There are a lot of good reasons to check your California driving record.
You might need to provide it for a job. You might need a copy for your auto insurance company. You might use it as evidence in legal proceedings, request it as part of a license reinstatement process, or just want to check your driving record to make sure it’s accurate.
So how do you do so?
In California, there are a few different ways to request your driving record. Below, we’ll cover all of them in detail, as well as how to interpret your record and what to do if you find inconsistencies or inaccuracies.
What is a California Driving Record?
A California driving record (also known as a motor vehicle record, or MVR) is a document that provides a comprehensive overview of your driving history and can be used by employers, insurance companies, and law enforcement agencies to assess your driving behavior and potential risk.
California Driving Record (MVR) Example
The record contains various information related to your driving, including:
- Personal information. This includes your full name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and other identifying information.
- Driver’s license classification. This shows whether you have a noncommercial or commercial driver’s license, and whether you have no endorsements (basic or Class C license), a motorcycle endorsement (Class M1 or M2), a travel trailer/fifth wheel endorsement (Class A), or a housecar/motorhome endorsement (Class B).
- Driver’s license status. This shows the status of your driver’s license, including whether it is valid, suspended, or revoked.
- Traffic violations. This section lists any traffic violations you have received in California, including speeding tickets, red light violations, and other moving violations.
- Accidents. This section lists any accidents you have been involved in while driving in California, including the date, location, and nature of the accident.
- DUI or DWI convictions. This section lists any convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in California.
- Points on your license. California uses the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), a system where your license can be assigned points for accidents and traffic violations.
- Suspensions or revocations. This section lists any instances where your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked in California.
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL) information. If you have a CDL, this section provides additional information about your CDL status and any violations related to your commercial driving.
Types of California Driving Records
In California, there are three different types of driving records available: unofficial, official, and certified records.
- Unofficial driving record: This is a non-certified record that can be accessed online through the California DMV website. It provides a summary of your driving history, including traffic violations, accidents, and license suspensions. This record is primarily used for personal reference or to check for errors and accuracy.
- Official driving record: This is a more formal record that can be obtained from the California DMV in person or by mail. It provides the same information as the unofficial record but is certified by the DMV. This record is often required by employers, insurance companies, or other third-party organizations as proof of your driving history.
- Certified driving record: This is a legal document that is signed and stamped by the California DMV. It provides the same information as the official record but is used for legal proceedings, such as court cases or insurance claims. This record is often required as evidence of your driving history and is admissible in court.
Laws Concerning California Driving Records
These are the California laws that dictate how and when your driving record can be accessed — by you, or by someone else, like an employer.
Driver’s Privacy Protection Act
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) is a federal law that regulates the release and use of personal information contained in state motor vehicle records, including driving records. The DPPA was enacted to protect the privacy of drivers by restricting the disclosure of their personal information without their consent.
Under the DPPA, personal information contained in a driver’s record may only be disclosed for certain purposes, like by government agencies conducting official business, or by insurers, employers, or other businesses with a legitimate need for the information — but only with the driver’s consent or as authorized by law.
In California, the DPPA applies to all driving records held by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This means that personal information contained in a driver’s record cannot be disclosed to unauthorized third parties without the driver’s consent, except as permitted by the DPPA.
California Vehicle Code
The California Vehicle Code (CVC) contains several sections that dictate the access and use of California driving records. Here are some of the key sections:
- CVC Section 1808.7: This section provides the general provisions for the disclosure of personal information contained in a driver’s record. It prohibits the disclosure of personal information from a driver’s record to unauthorized persons, except as authorized by law.
- CVC Section 1808.21: This section provides the procedures for obtaining a driver’s record, including the types of records available, the permissible uses for the records, and the fees associated with obtaining a record.
- CVC Section 1808.22: This section prohibits the use of personal information contained in a driver’s record for commercial purposes, such as for marketing or solicitation.
- CVC Section 1808.25: This section provides the procedures for correcting errors in a driver’s record, including the process for disputing incorrect information.
- CVC Section 1810: This section provides the penalties for unauthorized access or disclosure of personal information contained in a driver’s record. It also provides the procedures for reporting and investigating violations of the law.
These sections of the CVC are designed to protect the privacy of drivers and regulate the use and disclosure of personal information contained in their records. Anyone who accesses or uses a California driving record must comply with these provisions to avoid violating the law.
California Public Records Act
The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is a state law that gives the public the right to access public records held by state and local government agencies, subject to certain exemptions and restrictions. The CPRA applies to all records maintained by California state and local agencies, including driving records held by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Under the CPRA, members of the public can request copies of driving records, subject to any applicable exemptions. However, the CPRA also allows for certain information to be redacted or withheld from disclosure if it falls within one of the statutory exemptions.
Some of those exemptions include:
- Personal information: Information that is exempt from disclosure under other state or federal laws, such as the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), may also be exempt from disclosure under the CPRA.
- Law enforcement investigations: Information that would interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation or prosecution may be exempt from disclosure.
- Privacy concerns: Information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy may be exempt from disclosure.
It’s important to note that the CPRA does not provide an absolute right of access to driving records. Rather, it requires agencies to balance the public’s right to know with other interests, such as privacy concerns, before disclosing records. In addition, the CPRA provides for various procedures for requesting records, including the timeframes for responding to requests and the fees associated with providing records.
California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act
The California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) is a state law that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer reports for employment and other purposes. The ICRAA applies to investigative consumer reporting agencies (ICRAs), which are defined as agencies that compile reports that include information on a person’s character, reputation, and personal characteristics, and that are obtained through personal interviews, background checks, or other investigations.
The ICRAA includes provisions that apply specifically to driving records held by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Under the ICRAA, an employer or other party seeking to obtain a driver’s record for employment or other purposes must follow certain procedures, including obtaining the driver’s written consent and providing certain disclosures to the driver.
The ICRAA also requires ICRAs to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in their reports. If a driver believes that their driving record has been inaccurately reported or that their rights under the ICRAA have been violated, they may have legal remedies available to them, including the ability to file a complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office.
How to Obtain a California Driving Record
There are three ways you can obtain your California driving record: Online, in person, or by mail.
How to obtain your driving record online:
1. Go to the California DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov.
2. Scroll to the bottom on the homepage.
3. Under “Customer Service,” click “Vehicle or Driver’s Records Requests.”
3. Click “Start driver’s record request.”
4. To start the account registration process, enter and confirm your email address.
5. Confirm your email address by clicking the confirmation link that is emailed to you.
6. Enter your first name, last name, and phone number.
7. Complete your account registration by creating a password.
8. Once your account is registered, click the link to log in.
9. Validate your account by entering your driver’s license or ID number.
10. From the MyDMV page, click “Request Driver’s Record.”
11. Read the disclaimer, click the box to accept it, and click “Continue.”
12. Choose whether to include your address on your driver’s record printout.
13. Note the $2 online record fee, and click “Add to Cart.”
14. Choose your preferred payment method and click “Continue to payment details.”
15. Once your payment is successful, click “View/Print DL Record” to see your driver’s record.
Note that driving records accessed through this online portal are not official or certified. To request a certified driving record, you’ll need to follow the in-person or mail steps below.
How to obtain your driving record in person:
- Find a local California DMV field office near you by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/dmv/offices.
- Make an appointment at the field office or walk in during normal business hours.
- Bring your driver’s license or identification card with you to the appointment or when you walk in.
- Request the type of driving record you want to order and pay the fee.
How to obtain your driving record by mail:
- Download and print the “Request for Driver Record” form from the California DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/forms.
- Fill out the form completely and sign it.
- Choose the type of driving record you want to order and indicate it on the form.
- Include a check or money order for the fee made payable to the California DMV.
- Mail the completed form and payment to the address listed on the form.
Fees for Obtaining California Driving Records
The fees for obtaining a driving record from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) vary depending on the type of record and the method of request. Here is a breakdown of the fees:
Fees for unofficial records:
- Online: $2
- In-person: $5
- By mail: $5
Fees for certified records:
- Online: $8
- In-person: $5
- By mail: $8
Note: Additional fees may apply for expedited processing or for requesting a record that requires additional research or certification.
Processing Times for California Driving Records
The processing times for obtaining a driving record also vary depending on the method of request. Here is an estimated timeline:
Processing times for unofficial records:
- Online: Immediate access
- In-person: Same day service, depending on wait times
- By mail: 7-10 business days
Processing times for certified records:
- Online: 10 business days
- In-person: Same day service, depending on wait times
- By mail: 10-15 business days
Note: Processing times may be longer during peak seasons or due to unforeseen circumstances. It’s always best to check with the DMV for the most up-to-date processing times.
Interpreting Your Driving Record
Reading and understanding a California driving record can be complex and confusing due to the use of codes, abbreviations, and point systems. Below are some tips to help you navigate the information presented on a California driving record.
1. Review your personal information closely. This section includes your name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and other identifying information. Make sure all the information is correct and matches your records.
2. Check your driver’s license status. The driving record will indicate whether your license is valid, suspended, or revoked. If your license is suspended or revoked, the record will include the reason for the suspension or revocation.
3. Look for violations. The driving record will list all the violations you have received, including moving and non-moving violations. Each violation will have a code or abbreviation associated with it, which can be found on the DMV website or in the California Vehicle Code. Make sure to review the violations carefully and understand what they mean.
4. Check your point count. The driving record will indicate the number of points assigned to each violation. The California DMV uses a point system to track violations, with more serious violations receiving more points. Accumulating too many points within a certain time frame can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license (more on this below!).
5. Check for accidents. The driving record will list any accidents you have been involved in while driving, including the date, location, and severity of the accident.
6. Understand the abbreviations and codes used on a driving record. The driving record may include abbreviations such as DUI (driving under the influence) or OAL (Office of Administrative Law). It may also use codes to indicate the type of violation or action taken. For example, the code H6 means “hardship license issued.” You can find a list of common abbreviations and codes on the DMV website or in the California Vehicle Code.
It’s important to review your driving record carefully and make sure you understand all the information presented. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the DMV for clarification and assistance understanding your driving record.
Understanding California’s Point System (NOTS)
California’s point system, also known as the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), assigns points to your driving record for each traffic violation you receive. The number of points assigned depends on the severity of the violation; for example, a parking ticket carries no points, an infraction (like a speeding ticket or failure to yield) carries one point, and a serious driving offense (like reckless driving) carries two or more points.
Getting multiple points within set time periods can result in action from the DMV, as shown below.
It’s important to note that the point system is separate from any fines or criminal charges you may face for a traffic violation. Even if you don’t receive a fine or criminal charge, you may still receive points on your driving record.
Removing Violations and Points
If you find inaccuracies on your California driving record or want to reduce points or remove violations, there are several options available to you. Below are some of the steps you can take to dispute inaccuracies and reduce points or remove violations from your driving record.
If You Find Errors on Your California Driving Record
If you discover errors on your driving record, you can request to have them corrected. It’s important to note that removing errors from your driving record does not happen automatically. You must take proactive steps to dispute inaccuracies. By taking these steps, you can work towards improving your driving record and maintaining a clean driving history.
Traffic violations and convictions
1. Complete and submit the Driver License Record Correction Request (Form DL 207).
2. Submit any supporting documents you have to prove you weren’t convicted of the violation. The DMV will typically require Court Abstract/Document Error (Form DL 157) and a signed or certified letter from the court (on an official letterhead).
3. Mail the Correction Request and applicable documents to the address shown on your Correction Request form.
1. Complete and submit a Traffic Accident Record Correction Request (Form DL 208).
2. Submit any supporting documents you have to prove the accident information is inaccurate, including the original traffic accident report and an amended report on an official letterhead. You can get these from the law enforcement agency that investigated the accident.
3. Mail the Correction Request and applicable documents to the address shown on your Correction Request form.
If You’re Facing Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation
If you have received a notice of suspension or revocation of your license, you can request a hearing to dispute the action. You must request a hearing within a certain timeframe, and you may need to provide evidence to support your case.
In this case, it may also be beneficial to seek legal assistance. An attorney can help you navigate the process and present your case effectively.
If You Want to Remove Points from Your License
In California, it’s not possible to remove points from your license if you’re convicted of a violation that carries points — it stays on your certified driving record for the required amount of time. However, you can mask a point, which means that it’s hidden from any driving records shared with insurance providers, which can help keep your premiums from going up after a ticket or infraction.
To mask a point, you need to get permission from your court and attend a DMV-approved traffic school. Once you successfully complete a traffic school course, the school will send your records to the DMV and one point will be masked from your license.
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