It is important to have an impressive driving history. A clean record offers several benefits including massive savings on your car insurance. The best way to be aware of your driving record is to keep an eye on it.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can check your driving record in California.
What is a California Driving Record?
Also called the Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), a California Driving Record is a document that covers a person’s driving history.
It can also be defined as a “collection of all public records related to you as a driver.”
Everyone with a valid driver’s license has a driving record.
Driving records help insurance companies and law enforcement gauge how reliable of a driver you are. The record contains information including points that can remain on your record for up to 10 years based on the offense and your location.
California drivers also need a driving record for a variety of reasons. We’ll talk about these later in this article.
What Does a California Driving Record Contain?
You will find the following information on your record:
- Convictions including fines and DUIs
- Traffic Violations including traffic tickets
- Suspensions and Revocations
- License Expiration
- License Number
In addition to this, a license contains personal information including your name, gender, and address.
A driving record doesn’t include:
- Non-moving violations
- Non-driving related history
We must mention that the information found on a driving record typically changes from state to state.
Is Driving Record a Confidential Document?
Even though it contains private information, a driving record is not typically considered a confidential document.
The answer to this question, however, isn’t black and white as it largely depends on your location. But, for clarity, not everyone can get access to your driver record. Plus, the DMV doesn’t issue confidential details.
Here’s what the official site says:
“Confidential information, such as your address or social security number (SSN), is not considered public record, and is therefore not shared.”
Most states require consent before issuing reports. Moreover, you will need the driver’s personal information in order to request their driving record. Only individuals with information such as the driver’s license number can get access to a driver’s record.
How To Check My Driving Record In California
There are several ways to get a copy of your driving record. Here are your available options. While they typically offer the same thing, the cost and the timeline may differ.
1. The DMV
There are several ways to do it. You can choose to get a digital or physical copy by submitting a request.
All request forms must contain the following:
- The record number/title
- Business name (if applicable)
- The number of copies you want
- Phone number
- Street address (No PO box allowed)
- Contact name
Here are the available methods:
- Visit The DMV Office
You can visit a DMV office and request your driver record. You will have to show proof of identity, such as a state ID card or driver’s license, in order to request your record.
According to the official page, “requests made in-person at a DMV field office for your own driver or vehicle record are processed during your visit. You will be given the records during your visit.”
This is why the in-person method is considered the fastest option to get an official copy of your record.
There are several DMV offices in the state. Go here to find the office closest to you.
You will find a complete list and map of the nearest offices. Look at the map or enter your ZIP code to find the nearest office.
It costs $5 to receive a copy. However, remember that the DMV doesn’t typically accept credit cards, hence make sure to keep some cash. Other payment methods include check, debit card/ATM, and money order.
- Send By Mail
You can choose to get a copy by sending a request to the DMV by mail at this address:
DMV Information Release Unit
PO Box 944247
Sacramento, CA 94244-2470
The fee remains $5; however, you may have to cover additional charges (mail). Use this method if you’re not in a hurry as it is among the slowest options.
The DMV does not offer expedited shipping and the process can take up to a week. It might be a good idea to be proactive so that you don’t have to wait to get your hands on your record.
You will have to fill and submit Form INF 1125 in order to get an official copy. Go here to access the form. It is easy to fill as you will only be asked to provide basic information.
- Request By Phone
You can choose to request records by calling (916) 657-8098. The system will ask you to provide details such as your license number.
- Apply Online
It is possible to get an unofficial copy of your record by applying online.
You must be a registered DMV user in order to get your copy online. Go here and sign up for an account.
You will have to choose your ID and password and provide the required information such as your name and date of birth. Registration is immediate.
As a registered user, you will not only get to access your driving record but other documents as well.
Login to your account and request a copy of your driving record. You will be able to view your record online or choose to print it for personal use.
Online copies are cheaper and faster. They cost $2 and you will get the document right away. Payment methods include e-checks and credit cards.
2. Vehicle Insurance Agents
Auto insurance agents can help you get your driving report as they can access it. The copies issued by insurance agencies are unofficial and uncertified. The fee changes from agent to agent and some might be willing to offer a copy for free.
3. Third-Party Vendors
Businesses usually opt to work with third-party vendors despite it being less reliable and more expensive than other options. Reports produced by third-party vendors are not always accurate as they’re usually dated.
We don’t suggest you opt for this option as it comes with little to no benefits. However, if you must opt for a third-party vendor then it is best that you choose a provider who offers official reports.
Some providers can apply to the DMV on your behalf and get you official reports. Confirm this factor beforehand to avoid issues.
Can I Get Someone Else’s Driving Record?
It is possible to get someone else’s driving record in California. The system is simple and straightforward:
- Fill and submit Form INF 70 if you intend to pull someone else’s record. Click here or go to the official California DMV website to access the form.
- You’ll be asked to not only provide the driver’s information but your personal details as well including your name, contact number, and address. You must have the driver’s name, date of birth, and license number to complete the form. Otherwise, your application will not get approved.
- You can opt for a photocopy or an automated report. Photocopies are slow and cost $20. They include the driver’s state ID or driver’s license application and photo as well. On the other hand, automated reports only cost $5. They’re computer-generated, hence very quick.
You will have to explain why you wish to get someone else’s driving record. The DMV will accept your application only if they find your reason justified.
Some of the reasons the DMV considers legal and valid include:
- Matters related to insurance
- Issues related to vehicle theft or safety
- Civil, arbitration, or criminal proceedings
- Needed to verify the record of applicants who intend to join as drivers
- For business activities, such as to verify the accuracy of details provided by a contractor.
These requests can be sent in-person or via mail. Include a money order or check with your application if you’re not paying in person.
Review the completed form, sign it, and submit it to this address:
Department of Motor Vehicles Public Operations — G199
P.O. Box 944247
Sacramento, CA 94244-2470
The DMV allows businesses to request orders in bulk (more than 15). The process, however, slightly differs. You will have to contact the DMV Materials Management Section to request bulk orders.
Here are the contact details:
Fax: (916) 928-6817
DMV Materials Management Section
4201 Sierra Point Dr. Ste. 112
Sacramento, CA 95834
Why It’s Important to Have a Good Driver Record
Not having a good driving record can turn out to be very costly. Here’s why it’s important to have an impressive record:
- Help You Save Money
You can’t own a vehicle without having vehicle insurance. The interesting thing is that there’s no fixed vehicle insurance cost as the amount depends on a variety of factors, most importantly your driving record.
The national average cost stands at is $1,592 per year, which is about $133 per month. However, that’s what a good driver pays. Bad drivers will pay more – as punishment for bad driving habits.
Insurance companies will look at your driving record to gauge how risky you are. The worse your record, the more you will have to pay.
Try to keep your record as clean as you can to ensure you don’t have to spend heavily on motor insurance.
- Important for Jobs
A large number of employers look at driving records when hiring employees, especially when the job requires the person to drive. They can’t afford to hire a person with a bad record as it does not only increase the likelihood of accidents and other issues, but it also puts their image at risk.
In most cases, employers will have rights to your DMV record and they may not always ask you to submit one. They can get in touch with agencies or the DMV to pull your record.
- Can Affect Your Driving Privileges
The government doesn’t want bad drivers on the road and they have special punishment for drivers with an unimpressive record.
Every time you break the law, one or more points get added to your record. You may end up losing your right to drive if you reach a specific threshold. Serious offenses such as a DUI violation results in more numbers than a non-serious offense like a speeding ticket.
First time offenders usually get their license limited but repeated offenders can get it suspended or revoked. This is why it is important to obey the law and avoid getting tickets in California.
- Worsen Legal Issues
Attorneys can use your records in court to prove you’re a bad driver. Courts don’t look at bad drivers in a very good light.
A clean record shows you’re a good, law-abiding citizen. Such records can turn out to be very beneficial during court cases.
- Bad For Your Social Life
A bad driving record means having to pay heavy fines when you’re caught. Plus, it can also make it difficult to find your new house since it is common for landlords to run a background check. Some prefer to stay away from tenants that are risky drivers as it can put their property and the neighborhood at risk.
Some reports suggest that individuals with a bad driving record are often under a lot of fear and pressure not only due to limitations they face but also due to the risk of losing driving privileges.
Why Is My Driving Record Of Importance to the Insurance Company?
As stated earlier, insurance companies use driving records to gauge how risky or reliable you are as a driver.
More points indicate you’re risky, which means you’ll have to pay more for insurance.
“Someone with a number of speeding tickets or other citations is more likely to have an accident. Since accidents cost insurance companies money in the form of claim payouts, they’ll charge you more if you are a risky driver,” says Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars.
He further explains: “Scrutinizing your driving record is one way for them to figure out how much they need to charge you to cover any potential claims you might make.”
We must mention that not all infractions are weighted equally as shown in this 2018 report. Premium increases vary according to the type of violation. The more serious or repetitive a violation, the higher will be the financial burden.
“Not wearing a seat belt could get you a four percent increase, an at-fault accident could mean a 40 percent rate increase, and a hit and run would be an 85 percent premium hike,” explains Deaton.
Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Your Driving Record
It is possible for a driving report to have mistakes. This is why it is very important that you get your hands on your driving record and pay special attention to it.
There might be a calculation error or omissions. For example, if you attended traffic school then your driving record should reflect it in the form of reduced points (if applicable).
In some rare cases, you might have received points for something you didn’t commit. Such problems are unfortunately common, which is why we suggest that you have a look at your report every year.
Reading a Driving Record Made Easy
Merely having a report can never be enough, you must know how to read it. A driving record doesn’t only contain personal information but also any restriction you may have on your license.
Knowing what exactly your driving record says will help you prepare for difficult situations. Reading a record will not only help you know where you stand in terms of performance but also help you identify issues and ensure the document is not outdated.
Most driving records are easy to read but some can be a little complicated, especially if they contain multiple codes and restrictions.
Let’s start with the process:
Reading Your Record: Personal Information
The document contains abbreviations:
- B/D is for date of birth
- RES ADD is for residential address
- HT is for height
- WT is for weight
Ensure that the information matches the details found on your driver’s license.
Reading Your Record: License Details
As mentioned earlier, the record contains information about your driver’s license. Once again, you will see some abbreviations:
- DL/NO is for driver’s license number
- LIC/ISS is for the issue DATE
- EXP is for the expiration date
Make sure this information is correct and that it matches the particulars found on your driver’s license.
Reading Your Record: Driving History
Let’s now talk about the most important part, your driving history. Look for the following abbreviations:
- COURT for courthouse number
- VIOL/DT for the date when the violation occurred. Look for VIOL/DT to find the specific violation
- DKT/NO refers to the docket number, which is the same as a court case number
You might not see all these abbreviations on your record. For example, there may be no COURT section on your history if you’ve never appeared in court due to a traffic violation.
Reading Your Record: Driving Violations
It can be a little tricky to identify violations since California uses a special code system that can be difficult for the average person to understand. Refer to the California Vehicle Code for a complete understanding.
Look and identify all restrictions on your driving record. New drivers have a special section on their record that mentions who they can drive in a car with and when such restrictions will end.
The system automatically removes restrictions after a specific period of time.
What Can I Do If There’s a Mistake on My Driving Record?
Get in touch with your DMV right away and let it know of the issue. You will be asked to provide details including proof that can be in the form of court resolutions, payments, and insurance judgments.
Explain why you think it’s an error and what can or should be done to correct it.
In some cases, the DMV might ask you to appear in person before a decision can be made on your request.
We hope this information has answered all questions you have about checking your driving record in California. Get in touch with us if you have any queries.