A great way to qualify for low insurance rates is to keep a clean driving record. But what exactly does that mean? And what should you do if you already have a ticket or an accident on your driving history? How do you avoid paying high rates for years?

And now, many employers are using driving records for background checks. If you’re picking up a part-time rideshare or delivery job, you don’t want to miss some extra cash because of a few lousy violations. When a record gets bad, drivers can even have their licenses suspended or revoked. 

Don’t worry. You won’t need to rub a lamp and wait for a genie to grant you a wish. This guide should answer questions and give you simple steps that work almost like magic. As you improve your record, check Insurify for the cheap car insurance you deserve.

What Is a Driving Record?

Your motor vehicle record (MVR) is an official document you get from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You’ll find:

  • Personal Information like Your Name, Sex, and Physical Address
  • Driver’s License Classification, Expiration Date, Endorsements, Number, and Status
  • Accidents
  • Citations, Fees, and Fines
  • Moving Violations, DUI/DWI Convictions
  • Traffic School or Defensive Driving Courses
  • Points
  • Revocations and Suspensions

Your driving record will not show non-moving violations or any criminal history that’s not related to driving. Most violations drop off after three to five years, depending on the state. But serious offenses, such as DUI, may stay on your record for 10 years or longer.

If you move out of state, your driving record will generally follow you, but there can be differences. For example, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and South Dakota only record speeding tickets from other states that are over 10 mph above the speed limit. So it’s best to check with your new state’s local DMV.

What Makes a Clean Driving Record?

When your driving history is free of any accidents, moving violations, or points, you have a clean driving record. Here’s a quick rundown of things to avoid to keep a clean driving record:

  • Mechanical Violations, like a Broken Brake Light, Taillight, or Turn Signal
  • Minor Moving Violations, such as Failure to Signal, Red Light Running, or Speeding
  • Distracted Driving Violations, like Texting While Driving or Talking on a Cell Phone While Driving
  • Accidents (especially At-Fault)
  • License and Insurance Violations, such as Driving Without Insurance or with a Suspended License
  • Serious Violations, like Reckless Driving, Excessive Speeding, or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol or Drugs

Why Is a Clean Driving Record Important?

Insurers give their best rates to good drivers with clean histories, and employers may choose not to hire a candidate if they don’t pass the driving background check. Here are some pointers to help you with insurance companies and employers:

Insurance Companies

All insurers use a CLUE report for your claims history, and they can access the data on your motor vehicle report. It’s good to know that parking tickets don’t affect your rate.

Every company is different. One insurance provider may let you slide on one or two minor moving violations, while another company will look at your number of claims. It’s common for the same driver to get 30 percent different rates between companies. That’s why it’s essential to use an auto insurance comparison sites like Insurify to shop around.

Employers

Every employer has different criteria when hiring. If you have accidents or violations in your history, it’s best not the lie on your application. The employer will most likely find out, and telling less than the truth could cost you the position. Up-front honesty and documentation for extenuating circumstances could make them see your driving history in the right light.

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10 Ways to Get a Clean Driving Record

Here are 10 general tips to help you out and some tips for special circumstances:

1. Drive Safe

An ounce of ticket prevention is worth a pound of cash. At-fault accidents, speeding tickets, and DUIs are three common sources of high-risk auto insurance rates. A DUI can increase your yearly insurance costs by 79 percent according to one industry study. If you can avoid these three, you go a long way to keeping your insurance premiums affordable. Defensive driving is still the best way to stay safe on the road and savvy with your wallet.

2. Check Your Driving Record

There are three ways to get a copy of your driving record. First, the best approach is to pay around $10, depending on the state, to your DMV and get a copy online, in person, or through the mail. Second, if you have your driver’s license number, you can find out what shows up through your insurance company. But this report doesn’t give you everything. Third, you can try a third-party vendor. There are many online, but the cost is about twice as much as the DMV, and they sometimes have errors. So please read reviews before selecting a company.

You should check your MVR any time you think there’d be changes—specifically around three years after an infraction or after completing a driver’s course, to make sure your points are reduced. It also may be an excellent time to check before applying for any driving-related jobs.

Once you have it, you’re looking for mistakes such as a ticket that traffic school should have removed or a camera violation when someone else drove your vehicle. If you do find an error, it’s on to the next step. 

3. Contact the DMV

Reach out to the DMV if you just discovered something on your record, recently got a ticket, or just moved to the state. Ask how to get rid of errors, points, or tickets, and what documentation you’ll need. 

4. Take Care of “Fix-It” Tickets

What is a fix-it ticket? It’s one where you can take corrective action to amend the situation. Typical examples are:

  • Car Registration Violations: Your vehicle had an expired registration.
  • Driver’s License Violations: You forgot your license at home.
  • Equipment Violations: You had a broken turn signal.
  • Insurance Violations: You misplaced your insurance card.

Proof of correction is usually all you need to show the judge or DMV to have the ticket dismissed.

5. Request Deferment or Expungement

Deferment lets you pay a fine to the state to keep a clean driving record after a ticket. If you stay ticket-free during the period, typically a year, the violation falls off your history. Expungement removes a violation altogether after a certain period of safe driving behavior, such as five or seven years after a DUI.

6. Fight the Ticket

Most people don’t contest tickets. They may want to skip the hassle, missed day of work, or time in the courts. But it’s entirely possible to win. Often cops don’t even show up, and cases are dismissed. For example, the Washington Examiner found that people won 58 percent of all traffic ticket cases in Washington, D.C. 

That’s better than a coin flip going your way. The National Motorists Association says you should always fight your tickets whether you believe you were partially in the wrong or not. 

Present the facts, avoid excuses, provide documentation, and share extenuating circumstances. Your account of rushing your child to the emergency room may be all the judge needs to hear to dismiss your case.

7. Attend Traffic School

These are also called defensive driving classes. Most courses last between four and 12 hours and can be completed online or in person depending upon the state and sometimes the county. Courses go over accident prevention, road awareness, and even vehicle maintenance.

Criminal and major violations like DUI won’t qualify for driving school reductions. You always want to check the state’s pre-approved list of courses. Also, point systems and how often you can attend traffic school vary by state. For example, California allows once every 18 months and can mask (not remove) one point, while Illinois and Texas let you scratch a ticket once every 12 months.

8. Pay Fines Promptly

Someone said common sense is the most uncommon thing in the world. The number of drivers who lose, misplace, or simply forget to pay tickets may surprise you. When people forget to pay, the state can suspend or revoke their licenses. And your insurance rates can be increased for several years for not paying a relatively small fine.

9. Get a Lawyer

What if you have excessive speeding tickets, DUIs, or a severe accident on your record? You may want to hire a lawyer. The average costs of a DUI are between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on the state. Lawyers may manage your whole case, or you can pay for them to draft specific documents and advise you on the best way to beat the ticket. 

10. Wait It Out

Some penalties just can’t be removed, so your only choice is to wait. Three years is usually the most time, but a serious offense could take longer. While exercising patience, shop around for better insurance rates every six months with a car insurance comparison tool like Insurify

Special Tips for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Pre-Employment

Rideshare car insurance and delivery driver car insurance are their own special beasts in and of themselves. Special dispensations apply for service drivers as well as anyone looking for driving-based employment opportunities.

Uber

For both rideshare and Uber Eats delivery, your driving license must be free from significant driving violations or multiple minor violations. 

Lyft

For Lyft, your driving record must have:

  • No More than Three Moving Violations
  • No Major Violations in the Past Three Years
  • No DUIs or Other Drug-Related Violations in the Past Seven Years
  • No Serious Driving-Related Convictions in the Past Seven Years (Such as Felonies or Hit-and-Runs)

DoorDash

You can’t be a dasher if you have:

  • More than Three Moving Violations, such as Accidents, Speeding Tickets, Driving Without Insurance, or Stoplight Violations
  • A DUI or Drug-Related Traffic Offenses on Your DMV Record in the Last Seven Years
  • Drug-Related Offenses in the Past Seven Years

Pre-Employment

Often, over one or two minor traffic violations or one major violation can cost you a new job. But don’t stretch the truth on your application. Supply documentation for any serious offenses. Perhaps extenuating circumstances may allow you to get the job still.

Clean Driving Record FAQ

What is considered a clean driving record?

When your driving history is free of accidents, moving violations, or points, you have a clean driving record. Sometimes insurance companies or employers may treat you as if you had a perfect record for minor violations, such as a single speeding ticket. Every insurance company and employer is a little different, but a perfect driving record should qualify for the best rates or help you pass the background check.

How do I get a clean driving record?

There are 10 ways to help you get a clean record. You can: Drive Safe Check Your Driving Record Contact the DMV Take Care of "Fix-It" Tickets Request Deferment or Expungement Fight the Ticket Attend Traffic School Pay Fines Promptly Get a Lawyer  Wait It Out

Where can I compare car insurance quotes online for free?

Whether you're fixing your record or already have a perfect one, you should check a website that collects quotes from the auto insurance companies available in your area. Find a car insurance comparison tool like Insurify to compare up to 10+ real quotes for your combined driver profile and unlock savings and car insurance discounts. Rates can vary based on your driving history and personal profile, but you should be able to find a competitive price. Insurify provides the cheapest car insurance quotes from local companies in just a few minutes. 

Conclusion: How to get the best and cheapest car insurance

It’s not quite a magic carpet, but the first step to the rate you deserve is safe driving. When you have no accidents, moving violations, or points, you’ll be well on your way. Remember, every insurance company and employer treats your driving record differently, but following some of the strategies in this article will get you the car insurance price of your dreams. 

You can use Insurify to compare the best car insurance rates, coverage options, and companies personalized for your price point. Get free auto insurance quotes today on America’s best-rated auto insurance comparison site.

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Updated July 26, 2021

Courtney Roy is a financial and technology copywriter. He creates content that makes an actionable difference in the life of his readers. In addition to years of experience across multiple industries, Courtney has insurance licenses, a real estate license, and a degree in electrical engineering. He and his wife chase their five kids in the Phoenix, Arizona sun. You can learn more at thecopyprophet.com.