Your driving record is something that follows you from the day you get your license until the day you hang up your keys.
And it’s something that can have an impact on different aspects of your life, from your car insurance bill to your credit score.
It’s a good idea to aim to have a clean driving record. It signals to car insurance companies that you’re a responsible and safe driver. This pays off for you since it leads to getting better car insurance rates. And who doesn’t want a discount for what they’re paying for premiums?
But what’s considered a clean driving record? If you get any kind of ticket do you automatically not have a clean driving record anymore?
Here’s what you need to know about having a clean driving record:
What is a driving record and what can you find on it?
Also known as a motor vehicle report (MVR), your driving record is a public record of your driving history. Remember, from the moment you get your license, you have a driving record.
On your driving record you can find things like:
- Driving license status
- License classifications and endorsements
- DUI/DWI convictions
- Fees and citations owed
- License points
- Traffic accidents
- Moving violation convictions and fines
- Defensive driving classes taken
Your driving record will not have information about non-moving violations and non-driving related criminal history.
If you have infractions on your record, they don’t stay there forever. Different infractions stay on your MVR for different periods of time. It’s usually around three to five years.
Something like a speeding ticket stays on a driving record for three years. But something serious, like a DUI, can stay on your record for a decade. It all depends on your state’s laws. After that, the violation disappears off your record.
What is a clean driving record?
So you have a driving record. But what’s the distinction between that and a clean driving record?
Generally, you have a clean driving record if your driving history is free of any accidents, moving violations, or points.
But don’t let this definition scare you off. All insurance companies have different rules and definitions of a clean driving record.
Some insurance companies overlook minor moving violations. They might consider you having a clean driving record if you only have one or two moving violations.
So if you have a single speeding ticket or some other relatively minor offense that usually doesn’t prevent you from having a clean driving record.
What is a clean driving record good for?
Working to be a responsible and good driver doesn’t only have safety benefits for you and others on the road.
Insurers use your MVR — along with other information, such as your age, location, and credit score — when trying to decide whether to sell you a policy and how much to charge you.
Insurance companies will give you lower quotes, your premiums stay low, and you might even get the good driver discount.
Every insurer is different, but the good driver discount is usually given to drivers who’ve been accident-free and violation-free for three to five years.
Why insurance companies like drivers with clean driving record
Using your driving record, car insurance companies determine how much risk they’re taking on when they insure your car.
If you’ve had several accidents or you’ve racked up some traffic infractions, you’re more likely to have similar issues like this in the future. And it’s possible that you could make multiple, costly insurance claims, which increases the insurer’s liability.
To offset the probability that they will pay out claims, the insurer will charge you an increased rate. Insurers always want to minimize their risk.
How can I check my driving record?
If you’re curious to see what’s on your driving record, you should get a copy of it. And one of the easiest ways to get your hands on a copy is from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
You can either request a copy in person, online, or by mail. This does vary depending on your state, so check your state’s DMV website.
Third party companies will also offer to check your driving record for you. This can be a quick way to do this, but it’s often the less reliable option.
Why should I bother checking my driving record?
Since your driving record affects things like your insurance rates, take the time to check your driving record. Your driving record could have some mistakes on it.
For example, maybe you’ve been incorrectly marked at fault for an accident. Or maybe your time at traffic school didn’t lessen any points for a violation.
How often should you check it? You should look up your motor vehicle report every year or after an accident is resolved. That way, you can help keep your driving record updated and accurate.
If you do find a mistake, the best thing to do is to go directly to your DMV.
How can I get a clean driving record?
The first thing you can do is be more aware of your driving habits.
Every time you get behind the wheel, stay alert and cautious and cut out any reckless driving. It will take time, but staying accident-free will eventually lower your insurance premium.
You can also learn good driving habits by taking a defensive driving class. Some insurance companies offer a discount on the course and others provide a discount on your premium after you’ve taken the class.
Am I stuck paying high premiums if I don’t have a clean driving record?
Since violations stay on your record for years, it can be hard being patient and waiting for them to disappear. While you’re actively trying to change your driving habits, you can also shop around for car insurance.
Get multiple quotes from different insurers to see what’s out there. Just because you’ve been in an accident or have violations lingering on your driving record shouldn’t stop you from shopping around.
It’s possible to get a cheaper rate from another insurance company since they all treat violations and accidents differently. And even if the quotes you get aren’t drastically different, it could save you a couple of bucks.
Switching to another provider could be the answer to getting a lower premium.
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