Every year, millions of people in the U.S. receive citations for traffic violations ranging from speeding to driving under the influence (DUI) to failing to stop at a traffic light or stop sign. Maintaining a clean driving record is not always easy.
Many states use a point system to keep tabs on violations. The more serious the offense, the higher the number of points. Of course, racking up a lot of points for a number of minor violations over a short period isn’t good, either. Too many points and your driver’s license could be suspended. A lot of points on your driving record also means you could end up paying more for car insurance. No points, however, equals what most people call a “clean driving record.”
A clean driving record can make a lot of difference in how much you pay for car insurance. The savings could be substantial. That said, just because your driving record is less than stellar now, doesn’t mean you have to be hit with higher rates forever. Learn how to clear your driving record and enjoy saving on premiums with a clean-driver discount.
What Is a Clean Driving Record?
A clean driving record means you have no (or minimal) violations or accidents on your driving record. Any points or fines you have received will work against you. While what is considered a clean driving record might vary depending upon the insurer, even minor infractions can result in higher insurance premiums.
If you only have one or two minor moving violations over the past three years or longer, some insurance companies may still consider your record “clean.”
Have you filed a lot of claims? That could count against you, too. Your driving record can reveal information about risky driving behavior. Failing to pay fines, not showing up for a court appearance, frequent accidents, and more can fall under this category.
Requesting Your Driving Record
Your driving history is a matter of public record. You should know what it looks like, especially when planning to buy car insurance.
Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a copy of your driving record. You may have to pay a small fee. If you already have car insurance, you can request a copy of your motor vehicle summary from your insurance carrier who may have it on file and be willing to provide it to you for free. Review your driving record carefully to ensure there are no errors. If you see a mistake, report it immediately to the DMV. Addressing errors is the easiest way to get a jump on clearing your driving record!
How Does a Clean Driving Record Affect Your Insurance Rates?
While every insurer calculates premiums differently, your driving record plays a large role in determining the price of your rate. In general, drivers with cleaner records pay less for insurance than equivalent drivers with imperfect records. Car insurance is a risk-based business and insurance companies see drivers with imperfect records as high-risk drivers, or drivers who are more likely to file a claim. As a result, insurers increase your premiums to offset the additional risk they’re taking on by covering you. Some insurers will even refuse to cover you if your driving record is bad enough. In this case, you need to seek out a company that specializes in high-risk insurance. Conversely, if you have a clean driving record, you might qualify for a safe-driver discount and save on your insurance premiums.
How to Get a Driving Record Cleared
Your driving record is not permanently set in stone. It evolves over time, and the best way to clear your driving record (and keep it clear) is by driving responsibly and obeying all traffic laws. In the meantime, you can take steps to obtain a clean driving record.
Get started by contesting your citation in court if you feel you were wrongly cited or charged. While it’s common to fight any major charges, such as a DUI, if you can show it was false, think about going before a judge to contest more minor violations, too. Even a relatively small infraction can end up costing you more money in premiums. If you weren’t at fault or didn’t break the law, make the effort to tell it to a judge.
Explaining the situation could cause the judge to throw out or reduce the charges. You may want to seek the help of a traffic lawyer in contesting any charges.
Getting a driver record cleared through expungement can be possible, although the process will generally require a lawyer. An expungement seals the record, removing the traffic violation from your driving record for good. In most scenarios, it is as if the offense did not occur. Whether expungement is worth pursuing depends on the seriousness of the offense.
State laws vary when it comes to expungement. Some states don’t have an expungement process for minor traffic incidents in place. There are specific criteria drivers must meet to qualify for expungement, which also varies by state. Typically, expungement applications are only considered a few years after the conviction date. Often, expungement is available only to first-time offenders.
Find out more about requirements for expungement in your state and whether this an option for you by contacting a local traffic lawyer. While a driver can file the expungement paperwork with the court themselves, it is a complicated procedure. The DIY approach can result in improperly filled-out documentation, which could spell the end of your claim.
If your driving history needs some work, taking some courses can help. Some insurance companies will lower rates for customers who take and pass a defensive driving class, while others may offer course discounts.
Some jurisdictions will remove points from the record if the driver completes the course successfully.
The Look-Back Period
Car insurance companies aren’t allowed to view your entire motor vehicle report, but they are permitted to review a summary. Their list includes accidents and moving violations. If someone is convicted of a driving offense, that information is in the summary.
How far back the insurance carrier can go to check your record–the look-back period–depends on state law. The average range is between 3 and 5 years. DUIs may have much longer look-back periods. Once the look-back period is over, those violations are no longer part of the formula used to determine your premiums.
While all drivers should shop around when looking for car insurance, that’s especially true of those without a clean driving record. You may find that certain insurers don’t penalize the violations on your record as harshly as others. Look for companies that specialize in providing coverage for high-risk drivers.
Ride With The General®
At The General®, we realize that not everyone has a clean driving record. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to cheap car insurance online. We know that high-risk drivers require transportation so that they can work and feed their families. Our famous flexibility helps when it comes to insurance since it applies to all customers. At The General®, we’ve always got your back. Get a car insurance quote in under two minutes today and see how much you can save.