There are countless reasons you might want to do a background check on a driver. In particular, if you are an employer and you are in the midst of hiring a new employee — someone who will be driving as part of their new position — you might want to know about their driving history. Maybe you want to check your own driving record, just to figure out where you stand and what sort of paper trail you’ve got. Maybe you and your child have some sort of deal regarding who pays for their insurance which depends upon a spotless record.
The following will first break down what a driving record actually entails and then the various factors that affect the legality of looking up someone’s record, methodological options depending on why you are seeking this information as well as tips to keep in mind when you are looking at a driving history report. As with anything involving the legal system, if you are unsure where your particular case lies, always consult the guidance of a legal professional
What is a Driving Record?
A driving record will include, foremost, the status of a person’s driver’s license. This might be useful if you are looking for confirmation that the driver you are considering hiring does actually have their license. The record will also reveal what classifications and endorsements the driver has and if any defensive driving courses were attended.
Beyond these basic pieces of data, a driving record will also include things like driving pints, convictions related to driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, any fees or citations owed, the expiration date of the driver’s license, any traffic accidents they’ve been involved in, as well as any convictions and fines related to moving violations.
The Legality of Viewing Someone’s Driving Record
In most states, privacy laws are in place which protects people from having their driving record witnessed by someone without their permission. In nearly every case, you will first need to get the permission of the individual whose record you would like to see. The one big exception to this common rule is insurance companies, as there is what is called an “implied need.” This being said, if you fall under this category, as you are an insurer, you legally agree to keep the information private and use it only as it relates to the business at hand.
More than likely, this will not be too difficult for you. If you have yet to release a job posting, it will take next to no time to include in the posting that a driving record check will be required. This is a completely reasonable request if a position requires driving, and it is highly probable that someone applying for a driving job expects this. If the hiring process is already underway, simply ask the candidate if they would feel comfortable having their driving record seen by you.
Methods of Viewing Records
Depending on the reason you are viewing someone’s record, you may have to go about it differently. If you are screening a potential employee your best option would be to go through whatever state system is in place where you live, through the appropriate Department of Motor Vehicles website. If it is more of a curiosity search, you can use an online search engine (there are several that allow you to search driving history using a few pieces of basic information.)
Whichever route you choose to find a driver’s record, being respectful is of the utmost importance. Those at DMVRecords.us.org emphasize that this information should never be used to take discriminative action against someone. Additionally, the information on a person’s driving record should never be used to stalk or spy on people or to steal someone’s identity.
Interpreting Driving Points
It is important when you are viewing someone’s driving record that you are aware of the point system in the state where the violations occurred and the points were docked. Each state has its own points system and so the information will be largely useless if you do not understand the severity of the points.
For example, running a stop sign in California will result in the addition of a single point, left on your record for three years. In New York, the same crime will result in the addition of three to four points and will be left on the record for eighteen months. It is also worth noting that the following states have no points system:
- Rhode Island
Each of these states has a different system for suspending a driver’s license involving the number of violations and the severity of those violations during a given period of time.
Can You Trust Someone’s Driving Record as Accurate?
Loosely speaking, a driving record will give you a really strong idea of someone’s driving skill. This being said, most states remove points after a certain period of time, so the record you view will likely only reflect recent driving, not the lifetime history of a driver.
In addition to time, many states allow the removal of points if an individual takes certain classes. Please note, this is a popular choice for people regardless of whether they have gathered any points as many of these courses result in lower insurance rates.
In conclusion, when you are thinking of researching someone’s driving record, you must first be sure you are following the law. There are privacy laws put in place that make it illegal for you to look up someone’s driving history without their permission.
The routes you can legally take to find a copy of a driving record vary depending on your reasons for searching. Those who are screening employees will need to go through their appropriate state channels, whereas those who have the basic information regarding the license and who are searching out of curiosity, will likely save time and energy by using an online search engine.
Always be respectful of people’s personal information, and share none of what you see with others, no matter the reason for your interest in an individual’s driving record.
Interesting related article: “What comes up in a Background Check?”