How To Clean Your Driving Record—And Keep It Clean

Tips to get a clean driving record include checking your MVR regularly, paying tickets promptly, and tracking your driving behaviors with telematics.
Written by Sarah Gray
Edited by Jessica Barrett
Reviewed by Brice Regling
Even something as simple as running a red light will be recorded on your driving record. To get a clean driving record, your first tip is to drive safely—but you also need to pay tickets promptly and keep an eye out for errors. Even one point on your record could result in increased
car insurance
costs.

What is a clean driving record?

If you have no accumulated violation points, car accidents, convictions, tickets, or claims, then you have a clean driving record. A
clean driving record
is the result of being a safe driver.

How to clean your driver record

There are several steps you can take to clean up your driving record.

Check your record for accuracy

You can order a copy of your driving record or
motor vehicle record (MVR)
from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a small fee. You can also get an abbreviated version of your record from your insurance provider, but when your goal is clean-up, you’ll want the full report.
Even if you have a clean record, it’s a good idea to check your MVR every few years. Any discrepancy can affect your insurance costs, so keep a close eye out for errors.
If you find any errors on your driving record, it’s important to dispute them immediately. To find out the dispute process for your state, contact your local DMV.

Contest questionable tickets

It’s easier to keep points off your record in the first place than to have them removed after the fact. If you’ve received a ticket for a moving violation, you may have a chance to get it dismissed in court—especially if you feel you were ticketed wrongly or if this is your first infraction.

Make a bid for deferment or expungement

Deferment: In some states, you can pay a fine to keep a ticket off your record, which is called deferment. You are usually allowed to keep your clean driving record if you remain ticket-free for 12 months afterward.
Expungement: Expungement occurs when a violation or serious offense, such as a
DUI
, that has been on your record is removed after a specified period during which you receive no serious violations. This period is typically three to five years, though it could be longer in your state. 

Take care of “fix-it” tickets immediately

“Fix-it” tickets are
citations
for things that require corrective action. Often, once you present proof to the DMV or court that the situation has been addressed, the citation is dismissed—especially if it’s a first offense.
Typical “fix-it” tickets include:
  • Driver’s license violations (like forgetting your license at home)
  • Insurance violations (like misplacing your insurance card)
  • Equipment violations (like driving with a broken taillight)
  • Car registration violations (like driving with an expired registration)
Pro tip: Driving without insurance is not the same thing as driving without proof of insurance. To have a chance of getting an insurance violation dismissed, you’ll need to be able to show proof you had valid insurance at the time you were cited—purchasing coverage after the fact will not be enough.

Take a defensive driving course

Completing traffic school is a great way to become a safer driver—and it could help you clean up your driving record.
Many states allow drivers to complete approved
driver education courses
in exchange for reduced license points, violation expungement, or ticket dismissal. In some states, it can also help you earn an insurance discount. 
Even if completing a driver safety course won’t help you clean your record or earn a discounted rate on auto insurance, it’s still a great way to learn how to be a safer driver. And being a safe driver is the first step toward getting and maintaining a clean driving record.

Drive safely

The best way to get a clean driving record is to practice safe driving habits behind the wheel. Follow traffic laws, use your turn signals, stick to the speed limit, and drive defensively.
app screenshot
To make sure you’re engaging in the safe driving behaviors that will help you clean up and maintain your good driving record, use
Jerry’s
DriveShield tool to track your driving habits. 
DriveShield uses telematics to track things like speeding, phone use, and harsh braking so you can establish the good driving habits that will help you avoid future traffic violations and accidents.
Plus, drivers who use the Jerry app to track their driving earn an average good driver discount of 12% from their insurance provider.

How your driving record affects insurance costs

Every insurance company will check your driving record before offering you a policy. What’s on that record will play a large part in determining the rates you’re eligible for from a given provider.
If you have a poor driving record, you should expect higher rates than a driver with a clean record. To give you an idea of exactly how your record can affect rates, check out the table below that describes how a single speeding ticket can increase your premiums with some top providers.
Insurance company
Average rate increase after a speeding ticket
Allstate
15.25%
USAA
16.75%
American Family
22%
Nationwide
26%
State Farm
26.25%
Farmers
30.5%
Auto-Owners
35.5%
Travelers
37%
GEICO
38%
Progressive
42.5%
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Where'd we get these numbers?
Jerry’s editorial team researched the average rate increase after a speeding ticket for these 10 insurance companies using expert sources from Forbes, NerdWallet, ValuePenguin, WalletHub, Liberty Mutual, The Zebra, and CarInsurance.com. Our data shows the average of the data shared by these sources.

How to save on insurance with a poor driving record

No two companies use the exact same formula to
calculate insurance premiums
. As you can see from the table above, a ticket that could increase your costs by over 40% with one provider may only raise your rates by about 15% with another. 
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To make sure you’re getting the most
affordable car insurance
rates, regardless of your driving record, you need to compare quotes from multiple providers. 
Use the Jerry app to make
comparing car insurance quotes
easy. Jerry helps you build a profile that includes your current record, so you can see who things like speeding tickets, DUIs, or at-fault accidents will affect the rates you qualify for from different providers.

FAQs

How long do points stay on your driving record?

In states that use driver’s license points systems to track your driving history, points typically remain on your record for between three and five years. Not all states use the same record-keeping practices or expungement durations, though, so check with your state’s DMV to find out how long your points will remain.

How long does reckless driving stay on your record?

Like most other violations, major violations like a reckless driving charge will typically stay on your record for three to five years. Check with your state’s DMV to find out for certain.

How long does a DUI stay on your driving record?

In Massachusetts, Indiana, New Mexico, Vermont, and Maine, a DUI/DWI will remain on your record indefinitely. In other states, you can expect your DUI to remain on your record anywhere from 5 to 15 years.

How long do speeding tickets stay on your driving record?

Some states consider a speeding ticket a minor infraction, so it will fall off your record in one to three years. But in others, it could remain for three to five years, or indefinitely. 

How long does impaired driving stay on your record?

Impaired driving convictions are often handled similarly to DUIs, so you could see your conviction on your record indefinitely or for a period of five to 15 years. Check with your state’s DMV to find out for sure.

What happens if you get three points on your license?

Legally-speaking, what happens when you get three points on your license will depend on the state you’re in and the number of points you already have on your record. If you already have a number of points, three more could result in license suspension or revocation.  
One thing you can be certain of no matter where you live, though: your insurance rates will increase.

How do I clean my driving record in CA?

In some cases, you simply have to wait for the points to expire from your record, but in a few, the state allows you to take an approved defensive driving course to get a ticket dismissed. If you’re eligible to complete traffic school, you’ll be notified via mail by the California DMV.1

How long does a conviction stay on your driving record in NY?

In general, convictions will remain on your New York driving record until the end of the year in which they occurred, plus three years. DUI convictions, however, will remain on your record for no less than 15 years.2

How do I remove a violation from my driving record in Texas?

Texas may allow you to complete 6-hour defensive driving course to dismiss a traffic ticket for a minor violation or reduce points from your driving record.3

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