What is a driving record and what does it track?


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UPDATED: 2020-02-18T16:05:49.222Z
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We’ve written here before about how having a clean driving record can help you to save money on your car insurance, but what is a driving record and what does it track?

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A driving record, defined

Your driving record includes a combination of facts about you (such as where you live and your mailing address, for example) and also data about your driving history.

Your driving history part of your record will contain information on any violations that you’ve accumulated, such as traffic tickets and a record of any car accidents you’ve been involved in. Tickets can range in severity from minor infractions such as a parking violation, to serious ones, such as a DUI.

This is the type of information that will be included in a driving record.

What is a points system on a driving record?

Most states keep track of driving violations using a points system. Drivers receive points on their record, with differing numbers of points that vary depending on the severity of the infraction. If a driver accumulates too many points within a short period of time, a state can take action such as requiring a driver education course or, in some situations, they can suspend a driver’s license.

Points can stay on a driving record for different lengths of time. Minor violations will typically remain on a driving record for around three years, while more serious violations can stay on for much longer, sometimes permanently.

The length of time that points stay on your driving record can vary considerably from state to state, so if you’re wondering how long a speeding ticket stays on your driving record, you’ll need to see what the laws are in your state.

If you were issued a warning by a law enforcement officer, rather than a citation, consider yourself fortunate. Warnings, even written ones, will not appear on your driving record and likely won’t affect your car insurance rates.

There are three reasons to take written warnings seriously, even though they don’t go on your driving record:

  • First and foremost, it indicates that your driving could have resulted in a citation that would appear on your driving record, but the law enforcement officer used his or her judgment to determine that a reminder of what the law is would be sufficient. Don’t take that for granted. Change the driving behavior that led to the warning in order to be safer on the roads and potentially avoid a future moving violation.
  • Second, while a written warning or verbal warning won’t go on your driving record, many law enforcement agencies will record a warning in their computer systems. If you’re pulled over again for the same violation, the officer that pulls you over will know about it. You will likely get a ticket the next time.
  • Lastly, in some states, if you accumulate a certain number of written warnings, your driver’s license could be suspended.

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Reducing points, an option to consider

Many states offer ways for drivers to reduce points that have accumulated on a license. If the driving violation is a minor one, in some states you can choose to pay a fee rather than having points added to your driving record. It might make sense to pay the fine rather than having points on your record since having points on your record can affect your car insurance premium rates.

Another option offered by some states is the potential to have points reduced after you’ve successfully finished a driver safety/driver education course. Again, while it might be time-consuming and inconvenient to take the course, if you have points on your record, it might make sense to complete a class. This could help you avoid an even larger auto insurance premium increase.

How are your insurance rates affected by your driving record?

Insurers determine what your premium insurance rates will be based on assessment of the level of risk you pose as a driver. Drivers with clean driving records, with no traffic violations or accidents, represent a lower risk. Drivers with many traffic tickets or a high number of points represent a greater level of risk, as they are more likely to be involved in an accident that could result in a claim.

So, if you have multiple violations or points, your car insurance rates will likely be higher.

Reviewing your driving record

Given that your driving record has such a direct impact on the monthly rates that you pay for car insurance, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your driving record is accurate. Similar to a credit report, your driving record may contain inaccuracies. While minor mistakes, such as an incorrect zip code, won’t make a difference in your insurance rates, something like the omission of a successful completion of a driver safety course would.

Each state has a process established through which a driver can request to review their driving record. If you’ve received a ticket, find out how long the points should stay on your driving record and then research what you’ll need to do in your state to request your driving record.

If you’ve been in an accident, or are just beyond the time frame from which points should have aged off of your driving record, go through your state’s process to secure a copy of your driving record and verify that the information in it is accurate and up to date.

Now that you know what a driving record is and what is tracked on one, you should have a good understanding of why it’s important to maintain a clean driving record. If you do have speeding tickets or other points on your record, find out how long they are scheduled to remain on your record. Then check to make sure that they are removed from your record when they are supposed to by getting a copy of your driving record and reviewing it.

If you’re looking to change your car insurance carrier, read some reviews of what other customers are saying about their car insurance companies. Be sure to find out which companies consumers say are the best in your zip code by visiting Clearsurance’s car insurance rankings page.

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