Are My Driving Records Public?

Oct 11, 2022 - By Ariana Manikas

The requirements vary from state to state regarding information related to your driving records and whether they are open to the public if required with a valid reason. The 1994 Driver’s Privacy Protection Act protects the disclosure of certain personal information, specifically your license, social security number, and home address. However, the rest of your driving information can be requested by the public at your local DMV. If you are concerned about your own driving records, explore below what driving records are and how you can check them for yourself.

What are Driving Records?

Driving records, also known as motor vehicle reports, are documents and files kept by the state DMV on every driver. They include several key pieces of information about your driving history. These include:

  • Your name, gender, and current address
  • Driver’s license number, driving classification, licensing status, and license expiration date
  • Number of points on your license, DUI charges, traffic fines, driving suspensions, and driving revocations
  • History of moving violations, convictions, and any driving related tickets
  • Accident History

Your driving record will not publicly list your non-moving violations or any criminal history unrelated to the operation of a motor vehicle. 

How to Check Driving Records By Yourself?

Because the records are public, there are several ways you can get a copy of your driving record. The primary methods for doing so are through the DMV, third-party vendors, and auto insurance agents.

Getting Driving Records Through the DMV in 5 Steps

  1. Make a Request: The first step to getting your driving records through the DMV is to put in a request for an official driving record copy. This can be done by sending in a request online or via mail; you can also go in-person to your DMV to submit this request.
  2. Get Your Unofficial Copy: If you decide to submit your request online you can receive an unofficial copy of your driving record early. For in-person and mail you will have to wait for the official copy, which may contain different information.
  3. Be Ready to Wait: You can usually get an unofficial copy quickly, but your official copy will take several weeks to arrive. Unfortunately there is no way to expedite this process.
  4. Determine Payment Method: Once you’ve put in your request you’ll need to determine how you will pay. This can be done with cash if done in person, cash or check if done by mail, and credit/debit card if done online.
  5. Pay the Fee: The fee to request a driving record is usually between $10 and $30; check your local DMV website to see how much a driving records request fee will end up being.

Getting Driving Records Through Third-Party Vendors in 5 Steps

  1. Consider Your Timeline: Third-party records search can often be a bit expensive, but they are the fastest way to get a copy of your driving records. This is the best option to choose if you need your driving record quickly and can’t wait several weeks for it to come in the mail.
  2. Find a Service: Search and compare different third-party driving records vendors to see who is highly rated and fits within your budget. Some services may offer subpar information, so make sure to research carefully.
  3. Request Record: Once you’ve selected a service, follow the instructions on their website to request your official driving record.
  4. Review Information: Make sure to review the information given on this report, comparing it to any auxiliary documents you have pertaining to your driving history. If you see any inaccuracies, contact your service and ask for an updated report or refund.
  5. Make Sure it's Official: You’ll need to verify with your third-party vendor that the report you are receiving is official. Most reputable vendors will clearly list this at the top of your report; if they don’t, that should be a huge red flag.

Getting Driving Records Through Auto Insurance Agents in 3 Steps

  1. Consider the Advantages: When determining whether you should use an auto insurance agent, compare the advantages and disadvantages. You may get your copy a bit slower than a third-party service, but your report will be reviewed and provided for free by your auto insurance agent.
  2. Find an Auto Insurance Agent: If you already have an auto insurance agent, all you need to do is contact them. If not, shop around and find an auto insurance agent that best meets your needs, making sure they provide driving records upon request.
  3. Request Your Copy: Once you’ve chosen an agent, you can request your copy. Depending on your agent this could be 100% free!

What is Included in Driving Records?

Your driving record will have several key details about your driving history available to the public, including identification information, license information, driving infractions, moving violations, and accident history.

Identification Information

Certain pieces of identification information will be included on your driving record: these can include your full legal name, gender, and current address. What information is available does vary state-to-state, and some areas may not provide details about a driver’s identity to the public.

License Information

This part of the report will be more extensive and feature personal details like your driver’s license number. It will also show your driving classification with your letter designation when applicable. So if you have a Class A, Class B, Class C or any other designated license, your driving records will reflect that. Classifications are usually based on the weight of your vehicle; class a drivers, for example, usually drive large vehicles like semi-trucks or buses.

Your records will also show your license status, and whether you are currently able to legally drive. This information includes how many points are on your license, whether you are a driver in good standing, whether your license is suspended or revoked, and whether it is expired. These suspensions and expirations can be based on the number of points currently represented on your license; not all states use this point system, and you can check your local DMV to see if the system is used in your area.

Driving Infractions

Your driving records will likely include a full history of your moving violations, traffic and driving-related convictions, and any driving-related tickets. Smaller offenses will stay on your record for a shorter amount of time; something like a speeding ticket, for example, will be on your record for three years, while a more severe charge like DUI can stay on for up to a decade.

Moving Violations

Your driving record will also have a history of any criminal charges that directly relate to the operation of a motor vehicle. These traffic offenses include:

  • Driving without a valid licenses
  • Failing to yield
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Not stopping for pedestrians
  • Seat belt law violations
  • Texting or calling while driving
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Failing to keep proper distance between vehicles

Any violations or convictions will be listed along with any current or past tickets on your vehicle. Again, the length of time each violation is visible depends on the severity of the crime and relevant laws of your state. 

Accident History

While not as comprehensive as a full accident history, the accident history on your driving records will likely show details about any recorded collisions and how it relates to your driving status. If an accident resulted in your license being suspended or an associated conviction, this information is usually available to the public.

How to Clean Driving Records?

It's always a good idea to keep your driving record clean by practicing defensive driving and being aware on the road. The better you drive, the cleaner your record will be. But accidents happen and a small mistake shouldn't ruin your record forever. There are several ways to clean your driving record:

  • Contest Tickets: If you believe you have been ticketed without cause, or you can realistically explain the conditions that led to your actions, contesting tickets can be a great way to keep your records clean.
  • Safe Driver Courses: Safe driver courses are usually available for a nominal fee through state-certified organizations like AAA. These can help improve your chances of favorable outcomes in traffic court by showing the judge you are making an effort to improve your driving.
  • Fix Ticket Cause: If you have received a warning about something small like a broken tail light, make sure to get it fixed! Repairing a busted turn signal or malfunctioning headlight can be the difference between keeping your record clean and getting a hefty fine.
  • Expunge Your Record: Some states will offer provisions that allow you to expunge certain offenses from your driving record. Look at your local DMV or DOL website to see what criteria needs to be met and follow the instructions provided.