Driver’s License Check: What’s On Your Driving Record
Few things are as important to your insurance rates as your driving record and the points against you. Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute points out that your driving record is an important factor in how much you pay for auto insurance, and he advises drivers to periodically obtain a copy. A driver’s license check is easily obtained, often for about $10 or less. It’s usually accessible online, and checking your record may reveal errors.
Below, we’ll help you understand why it’s important, what to look for, and what you can do if you find problems.
What Does Your Driving Record Include?
Driving records, also known as MVRs (motor vehicle reports) and driving abstracts, can be a factor in background checks, employment decisions, and court proceedings. Insurance companies look to them to evaluate your driving habits. So it’s important for you to know what’s on your own record.
Items that can be found on your driving record include:
- Driver’s license status
- License classifications and endorsements
- Driving points
- DUI/DWI convictions
- Fees and citations owed
- Expiration date of license
- Traffic accidents
- Moving violation convictions and fines
- Safe and defensive driving courses attended
State privacy laws protect this information. In most cases anyone who wants to view your data must first receive your permission. If someone like a potential employer wants a copy of your driving record, you must provide written permission with your signature. In the case of an insurance company there is an “implied need” that doesn’t require written permission. However, the insurer agrees to keep the information private and to only use the information for business purposes.
As you research your driving record and points, remember that there are other reports available to you that insurance companies refer to when pricing insurance:
- CLUE Report – a summary of your car insurance claims history
- Insurance Score – based on your credit history and tailored to the needs of the insurance industry.
How Driving Points Work
Motor vehicle departments in most states will score your driving record by assigning “points” for each piece of negative information. Each state uses its own system, but in all states with this system points are assigned based on the severity of any moving violation.
- In California, for example, minor offenses such as running a stop sign will add one point and remain on your record for three years. More serious offenses such as hit and run or DUI/DWI will add two points and remain for seven years.
- In New York points range from three for failure to obey a stop sign, up to eleven points for more serious offenses. In New York, points generally expire eighteen months after the violation, but severe violations will remain longer.
Accumulate too many points in a specified period of time and bad things happen (check the table below for your state):
- Driver’s license probation or suspension
- Less leniency in traffic court
- Higher insurance rates
- Designated “high risk” to insure
Over time, points from old violations will expire. Some states also allow you to earn “safe driving points” that cancel out points from violations. In Utah, for example, driving for a year without incident removes one negative point from your record. Virginia allows safe drivers to earn positive points that will cancel out points assigned in future violations.
How to Check Your Driving Record
The easiest and fastest way to see your report is through your local DMV or state driver’s licensing office. Many states make driving records available online, but if you need an official record for court or employment you’ll generally have to order one through the mail or request it in person. Costs range from $2 to $25 for official copies of your driving record. Avoid third party sources of your driving record who charge more than your DMV will charge.
The table below introduces each state’s points system and has links to the instructions for obtaining a copy of your driving record. The table also shows:
- The maximum and minimum points assigned for traffic violations in each state.
- The number of accrued points that will trigger a hearing for a license suspension or an automatic suspension, depending on the state. Please note that some states have stricter rules for drivers under age 18.
|State||Check Your Driving Record||Points for Minor Violation||Points for Major Violation||What Will Get My Driver's License Suspended?|
|Alabama||Alabama Law Enforcement Agency||2||6||12 points in 12 months|
|Alaska||Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles||2||10||12 points in 12 months
18 points in 24 months
|Arizona||Service Arizona||2||8||8 points in 12 months|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration||2||8||balance of 14 points|
|California||California Department of Motor Vehicles||1||2||4 points in 12 months
6 points in 24 months
8 points in 36 months
|Colorado||Colorado Department of Revenue||4||12||12 points in 12 months
18 points in 24 months
|Connecticut||Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles||1||5||10 points in 24 months|
|Delaware||Delaware Division of Motor vehicles||2||6||14 points in 24 months|
|District of Columbia||District of Columbia department of Motor Vehicles||2||8||10 points in 24 months|
|Florida||Florida- Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles||3||6||12 points in 12 months
18 points in 18 months
24 points in 36 months
|Georgia||Georgia Department of Driver Services||1||6||15 points in 24 months|
|Hawaii||Hawaii Department of Transportation||No points system. Hawaii revokes the driver's license for DUI or failure to pay a traffic fine within 30 days.|
|Idaho||Idaho Transportation Department||1||4||12-17 points in 12 months
18-23 points in 24 months
24 or more in 36 months
|Illinois||Illinois Secretary of State||5||55||3 violations in 12 months|
|Indiana||Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles||2||8||2 violations in 12 months|
|Iowa||Iowa Department of Transportation||2||6||3 or more points in 12 months|
|Kansas||Kansas Department of Revenue||No points system. Kansas suspends the driver's license of those: convicted of a DUI, who receive 3 or more moving violations in a twelve month period, failure to maintain continuous liability insurance, failure to report a traffic incident, and other offenses.|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Transportation Cabinet||3||6||12 points in 24 months|
|Louisiana||Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles||No points system. Louisiana suspends or revokes the license of those: convicted of a DUI, failure to stop for a school bus, failure to maintain liability insurance, three convictions of reckless driving in a 12 month period, and other offenses.|
|Maine||Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles||2||8||12 points in 12 months|
|Maryland||Maryland Department of Transportation||2||6||8 points in 24 months|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles||2||5||Massachusetts suspends or revokes the license of those: convicted of 3 speeding violations in 12 months, 3 moving violations and/or "surchargeable events" in 2 years, 7 "surchargeable events" in a 3 year period, 3 major moving violations in 5 years, or 12 major and minor violations in 5 years.|
|Michigan||Michigan Secretary of State||2||6||12 points in 24 months|
|Minnesota||Minnesota Department of Public Safety||No points system. Minnesota withdraws the license of those: convicted of speeding in excess of 100mph, are convicted of a misdemeanor for violation of a traffic law, are convicted of a DUI, knowingly drive a vehicle without no-fault insurance, and other convictions.|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Department of Public Safety||No points system. Mississippi suspends or revokes driver's licenses for habitual drunkenness or violations of traffic laws.|
|Missouri||Missouri Department of Revenue||3||12||12 points in 12 months
18 points in 24 months
24 points in 36 months
|Montana||Montana Department of Justice||2||15||30 points in 36 months|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles||1||12||12 points in 24 months|
|Nevada||Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles||1||8||12 points in 12 months|
|New Hampshire||New Hampshire - Department of Safety||2||6||12 points in 12 months
18 points in 24 months
24 points in 36 months
|New Jersey||New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission||2||8||12 points in 24 months|
|New Mexico||New Mexico - Motor Vehicle Division||2||8||7 points in 12 months|
|New York||New York Department of Motor Vehicles||2||11||11 points in 18 months|
|North Carolina||North Carolina - Division of Motor vehicles||1||5||12 points in 36 months
8 points in 36 months (following the reinstatement of license)
|North Dakota||North Dakota -- Department of Transportation||1||24||balance of 12 points|
|Ohio||Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles||2||6||12 points in 24 months|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Department Of Public Safety||1||4||10 points in 60 months|
|Oregon||Oregon Department of transportation||No points system. Oregon suspends the driver's license of those who: are convicted of a DUII, drive without insurance, are convicted of 3 traffic violations or 3 preventable accidents (or a combination total of 3) in an 18 month period, are convicted of 4 traffic violations or 4 preventable accidents (or a combination total of 4) in a 2 year period, and other violations. Oregon will revoke your driving privileges for 5 years if you are convicted of 3 traffic crimes or 20 traffic violations in a 5 year period.|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Department of transportation||2||5||Warning issued for a point balance of 6 points. Hearing and possible suspension for reaching a balance of 6 points a second time.|
|Rhode Island||State of Rhode Island Division Of motor vehicles||No points system. Rhode Island suspends the driver's license of those who: are convicted of a DUI or refuse a breathalyzer test, fail to maintain liability insurance, and other violations.|
|South Carolina||South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles||2||6||12 points in 12 months|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Department Of Public Safety||2||10||15 points in 12 months
22 points in 24 months
|Tennessee||Tennessee Government||1||8||12 points in 12 months|
|Texas||Texas Department of Public Safety||2||3||6 points in 36 months
Individuals who have a point balance of 6 or higher are assessed a surcharge every year they maintain 6 or more points.
Surcharges must be paid within 105 days or an individual’s driver license will be suspended for failure to comply with the surcharge requirements.
|Utah||Utah Dept. of Public Safety||35||80||200 points in 36 months|
|Vermont||Vermont Department of Motor vehicles||2||8||10 points in 24 months|
|Virginia||Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles||3||6||18 points in 12 months
24 points in 24 months
|Washington||Washington state Department of Licensing||No points system. Washington suspends the driver's license of those who: are convicted of a DUI or refuse a breathalyzer test, fail to maintain liability insurance, are convicted of 6 moving violations in a 1 year period, are convicted of 3 traffic infractions in a 5 year period, are convicted of 20 moving violations in a 5 year period, and other violations.|
|West Virginia||West Virginia Department of Transportation||2||8||12 points in 24 months|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Department of Transportation||2||6||12 points in 12 months|
|Wyoming||Wyoming department of transportation||No points system. Wyoming suspends the driver's license of those who: are convicted of a DUI, reckless driving, 4 moving violations in a 1 year period, or not maintaining minimum liability insurance, and for other violations.|
Tips: How to Improve Your Driving Record
All is not lost if you’re on the verge of losing your license or having your insurance rates skyrocket due to traffic citations. There are things you can do to begin cleaning up your driving history.
Fix any errors: After requesting a copy of your driving record, review your personal information and your citations to make sure there are no errors. If you do find incorrect information, you can request a review from your state DMV. In some cases you may need to schedule a hearing to dispute information on your record.
Take a class: Even if you don’t find errors, many states will permit you to take a class from a certified organization to remove points from your record. In general there are two types of classes you can take depending on your state's system:
- Classes which eliminate a single citation: In Wisconsin, for example, you can take a traffic safety course scheduled within a few weeks of a citation, if you have not taken the course in the previous year. The course will prevent the incident from adding points to your driving record or from affecting your insurance rates.
- Classes which can improve your driving record: In New York, for example, you can take an accident prevention course once every three years, even if you don’t have recent violations. After completing the class, up to four points will be removed from your record, and your insurance rates will be reduced 10 percent for three years.
Time heals all wounds: Once you have exhausted these options there are still a few strategies that will improve your record over time:
- Drive defensively: Slow down, be careful, and heed the advice of the classes you’ve taken. Getting another ticket far outweighs the few minutes you may save with your previous driving tactics.
- Drive Less: Find ways that will eliminate the possibility of being cited – Ride a bike, take the bus or train, or find people to car pool with.
As old violations drop off your record, it pays to shop around for car insurance, since you may qualify for lower rates as your record gets cleaner.