Tips for How to Clean Your Driving Record
Apr 27, 2022 · 12 min read
- Driving record basics
- Earning a clean record
- 12 methods
- Ride-share drivers
- Affordable insurance
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To get a clean driving record, one tip is to drive safely, but it’s a little more complicated than that. You also need to pay tickets promptly and keep an eye on your points.
The quality of your driving record is important because it impacts your insurance rates. A lousy record means that you’ll pay more for car insurance.
Jerry is a great way to find affordable car insurance, no matter your history.
Here’s what you need to know about clean driving records and tips on how to clean up a less-than-perfect driving record.
What is a driving record?
Your driving record is a live document that tracks your behavior as a driver. It is kept by the DMV and can be accessed by employers and insurance companies.
- Your license classification, number, status, expiration date
- Moving violations and DUI/DWIs
- Tickets, fees, and fines
- Defensive driving classes or traffic schools
- Suspensions or revocations
- Accumulated points
- Personal information like name, address, and age
Depending on your state and the specific incident, it could stay on your record for between three and 10 years. This is known as a "lookback" period. Once this period is over, the entry will disappear from your record.
What leads to a clean driving record?
A clean driving record is the result of being a safe driver.
What is considered a clean driving record? If you have no accumulated points, accidents, convictions, tickets, or claims, then congratulations—you have a squeaky clean driving record!
Here are some of the incidents that could mar your clean record:
- Accidents (including at-fault and no-fault)
- License and insurance violations
- Mechanical violations (like a broken tail light)
- Distracted driving violations (like talking on a phone or texting while driving)
- Minor moving violations (like running a red light or failing to signal)
- Major violations (like driving under the influence or reckless driving)
Key Takeaway Driving safely is the best way to ensure your driving record stays clean.
Why does a clean driving record matter?
Your driving record isn’t open to everyone, but it can be delivered by request to insurance companies and employers. These people will make important decisions about you based on your driving record.
For example, let’s say you are a risky driver with a serious record of accidents. Upon reviewing your record, insurance companies will charge you a higher fee for coverage. This is the legal, normal method for insurers to assess risk.
If you apply for a job that requires driving, you could be denied employment due to a lousy driving record.
Every insurance company will check your history before offering you a policy. They will review your driving record and pay special attention to claims history, accidents, and citations.
No two companies use the exact same formula to calculate rates. The formulas are kept secret, but they all take your driving record into account.
One company might weigh moving violations very heavily. Another insurer may prioritize the number of claims you’ve filed. This is why two companies might quote you very different fees.
Jerry is a good way to quickly get quotes from various insurance companies. You don’t need to know the specifics of their formula to get a quote, and Jerry can help lay out your options with minimum hassle.
Key Takeaway Prospective insurers will assess your record when calculating your quote.
Not all companies will check a candidate’s motor vehicle report as a part of their hiring criteria. For example, if the position does not require you to drive a company vehicle, then you probably won’t get checked out. However, you may have to show a clean driving record to prove you're safe to drive a company vehicle.
Key Takeaway Potential employers may look at your driving record to help them determine if you’re a fit for their business.
12 ways to clean a driving record
The best way to get a clean driving record is to practice safe driving habits when you get behind the wheel. Use your turn signals, stick to the speed limits, and drive defensively. Don’t give the police a reason to pull you over, and avoid situations that could lead to an accident.
We get it: sometimes you make a mistake, and suddenly, your record doesn't look so great. Or maybe you were wrongly ticketed for something. Whatever the reason, here are some steps you can take to clean your driving record.
Contact the DMV
You can always reach out to the DMV. Ask them about ways to fix errors on your record or get rid of points. This is an especially good strategy if you just moved to a new state or recently discovered a mistake on your record.
Note that the DMV cannot alter your record without proof, so please don’t call them and try to make your case over the phone. Prepare documentation and be polite and patient.
Check your driving record
You can order your motor vehicle record (MVR) online, in person, over the phone, or via mail. There is usually a small fee, around $10.
Another option to access your driving record is to go through your insurance company. All you need is your driver’s license number. Pulling the record this way can help you see what the insurance company has on you. It may not contain everything but it’s a great starting place.
There are also third-party vendors but they cost more and may contain errors, so read reviews carefully.
Check your MVR whenever you think there might be a change, like after taking a defensive driving course or getting into an accident. If you are applying for a driving-related job, that’s a perfect time to check your record.
Keep track of the points on your record
Points are a shorthand system for keeping track of traffic violations. Some offenses, like speeding tickets, will attach a point to your driving record.
You should keep track of your points because, after you accumulate a certain number of them, there are serious consequences. For instance, in California, four points within 12 months can lead to a suspended license. Points will also make cheap car insurance harder to find.
The good news is that there are ways to remove points. Some points will disappear after a few years, and some states allow you to remove one point by completing an approved traffic safety course.
Take care of tickets that can be easily resolved
"Fix-it" tickets are situations where you can easily take action to correct the wrong. Usually, you will need to show proof to the DMV or court to get the citation dismissed. An example is if you had insurance coverage but couldn’t find your card when you got pulled over.
Here are some examples of "fix-it" tickets:
- Driver’s license violations (like forgetting your license at home)
- Insurance violations (like misplacing your insurance card)
- Equipment violations (like driving with a broken tail light)
- Car registration violations (like driving with an expired registration)
You may need to confirm with the DMV that the item has actually been removed from your record.
Attempt to dismiss the ticket
It’s easier than you may think to fight a traffic ticket.
You should always attempt to get your ticket dismissed if you were not entirely in the wrong.
Many cases get dismissed simply because the police were too busy to show up, which is good news for you.
When you attempt to fight a ticket, provide documentation and present your story factually. You will need to describe the situation in front of a judge, who will make the final decision about whether to dismiss your citation or not.
Make a bid for deferment or expungement
In some states, you can pay a fine to keep a ticket off your record, which is called deferment. Usually, you are then allowed to keep your clean driving record if you remain ticket-free for 12 months afterward.
Expungement is when a violation disappears from your record after you drive safely for a specific period of time following a serious violation, such as drunk driving. This period is usually five years or longer.
Take a defensive driving course
Traffic school is a great way to become a safer driver. It can also help you clean up your driving record.
Depending on your state, the course will be offered online or in-person. They typically last between four and 12 hours and don’t usually require any physical demonstrations. Topics include maintenance, accident prevention, and education on state safety laws.
Make sure you enroll in an approved course, otherwise you won’t receive credit. Insurance companies will need to see a certificate of completion when you finish.
Benefits of a defensive driving course include reducing points on your driving record and qualifying for discounts on your car insurance. In some states, finishing a defensive driving course means that you can mask (but not remove) a point on your record, which can help you qualify for lower insurance rates.
After all, what is a clean driving record if not an evaluation of how safely you drive? That’s why defensive driving classes can positively impact your driving record.
Find a lawyer to take your case for serious accidents
You might want to think about hiring a lawyer if you have racked up high fees due to driving under the influence or multiple speeding tickets. Legal counsel can manage your case in the courts or they can simply advise you about how to fight your ticket and resolve your case.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help! The legal system is complex and it’s very common to need professional assistance when navigating the court system.
Pay any fees as soon as possible
You can’t simply wish away a ticket by stuffing it in a drawer.
If you let tickets and fees pile up, it could lead to a license suspension or even a lawsuit. Your insurance rates could even skyrocket for years as a result of not paying a small fine.
Pay your fees as promptly as possible. If you have misplaced the ticket itself, call the DMV or the court for more information If you need a payment plan, contact the court and see if there’s an option to make smaller payments over time until the fee is paid.
When enough time passes, most violations will drop from your record. You may have to wait between three and 10 years, depending on the violations. But it’s nice to know that keeping your nose clean will (eventually) pay off.
A special note for Uber, Lyft, delivery, and other ride-share drivers
You will need a fairly clean driving record to be eligible to work for any of these companies.
Some allow for a few moving violations, like speeding tickets. However, most companies will not hire you if you have any serious offenses like DUIs—or more than three moving violations within the last few years.
How to get affordable car insurance, no matter your driving record
Whether you have a squeaky clean or not-so-squeaky-clean record, there are many ways to negotiate cheaper car insurance.
Qualify for discounts to bring down the overall price of your policy. You could enjoy a reduced premium for being a low-mileage driver, bundling your policies, or installing a telematics device, for example.
Shop around to make sure you’re getting the lowest possible rate. Not all companies calculate the same way—and the best price before an accident may not be the best price afterward.
If you’re shopping for car insurance, Jerry will generate competitive quotes from top providers in less than a minute. Jerry gathers your information from your past insurer, so you're not responsible for any long forms or phone calls. Basically, you get all of the savings and coverage, with none of the hassle.
Frequently asked questions
What is considered a clean driving record?
A clean driving record means that you have not committed any major traffic violations, or at least major violations. If you have a few minor citations but no points, you could still have a clean driving record.
How do I get a clean driving record?
Driving safely is the best way to get a clean driving record. Pay your fines immediately and fix any mistakes if you find them. You can always go to court or request legal assistance if you want to fight a ticket.
How do I check my driving record?
You can order a copy from the DMV for a small fee. Another option is to go through your insurance company, but they may not have your full record on file. You can also go through a third party, but read reviews carefully to find a reputable company.
Where can I get affordable car insurance if I don’t have a clean driving record?
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