Remember back when they told you in school that the bad things you did were going to show up on your “permanent record?” While I’m not sure if such a document actually existed in school, but the state sure keeps one—your driving record. In nearly every state, a detailed record of your driving history is kept. This record is referenced by the state, your insurance company, and even potential employers. Knowing the type of information reported on that record, and what your record says about you is important.
Drivers should check their driving records periodically to check the accuracy of the information it contains. A regular review will provide vital information such as the current status of your license and whether the record properly reports your identifying data. Having a healthy driving record can protect your driving privileges, assist in the purchase of affordable auto insurance, and maybe even secure employment. Yes, some employers review your driving history as part of the interview process.
What Shows on Your Record?
No matter where you live, records are kept of your driving history. These records typically go back three years or more. Here are most of the main details included on that record.
- Penalties—Any points or fines received from citations or accidents.
- License Information—Your basic license information such as the number, the type of license, and any restrictions or endorsements.
- Identifying Information—Your name, address, and maybe even a brief description of your appearance (height, weight, etc.).
- Accidents—Any accidents that you have been in will be documented if there was a police report or insurance claim filed.
- Driving Violations—Any tickets or driving violations are going to be listed in your driving records. This will likely affect the insurance premium that you receive.
Three Important Reasons Why You Should Know What’s on Your Driving Record
1) Protect Your Right to Drive
Most minor infractions will eventually disappear from your record either because their shelf life expired or through the completion of an approved traffic course. When these problem spots don’t disappear, more issues can stack up. Too many points on a driving record can lead to a license suspension, putting you at risk of citations and vehicle impoundment. You may also face the further expense of additional fines and fees and the possibility of towing charges. Worse yet, you are also in danger of converting your suspended license into a revoked license meaning that your driving privileges are forever removed.
2) A Clean Record Keeps Your Insurance Premiums Low
Your driving history is a powerful determining factor when it comes to car insurance rates. Current and potential providers will examine your record carefully, and speeding tickets, car accidents, and license suspensions or revocations will leave you paying premiums that are higher than normal. Sometimes the insurance companies will deem a driver to be too high risk and will refuse to extend coverage.
If you have legitimate infractions on your driving record, obtaining auto insurance may be difficult. You may wish to explore the following options:
- Shop around and compare quotes online. As long as a company is licensed to sell insurance in your state, you can become a policyholder. Don’t limit yourself to just your local neighborhood.
- Ask about insurance programs that your state offers for high-risk drivers that cannot find coverage in the voluntary market.
- Investigate if your state offers a self-insurance option
3) Using Your Good Driving Record to Land a Job
Sometimes potential employers will look at an applicant’s driving record as part of the hiring process. Naturally, the likelihood that this review will happen increases dramatically involves driving, especially a vehicle owned by the company. Prepare ahead of time by checking your driving record before you apply. Then, contact the DMV to learn how to correct false or outdated information, or get a list of requirements that must be met to clear your license record.
Getting a Copy of Your Driving Record
If you want to know what is on your record, you can find out by ordering a copy for yourself. You can request a copy from your local DMV office or directly from your state’s motor vehicle website. Expect to pay a small processing fee.
Just like your credit report, a driving record is best when it’s clean. Of course, you can keep it that way by avoiding accidents and citations. If you have had points added for these reasons, many states allow point reduction for drivers who voluntarily complete a defensive driving or traffic school course. Even if your record is clean, taking a defensive driving course may still be a good idea as many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who have completed a course.