Inflation is impacting the budgets of many Americans and almost all of us are looking to save money in any area that we can.
One strategy you can consider to help save money is to review your car insurance and find cheaper rates.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that you have a clean driving record, which will mean that you can benefit from cheaper car insurance premiums.
In this article, we will take a look at what a clean driving record is, and provide you with ways that you can keep yours clear so that you can save money on your car insurance.
What Is a Driving Record and What Does It List?
Also known as a motor vehicle report, or MVR, your driving record is a history of your driving behavior that is made available to selected organizations.
The moment you get your driver’s license, your driving record will be activated. A driving record includes various kinds of information, such as your:
- Driving license status.
- License classifications and endorsements.
- DUI/DWI convictions.
- Fees owed.
- Citations owed.
- License points.
- Traffic accidents.
- Moving violation convictions and fines.
- Defensive driving classes completed.
Your driving record will not include any information about non-moving violations, or non-driving-related criminal history.
What Types of Traffic Violations Go on a Driving Record?
Some states will list individual traffic violations on your driving record, whereas others will assign points based on the type of violation.
In states that issue points for traffic violations, once you’ve reached a certain number of points within a specific time period, the state may suspend your license.
Only traffic violations that result in criminal charges will go on to your driving record.
For example, speeding tickets are handled via the court system, so they will go on your record. On the other hand, a parking ticket may not be a criminal offense in the state that you live in, which means that it would not show up on your driving record.
Irrespective of the state that you live in, you can expect the following traffic violations to appear on your driving record:
A moving violation is a traffic offense that happens whenever a driver violates the traffic rules in a moving car. Some examples of moving violations include:
- Running a red light.
- Distracted driving (such as texting and driving).
- Driving without a seatbelt.
- Failing to use a turn signal.
Non-moving violations are traffic offenses that are committed while the vehicle is stationary. In some cases, you can also commit them while driving.
While the specific categories do vary between states, non-moving violations often include:
- Driving without a license.
- Driving without car insurance.
- An expired car registration.
- Improper parking.
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license.
A mechanical violation can also be considered a non-moving violation. These violations include anything that impact the correct operation of your vehicle.
Some examples of mechanical violations include:
- Broken taillight.
- Faulty brakes.
- Missing windshield wipers.
- Broken headlights.
- Illegal exhaust systems.
Major violations include serious traffic offenses that are considered to be particularly significant or dangerous. These violations carry severe penalties.
- Driving under the influence (DUI).
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- Hit and run accidents.
- Reckless driving.
- Speed racing.
- Using a vehicle to commit a felony.
- Fleeing law enforcement.
- Assault or manslaughter with a vehicle.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
What Is a Clean Driving Record?
A clean driving record refers to an MVR that contains no moving violations, major violations, or other past violations during a specific time period—usually three to five years.
Your MVR is monitored and maintained by the state and other organizations such as your insurance company. Employers can also access your MVR and make decisions based on what they find on your record.
Typically, a driving record covers a period of anything between three and five years, or even up to seven years, depending on the state that you live in.
While some traffic violations like a speeding ticket will come off your MVR after three years, other more serious or major violations such as reckless driving will remain on your record for longer. They may even stay on your record permanently.
Why Should You Maintain a Clean Driving Record?
Making sure that you keep a clean driving record is essential for a variety of reasons. It helps you gain employment easier, pay less in insurance, and maintain your car.
Lower insurance premiums
Even just one violation listed on your driving record could increase your insurance premiums.
Whether it is an accident, speeding ticket, or a DUI—a traffic violation will flag you as a high-risk driver with car insurance companies.
While you can expect an increase of around 10% for a minor traffic violation, more serious or major traffic violations can lead to the cancellation of your car insurance coverage or a huge increase in premiums.
More job opportunities
A clean driving record is needed if you are applying for any job that requires driving. It will also be necessary if you are going to be using a company car for work.
A few examples of the types of jobs where you may need to drive for your employer include:
- Bus drivers.
- Long-haul truckers.
- Ambulance drivers.
- Delivery drivers.
- Construction site operators.
- Machinery operators.
Most employers will be rigid in terms of what they expect from the driving records of their employees. A driving record with no points or negative marks is generally a must.
Less wear and tear on your car
Driving laws are made to minimize motor vehicle traffic accidents and ultimately save lives. Furthermore—if you follow safe, legal driving practices—your car will stay in better condition for longer.
This in turn means that you will spend less money on repairs. In addition to this, the value of your car will remain at its optimal book value (according to resources such as the Kelley Blue Book), as any accident damage will reduce the value of your car.
Key Point: What Is the Kelley Blue Book?
The Kelley Blue Book is one of the most trusted guides for automobile pricing in the U.S. It is used by both sellers and buyers alike to check the current book value of a car.
Ability to get a commercial driver’s license
Federal law requires you to have a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, to drive or operate any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or above.
You will also need a CDL if you’re driving a vehicle that can carry more than 16 people, as well as any vehicle that transports hazardous goods.
Each state has its own CDL program, so the specific requirements do vary from state to state.
When you are trying to get your CDL, the state will review your driving record over the last 10 years. Any license suspensions or DUIs will disqualify you immediately.
How Do You Find Out If You Have a Clean Driving Record?
Similar to a credit score, you should check your driving record on a regular basis to make sure that it is correct and accurate.
Generally, you should check your driving record once per year. Also, folllowing any violation being added to your record, make sure that it is removed again on schedule.
Checking your driving record will vary by state, but in general you’ll need to do the following:
- Ask for your MVR from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) online, via mail, or in person.
- Share your valid driver’s license with the official.
- Pay your fee (this usually costs between $20 and $40).
There are third-party companies that will check your MVR on your behalf, but these companies are not always reliable and they may not be worth the additional expense.
It is better to check your MVR yourself and contest any errors in person.
How Can You Maintain a Clean Driving Record?
The best way to keep a clean driving record is to avoid tickets or other violations in the first place. Having them removed will always take time and cost you money.
If you do have points on your driving record, there are ways that you can clean it up:
Take a defensive driving course
Many states will remove points for minor violations from your driving record if you complete a defensive driving course.
You will need to submit proof to the DMV that you have completed one, after which they will remove points from your MVR.
Dispute errors on your driving record
Mistakes do happen. If you notice that there are any errors on your MVR—such as an accident that you weren’t involved in, or a violation that should have been removed already—you can file a discrepancy with the DMV to have it removed.
You can find the discrepancy process of your state on the DMV website.
Contest your ticket
Most people won’t contest a ticket in court when they have received one. If there were specific circumstances behind the ticket—such as you were speeding to get to the hospital during an emergency—then you may have valid grounds to contest the ticket.
Another reason to contest your ticket is if you are caught not driving with your driver’s license on you. Perhaps you forgot the license at home that day? Simply show your valid driver’s license to the judge and your ticket should be removed from your MVR.
Fix minor issues immediately
In the case of mechanical violations, if you can show the DMV that you’ve fixed the issue, they will more than likely remove the ticket from your MVR.
How Will Your Driving Record Impact Your Insurance Premium?
If you are a safe driver with a clean driving record, your insurance premiums will be much lower than someone who has violations listed on their MVR.
In fact, research has shown that your insurance premiums can increase by around 25% after just a speeding ticket. Other more serious violations could increase your insurance premiums by up to 70%.
If you have needed to file an insurance claim after an accident, particularly if you were at fault in the incident, this will also increase your rate.
When you are negotiating insurance premiums, a car insurance company will typically look at your driving record over a period of three years to see what premium they can offer you.
This means that while you have a traffic violation on your MVR, you could be paying higher insurance premiums for the period of three years, while you have the violation on your record.
The average increase in insurance premiums for common traffic violations include:
- Speeding ticket: 25%
- At-fault accident: 50%
- Reckless driving: 90%
- DUI: 100%
It is important to know that not all insurance companies view traffic violations in the same way.
For this reason, it is always important to compare car insurance rates so that you can find the best company for your budget and insurance coverage needs.
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