Most of us only go to the DMV’s office or website when we hand in old license plates, have car registration problems that need to be addressed, or sign up for a driving test. As a result, many people don’t know how many points are on their driving record, that they have traffic violations that still need to be addressed, or that old convictions they thought were deleted from their driving record long ago are still there. Alcohol or drug-related convictions from 15 years ago or longer may still be visible on your driving record, depending on the state in which you live. There are numerous reasons why you should look at the status of your driving record once a year. Here are some the primary ones:
1. LICENSE SUSPENSION. As a traffic lawyer in New York City and Westchester County, I have seen many people with no idea that the increasing number of driving points on their record leaves them dangerously close to a license suspension. When they do discover their precarious situation, they immediately run to contact a legal expert like me to help them reduce or offset some of these points to avoid suspension. Most of us count on our cars for everyday life and the suspension of a license would be highly inconvenient if not disastrous. Safety should be enough reason to motivate us to drive responsibly. But, if it’s not, knowing that the DMV is only points away from suspending your license will give added incentive.
2. CAR INSURANCE COSTS. Your driving history influences your car insurance costs. Car insurance agencies assess your driving record, which is based on the number of points you have, to determine auto insurance rates. Riskier drivers with more violations be charged higher insurance rates.
3. EMPLOYMENT POTENTIAL. Your driving record will show up in background checks. Employers can check your driving record as part of an employment screening review. This is especially likely if your job involves operating a vehicle. And, if you’re a high school student, keep in mind that colleges may ask about your driving record as well.
4. MISINFORMATION. There could be inaccurate information on your driving record about traffic tickets, accidents, moving violations, fines, convictions, and license revocations. Knowledge is power. Review your record and then do what you can to improve it.
You can order a copy of your DMV driving record online, at your local DMV office, on the phone, or by mail by providing some identifying information and paying a minimal fee. There are different types of driving records you can order, depending on your need. In New York State, you can order a:
Masked driving record abstract
Non-certified driving record from third-party providers
To learn more about each of these different types of records, check your state’s DMV site. (In New York, go to: https://www.dmv.org/ny-new-york/driving-records.php.)
If you discover an inaccuracy on your DMV record, contact your DMV office immediately, as the misinformation could prevent you from getting a job or having to pay higher rates for car insurance. If you live in New York, contact the NY DMV call center at (518) 486-9786 on weekdays between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm (Eastern Time).