What is a Driving Record?

Your driving record – or Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) – includes information about you, your driver’s license, and any traffic incidents in your past. Auto insurance companies use your driving record (among other factors) to determine your premium and deductible rates. Below we cover what is on your driving record, how to obtain a driving record, and a few tips and tricks to help ensure your record stays clean.

You should obtain a copy of your MVR before shopping for insurance so that you can check it for inaccuracies and know what to expect from insurance companies.

What goes on your Driving Record?

While the specifics of what information is stored on your Motor Vehicle Report depend on your state, driver records generally contain personal information about you, your driver’s license, and your recent traffic violations (if any).

Some specifics that go on your MVR are:

  • Your age and date of birth
  • Your height and weight
  • Your gender
  • Your eye and hair color
  • Current status of your driver’s license
  • Any suspensions, cancellations, or revocations of your driver’s license in the past
  • Your driver’s license’s class, special endorsements, and restrictions
  • Any traffic citations you’ve received
  • Any vehicular crimes for which you were convicted
  • Accident reports in which you were involved
  • The points on your driving record (given specifically for moving traffic violations)
  • Any DUI convictions

Usually, traffic violations only stay on your record for some set amount of time. How far back your MVR looks varies from state to state. However, many insurance companies choose to look only at the last five years of your driving history even if your driving record has information from further in the past.

Some violations–DUI convictions, for example–can stay on your MVR longer than others. The easiest  and fastest way to find out how long a specific traffic violation will stay on your record is to ask your insurance agent.

Checking your Driving Record

There are two main ways to get a copy of your MVR:

  1. Directly from the State — simply search for your state’s driver’s license agency online. They should have instructions on how to request a copy of your driver record, but doing so will usually cost a small fee. This is the least expensive option. If you cannot find these instructions online (or if your state does not have digital retrieval of MVRs), you may have to go in to your local driver’s licensing office to request a physical copy.
  2. Online from a Third Party — there are some third-party services which will retrieve a copy of your driving record for you. These services are instant and convenient, but they usually cost more than going directly through the state. However, be conscientious about the legitimacy and reputability of any online service you go through – some sites may appear to be legitimate but are really only after your credit card information.
Be very wary of website offering “free” retrieval of your driver record. These sites are almost always trying either to trick you into buying some “full” product, to collect information about you, or to infect your computer with malware.

You should make sure to obtain a recent, accurate copy of your MVR before shopping for insurance so that you can have a better idea of what to expect from insurance companies. This will also let you check its accuracy and correct any discrepancies before getting quotes from insurance companies. Checking your MVR is especially important if you’ve recently taken action to get points taken off your record (for example, by taking an optional Driver’s Education course).

You can get a certified or uncertified copy of your driving record – both contain the same information, but certified copies are really only necessary for certain official processes (such as background checks). If you only need your driving record for insurance purposes, you should be fine ordering an uncertified copy.

What is your Motor Vehicle Report Used For?

Your driving record is used alongside other factors to determine your auto insurance premium and deductible rates. As a rule of thumb, a better driving record means a better premium. In fact, a really bad record may mean that most insurance companies will not cover you. If this is the case, you may need to turn to the Non-Standard Auto Insurance Market. For specific information on how your MVR affects your premium prices, see our page on Auto Insurance Risk Selection.

Your driving record is also examined as a part of standard background checks. Because of this, some employers check potential employees’ MVRs. Many court proceedings also require you to present a certified version of your MVR.