What Is a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)?

A motor vehicle report is a comprehensive record of your time as a driver that can be requested by insurance companies and employers to determine eligibility.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Edited by Kianna Walpole
background
A motor vehicle report (MVR) is an official document issued by state DMVs, summarizing your driving history. It includes details like your license status, traffic violations, and accidents, and is often requested by employers or insurance companies.

What is a motor vehicle report?

A motor vehicle report (MVR) is a comprehensive document that includes everything from your personal information to information about your driving history over the last three to 10 years. It generally includes details, such as: 
  • Name, address, date of birth
  • Driver license number, endorsements,
    suspensions
    , restrictions, points
  • Accidents, traffic violations,
    DUI convictions
Each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles issues and maintains MVRs—they’re not administered by a federal agency. MVRs are most often used by insurance companies and employers, but can also be obtained by a variety of other outlets such as government agencies and law enforcement officers.
Essentially, a MVR basically states whether or not a person has a
clean record
. It may also include personally identifying information (PII) like your hair color, weight, and height. 
In regards to accidents and license revocations or suspensions, actual accident reports and license suspension
citations
will also be listed in your MVR. In some states, the MVR includes the status of child support payments, as this can impact driving privileges.

What is an MVR check?

An MVR check is when a potential employer requests a copy of your driving record. It’s often part of the background check process, especially for commercial driver/CDL holders via the Department of Transportation (DOT) and those with certifications (i.e. doctor, lawyer, pilot).
According to a recent study done by the
National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence
, about 27.6% of employer participants said they accessed reports from the state motor vehicle records. From these results, approximately 47.9% of all employers surveyed noted that MVRs were a highly effective way to identify good drivers.

A poor MVR can lead to higher insurance rates

It’s no secret that your driving record can significantly impact your insurance premiums. On average, most drivers with a poor history pay 72% more on their monthly premiums. To put this into perspective, Jerry experts analyzed real policyholder data to determine just how much your rates can increase only a monthly basis with various types of infractions:
Violation
Average coverage cost 
Total rate increase (%)
Open container
$182
50%
Illegal turn
$182
50%
Driving on suspended license
$185
53%
Driving without a seatbelt
$191
58%
DUI
$202
67%
Racing/drag racing
$206
70%
However, it’s important to remember that your driving record is always being updated. So when your policy is up for renewal, your premium could change. Here’s what you can generally expect to pay for coverage with some of the best insurance companies in the nation after a violation: 
Insurance company
Average rate before violation
Average rate after violation
Average increase (%)
$1,730
$3,245
168%
$3,112
$3,221
4%
$1,175
$1,839
56%
$1,919
$2,420
26%
$1,185
$1,399
18%
$1,542
$2,214
44%
$1,410
$1,509
7%
$1,201
$1,931
61%
To maintain the best rates possible, keep a clean driving record. Not only can you qualify for cheaper rates, but you may earn rewards and discounts for good driving with top insurers, including
Progressive
,
State Farm
, and
GEICO
But it’s not just your record that can change your premiums. Your location, your gender, your credit history, and your coverage level also raise or lower your rates.
Shopping around
with multiple companies is the smartest way to uncover the best rate for your given record.
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How long can an MVR or violation affect my insurance rates? 

Typically, violations on your MVR can last between 3-10 years—however, this timeline can vary depending on your state. There are two types of driving records available: lifetime and standard. 
  • Lifetime: The length of a lifetime record includes your entire lifetime of driving history.
  • Standard: A standard record includes only the last 5-10 years of your driving history.
Some states (like
New York
) maintain lifetime records as well as standard records, but most only keep standard records. Every three to six months, auto insurance companies check your MVR when your policy is up for renewal, and any violations—whether new or old—can influence your premium costs.
Your MVR is private—mostly. Generally, people need your written consent to access your MVR thanks to the
Driver Privacy Protection Act
(DPPA). Most requestees have to identify themselves to you, explain why they want to access your MVR, and get your permission.
However, some people and organizations are allowed to access your MVR without permission. Here is a list of some of the times your MVR may be requested or obtained, and whether or not that person or organization needs to request it.  
Infographic table for who needs permission for a motor vehicle report and why. Government agencies do not need your permission to request or obtain a motor vehicle report so they can inform you of auto safety, recall, emissions, or theft. Law enforcement  or security do not need your permission so they can provide notice of a towed or impounded car. Insurance companies do not need your permission so they can assign rates and manage claims. Employers do need your permission so they can use it to review job applicants and verify mailing addresses. Privately owned toll facilities do need permission so they file toll violations and to mail invoices. Nonprofit motor vehicle market research does not need your permission to so they can study vehicle and safety records.
It’s important to note that accessing an MVR is not the same as sharing your personal identifying information (PII). It’s prohibited under the DPPA to disclose your PII or contact you after viewing your MVR.

Drivers can request a copy of their MVR at any time

You can request a copy of your MVR anytime through your local driver’s services agency. There are two types of MVRs you can request: certified and uncertified.
card icon
Certified MVRs:*
  • Ask your local DMV or BMV
  • May request online, by mail, or in-person
  • Pay the $5 to $25 fee for a copy (credit cards may not be accepted)
card icon
Uncertified MVRs:**
  • Ask your local DMV or BMV
  • Request digital copy
  • Pay the $3 to $20 fee, if applicable in your state
* For use in court or job interviews. **For casual reviews on accuracy and to estimate insurance rates. This should be used for educational purposes.

Always check for errors on your MVR

While most people request a copy of their MVR for educational or professional/legal purposes, you may be requesting it because you believe there’s an error on your report. 
If you receive a copy of your MVR and confirm there is an error (like a wrongfully attributed accident or violation), you can formally dispute it by following these steps:
icon
Contact your  insurance company or state DMV and notify them of the error.
icon
Verify your information. You’ll likely need to give the DMV or insurance company your name, date of birth, and driver’s license.
icon
Provide evidence that supports your claim. It can be difficult to prove that you were wrongfully cited, so be prepared with as much evidence as possible. For instance, it may help if you have receipts proving you were out of town when the infraction allegedly occurred.
You can dispute an error at any time. Just be aware that it may take quite a while to get it changed on your record since the state has to research your case.

How to maintain a clean driving record

The best way to keep a clean driving record is to practice safe driving habits. Avoid violations, accidents, and convictions that would blemish your record, such as speeding tickets or failure to stop citations. If you do get a ticket, make sure to pay it on time and dispute any errors.
If you already have a few marks against your driver record, there are two steps you can take to help clear your history:
  • Wait it out: Most violations will naturally fall off your record after a certain period of time. This is usually between 3-5 years, but it may be longer based on the severity of your violation. 
  • Prove yourself: Some drivers may be eligible for a
    defensive driving
    class which can erase points from their records. In states without a points system, drivers may be able to take a defensive driving course to have their fines reduced or a ticket dismissed.

FAQ

How often do insurers check your driving record information?

When you apply for or renew car insurance, insurers assess your driving record. This means that if you're involved in an accident during your policy term, any changes to your rates won't take effect until your policy is up for renewal.

Are motor vehicle records public?

Access to motor vehicle records is generally restricted to individuals seeking their own information. Certain agencies, organizations, and individuals are allowed to access MVRs without permission. If you wish to view someone else's motor vehicle records, you must establish permissible use according to legal requirements.

How do I get points off my license?

You can wait for the violation to “expire” and fall off your record. Some states also allow drivers to pass a defensive driving course in order to remove points from their records. Most but not all states use a point system with driver’s licenses, FYI.

How much does an MVR report cost?

This will vary by state, but typically a motor vehicle report will cost between $10 and $40. If you need a copy of your MVR for research purposes only, ask for an unofficial report and it should cost less than an official copy.

Meet our experts

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Bonnie Stinson
Bonnie Stinson is an insurance writer with 8+ years of experience as a content writer. They specialize in making complex topics like insurance and technology easy to understand. Bonnie has written over 1,300 articles to help people become confident car owners, from how to choose the right car and build a car insurance policy to dealing with stressful situations like car accidents and unexpected repairs.
Before joining Jerry’s editorial team, Bonnie worked as a digital media strategist and user experience researcher, producing content for Furnishr, STACKEDD Magazine, InfinityCore Health, and the global non-profit Giraffe Heroes.
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Kianna Walpole
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Expert Insurance Writer & Editor
Kianna Walpole is an insurance writer and editor with a comprehensive background in consumer behavior and online publishing. With experience in car insurance, maintenance, and repair, she is dedicated to building informative content that helps customers reduce costs while achieving the best service. Prior to joining the Jerry editorial team, Kianna worked as a junior editor in the content marketing industry, using consumer data and key insights to create and edit content for an array of large-scale clients in the real estate, cybersecurity, and healthcare industries.

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