What is a Clean Driving Record?

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  • Clean driving record definition
  • What if I have a speeding ticket?
  • How long is it on my record?
  • Cleaning up your record
  • Your driving record and insurance
  • FAQs
Your driving record shows insurance providers your driving history—and a clean driving record doesn’t have any accidents or violations on it.
Of all the factors that can contribute to how much you pay for car insurance, your driving record is by far the most important. It shows insurers whether you’ve been involved in any accidents or been charged with any violations.
But more importantly, it shows whether you maintain good driving habits, which can potentially lower your insurance rates. Even if your driving record is less than perfect, the car insurance comparison shopping and broker app Jerry can help you find the lowest rates.
Whether you’re reveling in a spotless driving record or trying to turn things around, read on to learn everything you need to know about clean driving records.
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What is a clean driving record?

Different insurers have different definitions of “clean,” but most clean records don’t contain red flags that could mark you as a higher-risk driver. A questionable driving record can contain either accidents, a series of smaller violations, a major violation, or a combination of these.
If you want a clean driving record, here’s what you need to avoid:

At-fault accidents

This is the most obvious infraction that insurance companies look for. Any at-fault accident, whether single-car or multi-car, will be a negative on your driving record. Depending on your state and the severity of the accident, an accident can remain on your record for up to five years.

Major moving violations

Major moving infractions may not result in a collision but are still considered serious offenses. Violations like DUIs can stay on your record for a decade or more—and your insurance rates will skyrocket.
Other examples of major moving violations include reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and driving without insurance.

Minor moving violations

While they might not be considered as serious as major infractions, having numerous minor violations is also a red flag. They often result in tickets from police and include offenses such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to obey traffic signs and signals.

Points

Points are accumulated on your license every time you’re found guilty of committing a moving violation. In some states, accumulating too many in a given period of time can result in your license being suspended or revoked.
Key Takeaway Clean records are usually free of at-fault accidents, minor or major violations, and points on your license.

Do I have a clean driving record if I have a speeding ticket?

The answer to this question is almost entirely up to your insurance provider or prospective employer.
Many companies overlook speeding tickets, although they might pay closer attention if you have a lot of them. Insurance companies won’t deny you coverage if you have speeding tickets, but you might find that they affect your rate.

Why you should always be honest about your driving record

Insurance companies and potential employers performing background checks don’t need your consent to access your driving record. And since there’s little chance of convincing the DMV to lie for you about that speeding ticket, it’s best to be upfront about your driving history if you’re asked.

How long will a violation stay on your driving record?

The length of time that a violation remains on your driving record depends on your state and the nature of the offense.
  • A minor infraction like a speeding ticket or an accident not caused by reckless driving can stay on your record for 3 to 5 years
  • A serious violation, like a DUI or reckless driving, can stay on for 10 years or more and can drastically increase your insurance rates

How can you clean up your record?

The simplest way to clean up your record and keep it clean is to practice safe driving. But mistakes happen to the best of us. Here are some proactive ways to help take minor violations off your record sooner.

Settle your tickets as soon as possible

Pay your speeding tickets as soon as you can. You usually have 21 to 30 days after the ticket is given to pay them off—but the sooner you do it, the better. Unpaid tickets will show up on your driving record, and that’s something you want to avoid.

Attend traffic school

In many states, speeding tickets can be expunged from your driving record if you attend traffic school—though there will be an additional fee on top of the cost of the ticket. Traffic school is often available online, so you can take it whenever is most convenient for you.
There may be a limit to how often you can attend traffic school to expunge a speeding ticket in a given period of time. The option may only be available once every 18 months or so.

Keep track of your points

Points on your license work similarly to your driving record. You accumulate them by committing driving violations, and they stay on your license for a period of time. Accumulating a certain number of points within a set period can result in a license suspension.
Get in the habit of reviewing your points regularly. Address any errors as soon as you notice them so that you won’t be unnecessarily penalized.

Contest tickets

Going to court might be the most tedious course of action, but it could be worthwhile if it means one less ticket on your record. There may be extenuating circumstances that resulted in the ticket, like a family emergency or unclear signage. The only way to argue those circumstances is to take them before a judge.
Of course, this isn’t a guarantee that you’ll have your ticket expunged. But if you feel you have genuinely reasonable circumstances, a reputable judge may be understanding and willing to waive the ticket for you. And if the officer who administered the ticket doesn’t show up on the court date, the judge will automatically rule in your favor.

Request a deferral

You may not have noticed the option to defer on your speeding ticket—and while it might seem like a no-brainer, it’s not quite that simple.
You must request a deferral from your local court, and it’s likely to be granted if you don’t have a history of frequent tickets. You’ll be asked to pay a fee (typically $100 to $150) and promise to stay ticket-free for one year.
If you incur another ticket during this probation period, the deferral will automatically be revoked. You’ll be on the hook for the original ticket and the new ticket—and both will show up on your driving record.
Key Takeaway Practicing safe driving is the best way to keep your record clean. But if you slip up, attending traffic school, paying your fines quickly, and contesting tickets can help.
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How your driving record impacts your insurance

Your driving record shows prospective insurance companies your driving habits—and whether or not you maintain good ones. A surplus of speeding tickets, an at-fault accident or two, or a DUI may be a red flag. This usually means higher rates or a refusal to cover you.
But on the other hand, good driving habits are often rewarded, even if you started off with a spotty record.
Demonstrating and maintaining good driving habits, attending traffic school, and paying fines in a timely fashion shows insurance companies that you’re responsible. They may reward you with a lower premium.
Regardless of your driving record, Jerry can help you find the lowest possible rate for your driving history. It takes less than a minute and Jerry will provide you with quotes from over 45 reputable providers to help you find the lowest rates and the best coverage.
Don’t stress over high premiums because of a lousy driving record—find savings with Jerry.
“I have a TERRIBLE driving record and not many places will insure me, anyway. I logged onto Jerry and they found my policy with just a few identifying questions. They shopped my rate around and I ended up saving $200/month!” —Jerry user

Frequently asked questions

Why is it important to have a clean driving record?

A clean driving record is more than just bragging rights. Keeping your record clean can also save you money. You’ll be able to buy insurance at a much lower rate with a clean driving record than you would if you had any violations. Keeping it clean can also qualify you over time for lower rates and discounts.

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