Just as your credit report monitors how responsibly you pay your bills, your driving record tracks how well you obey the rules of the road. Your state's Department of Motor Vehicles or the motor vehicle division of its Department of Transportation maintains your driving record. New drivers typically begin with a clean driving record -- one with no citations or points against them. That record stays clean as long as drivers don't break the law while behind the wheel.
Information Your Driving Record Contains
Your driving record shows every speeding ticket, accident and traffic-law conviction you experience. Examples of other driving-related offenses listed on your driving record include:
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- Fleeing or eluding the police
- Driving without insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, usually shortened to DUI
- Failing to stop and provide assistance at an accident involving injuries or death
If you're convicted of underage consumption, possession or attempt to purchase alcohol -- even if you aren't driving or don't have a license yet -- it might go on your driving record, resulting in suspension of your license or delaying your ability to get a learner's permit. License suspensions, license cancellations and any points placed against you also become part of your driving history and remain on your record for as long as 10 years. Some states, such as Massachusetts, don't list seat belt violations on driving records because they don't affect insurance rates and aren't moving violations. Others, including Pennsylvania, note seat belt violations, as they represent two points and carry a fine of up to $250.
States that participate in the Driver License Compact note out-of-state driving activity on your record as if the incident happened in your home state. The District of Columbia also participates in the compact.
Access to Driving Records
States make driving records available to employers for pre-employment screening and background checks, law enforcement agencies, insurance companies for policy rate adjustments and claim investigations, courts and government agencies. Because the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act restricts access to your driving record, however, requests by individuals from authorized categories must be made in writing on the proper form and include a fee. Drivers and parents of minor drivers also have the right to get a copy of their current driving record.
Advantages of a Clean Record
Auto insurance companies regard individuals with clean driving records as safe risks and reward policyholders by charging them as much as 25 percent less than a driver with a speeding ticket, according to Traffic School Online. Some insurance companies also reward a clean driving record with a lower deductible when your car is involved in an accident and "forgive" your first accident by not increasing your premiums.
Financing your car may be easier, too, with a clean record. Lenders, like insurance firms, believe people with clean driving records are more responsible, so they tend to offer more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate on a car loan. According to the Federal Trade Commission, rental car companies may disqualify you from renting if your driving record shows recent violations or accidents, while life insurance companies may cost you more if you have a DUI.
Having a job to pay for a car or a vacation may depend on your clean driving record. Employers frown on poor driving records when evaluating candidates, particularly those that show a DUI. Your job prospects also will be limited if you want a career in law enforcement, a transportation-related field or a line of work that involves road travel. If you drive a company car, you may lose your job after a serious traffic conviction or after having your license suspended or revoked because of the associated increase in insurance costs for your employer.