even if the violation remains on your MVR for a longer period of time.

One state that has such a law is Montana. According to the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) your driving record here is a lifetime record. Traffic convictions stay on your driving record for life. Montana law restricts how some aspects of a driving record may be utilized or applied. For example, in accordance with Montana laws, conviction information older than three years that is derived solely from a driving record may not be used to affect your insurance rates or insurance eligibility.

Since state laws vary, to get a definitive answer on how long a conviction for a moving violation ticket stays on your driving record, you will need to contact your specific state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV should be able to give a driver not only information on the state laws and how long violations remain on a MVR but allow you to request a copy of your driving record so you can see what violations and points you have accumulated on it thus far.

A periodic check of your record can ensure that anything listed, and that could affect your driver's license or insurance rates, is correct. Not all driving records contain your total driving history. Some states have shortened records that do not show violations that have been dismissed by the courts or by attending traffic school.

To make certain that you are getting the most comprehensive driver's history, order a complete record. These records in some states go back 11 years and show all citations, including those dismissed and tickets issued by other states. If you find an error on the record you will need to contact the Division of Driver's License, usually the DMV, for your state.

States keep motor vehicle records, termed a MVR by most insurance carriers, on all drivers. You do not even need to be licensed in order to have a motor vehicle record started for you. If you drive without a license and are stopped and convicted of a moving violation then a state can start a record on you using your social security number instead of a driver's license number if you have never been licensed.

Having a good driving record, free of moving violations and points, can help you get better auto insurance rates and even a good driver discount. In some states you can improve your driving record by taking traffic school or a driver improvement class. Your DMV will be able to give you information on if such programs are available in your state or specific area of a state.


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