A clean driving record is one that is free of accidents, moving violations or points. Car insurance companies also like a record that is free of claims.

If you are in the market for a new job (or a new insurance company) you may have seen or heard the term “clean driving record” and wondered what that means. Here we’ll review what most employers mean when they use that term, and provide a few tips on how to clean your driving record.

Key Highlights
  • A driver with a clean driving record has no tickets, moving offences, or accidents on their record. 
  • Here, we’ll go over what most companies understand by that phrase and offer some advice on how to clear up your driving history. 
  • Never misrepresent your driving history, even if you are unsure of what constitutes a clean record; a prospective employer or insurer will undoubtedly find out. 
  • Go to court for disputed tickets: Most of the time, drivers don’t challenge a ticket, even if they believe it may have been disputed or if they have aggravating circumstances that should be considered. 
  • Take a defensive driving course: To keep a ticket or points off your driving record, several states enable you to enroll in a defensive driving school. 

What is a clean driving record?

A clean and clear driving record will result in the best rates when it comes to your insurance premium and not present any problems if a background check (for a new job) is in your future.

Here is a quick list of items you should keep off your record if you want what is considered a good driving record:

  • Accidents
  • Minor moving violations such as speeding tickets
  • Major violations such as DUI or reckless driving
  • Points on your license

Employers (and even insurers) have different definitions of “clean” when it comes to driving records. While some employers might insist on a completely clean record, others may be let one speeding ticker, or minor traffic violation, slide.

While a clean driving record should be everyone’s goal, it’s not always everyone’s reality. Tickets, and accidents can hit your record over the years and can impact your insurance rates, pushing them up.

Do I have a clean driving record if I have a speeding ticket?

Both insurance companies and employers have different policies when it comes to a clean driving record. In most cases, one speeding ticket will not prevent you from getting the job or an insurance policy.

However, it is hard to know exactly what is considered a bad driving record when it comes to employers. The majority of employers (and insurers) are looking for drivers that have not been charged with a serious driving infraction, think DUI, reckless driving or excessive speeding. They also avoid drivers that come with a long history of minor violations. If you have numerous speeding tickets on your record you could have an issue.

It should be noted that every employer and insurer has its own policies in place, so in some cases, one single speeding ticket may breach their standards.

Never lie about a clean driving record

Even if you are confused about what is considered a clean driving record, never lie about your driving record, a potential employer or insurer will absolutely find out. While many employers may overlook a single speeding ticket, they won’t overlook one that you lied about.

Always be truthful on job or insurance applications, if you are caught in a lie your odds of getting the job are pretty low.

Can you clear your driving record?

You might not be able to completely clear your driving record, for instance if you already have an accident or serious moving violation like a DUI on your record, you won’t be able to simply erase those. However, you can check your record for errors, and fix any you may find, and there are ways to prevent minor offenses from being tacked on to your record. Giving your driving record a good scrubbing is not as hard as you might think and could help lower your insurance costs or help you snag that dream job. Here are a few tips on how to remove violations from driving record:

Deal with any “fix-it” tickets: This is low hanging fruit that is easy to fix and get off of your driving record. If you have ever gotten a ticket for a broken taillight, not having your driver’s license with you or another easily fixed issue, deal with the ticket as soon as possible. This can move the ticket off of your driving record, so it doesn’t impact your insurance rates.

Go to court over questionable tickets:  In most cases, drivers don’t contest a ticket, even if they feel it may have been questionable or they have mitigating factors that should be considered. According to data from the National Motorists Association, only one out of 20 drivers contests their ticket.

Going to court can give you time to explain any circumstances that may have contributed to your ticket, you were on your way to the hospital due to an emergency, you were picking up your child from school after they were injured or any other factor that could be considered. In addition, if the police officer who issued the ticket fails to show up to court, many judges will dismiss the ticket.

While going to court can be a hassle, it often results in a dismissed or reduced ticket which is great for your insurance premium.

Request a deferment: If you just received a ticket you may be able to request a deferment by going to court or contacting the clerk of courts or magistrate. If a deferment is granted, you must pay a fee (typically $100 to $150) and stay ticket-free for the deferment period, which is typically one year. If you manage to do this, your ticket will not show up on your driving record.

However, if you do get another ticket during the deferment period, the deferment will end and the old ticket as well as the new ticket will hit your driving record and your insurance rates will increase.

Take a defensive driving course: Many states allow you to take a defensive driving course to keep a ticket or points off of your driving record. This can only be used for minor tickets such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign, it is not a possibility if you were cited for reckless driving, a DUI or other major infraction. Contact your DMV to see if this is a possibility in your state and to get a list of approved courses.

Ask for an expungement: In some states you can ask for a violation to be expunged from your record instead of waiting for the points to drop off of your driving record. As an example, in Maryland you can ask for certain violations to be expunged off your record after three years, as long as you have been violation free since.

Review a copy of your driving record and fix any errors: Insurance companies look at several factors when setting rates and your driving record is one of the most important. If it’s inaccurate, you could be paying more than you should. Check your driving record to be sure it’s accurate and make any corrections if needed.

How long will a ticket impact your car insurance premium?

Tickets and points affect your driving record in various ways, depending on your state laws, the severity of the violation and your insurance company.

That’s why there is no definitive answer to this, but in most circumstances, expect minor traffic violations to ding your rates for three to five years. If you have a serious offense, such as a DUI or reckless driving, it will stay on your record for much longer, typically 10 years, in some cases longer.

The premium bump can vary dramatically depending on your insurer. Some insurers may not surcharge (raise your rates) for a minor speeding ticket while others may raise your premium by 20% to 30% or more. On the other hand, a more serious violation such as a DUI or reckless driving, will easily double your rates. A DUI conviction raises rates, on average, by 79%, while reckless driving violations hike rates by 73%, according to a CarInsurance.com rate analysis.