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Your performance behind the wheel of a vehicle can have a far-reaching impact on many other areas of your life, not just your auto insurance.

Oops street signAs the saying goes, the DMV never forgets.

Your driving record follows you from the day you get your license till the day you hang up your keys. The impact of your driving record extends to many other aspects of your life.

While everyone knows that your car insurance rates are directly linked to your DMV record, you may be shocked to learn that it can also affect your life insurance premium, your right to vote and even your professional life.

What? Yes, you read that correctly. Read on to learn just how impactful your driving record is on your life.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • A driving record is a record with the department of motor vehicles (DMV) that stores your personal identification, license information and any infractions against you.
  • A bad driving record can result in some surprising negative impacts on your life from your insurance rates to your right to vote.
  • There are ways to improve your driving record, but the most powerful is simply to drive safely and responsibly.

What is a driving record?

A driving record is like a driver report card with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Driving records include:

  • Driver's personal identification information
  • Driver's license details
  • Any accidents, citations, violations or convictions
  • Any fines or fees paid or owed
  • License suspensions or revocations
  • Any driving courses taken
  • Infraction points

12 reasons your driving record matters

Here are 12 ways your driving record can exert its influence on your life.

Driving Records Impact

1. Your car insurance premium

It goes without saying that your driving record has a direct effect on your car insurance premium. You may not get the best car insurance quotes if you have multiple moving violations.

A serious offense such as a DUI or reckless driving charge can label you a high-risk driver and push your premiums up 30 to 300%, according to Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst with Insurance.com. Even a speeding ticket can bump your rates by 20%. Ouch.

2. Your credit rating

If you choose not to pay a traffic or red light ticket, there is a good chance your credit rating will take a beating.

Most jurisdictions tack on fees if you fail to pay a ticket and eventually turn it over to a collection agency. You can then watch your credit rating nosedive. The next time you apply for a credit card, loan or even try to rent an apartment, you may have a problem, compliments of the DMV.

That weaker credit record, in turn, may further drive up your car insurance rates, too. A double whammy.

3. You may be arrested

A stay in the slammer over a ticket? It could happen.

After it has destroyed your credit rating, that unpaid traffic violation may show up at your door in the form of an arrest warrant. According to the California Court System website, continued failure to pay your ticket will result in a misdemeanor charge and an arrest warrant.

4. Lose your right to vote and many other rights

A DUI or reckless driving charge can be classified as a felony if the damage is extremely serious or a death is involved. In many cases, the charge will be reckless homicide. Multiple DUIs can also result in a felony conviction. In New York, a second DUI in 10 years will be classified as a felony.

Convicted felons lose a number of rights which vary by state, but examples include:

  • Right to vote
  • Serve on jury
  • Hold public office
  • Receive federal aid for education
  • Become firefighter
  • Travel to foreign countries may be limited

5. Life insurance may cost more

A poor driving record or a DUI can knock you out of a preferred life insurance tier.

Kristofer R. Kirchen, president of Advanced Insurance Managers, warns, "This may up your rates by a few hundred dollars a year, which over the course of a 30-year term policy can really add up."

6. Your license may be suspended

In almost all cases, your license will be suspended with a DUI or reckless driving charge. An unpaid ticket can also result in a suspension.

The DMV will additionally refuse to register your vehicle if you have unpaid tickets on your record.

7. You might lose your job

A serious driving infraction, or even a slew of small ones, may put you in the unemployment line.

A suspended license can be a deal-breaker for your employer if you drive for a living. Delivery drivers, traveling salespeople or anyone who spends all day in a car may be out of a job. Even if you manage to hang on to your license, if you drive a company car, the insurance increase may be too much for your employer.

8. It might be harder to get a job in the future

There is a certain social stigma attached to a DUI or other serious driving conviction. Fair or not, it can affect your future employment.

Many companies run a background check on potential employees and for some, a DUI is a red flag. Any job that requires driving or using a company car may be out of reach as the cost to insure you will be prohibitive.

9. Your lifelong dream to be a police officer is over

Almost every police department forbids convicted felons from joining the force, which means drivers with a felony DUI on their records will be unable to serve their community. Less serious traffic offenses can also be an automatic disqualifier in some cities.

Denver, for example, disqualifies candidates if they have been fined for:

  • Driving without insurance in the past two years.
  • A suspended driver's license in the past two years.
  • A DUI in the last five years.
  • A major traffic violation such as reckless driving in the past seven years.

10. Your dream to fly professionally may be grounded

If you're a licensed pilot and are arrested for a DUI, you must send the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a notification letter within 60 days. The FAA will investigate, and if it feels there is an alcohol or substance abuse problem, you may find your license pulled.

While a DUI doesn't automatically result in a suspended pilot's license, you may find your professional pilot opportunities severely limited.

11. Adopting a baby may become more difficult

Your driving record is not going to prevent you from adopting a baby, but it may make it more difficult. Adopt America warns that every agency has a different policy regarding a DUI and that any serious driving infraction must be addressed during the home study section of the process.

While a DUI that happened a long time ago should have no real effect, a more recent one may decrease your chances of being approved by an adoption agency.

12. It can increase your sentence on future criminal charges

A serious driving infraction, such as a DUI or reckless driving, creates a permanent criminal record that can have a dramatic impact on a potential sentence for criminal charges in the future, or if you end up with a second DUI.

According to Raj Dua, an attorney in Fairfax, VA, "The court will likely increase the sentence on a subsequent DUI and prosecutors are less likely to reduce any future charges."

What can you do to improve your driving record?

What can you do to improve your driving record?

Here are some things to consider when trying to improve your driving record:

  • Take a driver safety source - This will help you become a better driver but also may remove infraction points from your record
  • Expungement - Depending on your state, you may be able to request certain violations be expunged from your record after a specified period of time.
  • Contest the ticket - If your driving record is already questionable, another infraction could be devastating. In that case, it may be worth your effort to hire an attorney and contest the ticket.
  • Practice safe and responsible driving - This is the most important and most effective thing you can do and teach your teens as drivers. Avoid traffic violations and tickets entirely by being a safe and responsible driver.

Frequently asked questions

How can I pull my driving record?

Depending on your state, you may be able to request a copy of your driver record for a small fee. If this doesn't work, you may be able to request the information from your car insurance company since they access your driving records with the DMV to determine insurance rates.

Does a suspended license go on your record?

Yes, a license suspension will show up on your driving record.

How long will a suspended license stay on my record?

This depends on your state, but typically a suspended license will show up on a driving record for three to five years.

Does driving record affect credit score?

A driving record does not directly affect credit scores, but can result in an indirect effect. For example, if you fail to pay a ticket or fine and it is turned over to collections, it will also likely be reported to the credit bureaus and result in a decreased credit score.

What is considered a bad driving record?

Typically, anything negative on the driving record is considered bad. For example, a ticket or traffic violation on your driving record is not good. The more infractions or negative marks on a driving record, the worse the driving record is. A good driving record should be free of tickets, traffic violations, convictions and fines.

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