What Does It Mean To Have a Clean Driving Record?

Last Updated on October 21, 2020

It’s important to have a clean driving record. But what is considered a clean driving record? How do car insurance companies define a “clean driving record”?

If you got a speeding ticket four years ago, or a DUI 10 years ago, do you have a clean driving record today? If you totaled a car in high school 20 years ago do you have a clean driving record?

Technically, a clean driving record is any driving record with no accidents, moving violations, or points.

However, insurance companies, employers, and government agencies have different definitions for a clean driving record.

Some insurers, for example, will give you a clean driving record discount if you have no incidents within the past three to five years, for example.

Other insurers will overlook minor violations. If you received a minor speeding ticket last week but have an otherwise clean record for the past 15 years, for example, then you might still have a clean driving record.

In this article, we’re explaining what you need to know about having a clean driving record.

What Does It Mean To Have a Clean Driving Record?

Different Organizations Have Different Definitions of a Clean Driving Record

Insurers define a clean driving record one way, while employers may have a different definition.

By insurance company definitions, you may have a clean driving record if you have no violations within the past five to seven years, for example. If you have no speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, or other violations within the past five to seven years, then you may technically have a clean driving record in the eyes of your insurance company.

In fact, in most states, insurers are unable to look up driving record data beyond five to seven years.

In certain states, serious accidents are available on your driving record for up to ten years. A DUI may remain on your record for a decade, for example, while a speeding ticket or moving violation gets removed after just three years.

Generally, you can assume that insurers know about everything that occurred on your driving record over the past 5 to 10 years.

An employer, meanwhile, may have a different definition of a clean driving record. An employer might require you to have no major violations in your life, for example. An employer might be willing to overlook a speeding ticket from last week, but they might not overlook that DUI from 15 years ago.

Ultimately, the definition for a clean driving record varies widely between organizations.

That’s why most insurers don’t ask an ambiguous question like, “Do you have a clean driving record?”. Instead, most insurers ask questions like, “Do you have any at-fault claims within the past five years?” or “Do you have any DUIs in the past ten years?”

Don’t Lie About Your Driving Record

It’s always important to never lie about your driving history, especially on auto insurance application forms.

Many people are reading this article because they have a minor incident on their driving record. The insurance form asks if you have a clean record, and you’re debating whether to answer yes or no.

Situations vary between drivers. However, we recommend not lying about your driving record.

You may be asked about your driving record for work or insurance reasons. However, any employer or insurance company can easily check your driving record.

Insurance companies share driving record information in a common database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). Insurers will check this database for any claims you have made with past insurers.

Similarly, the DMV collects all driving record information. DMVs in different states share data.

If you’re thinking about getting away with lying about your driving record, then think again. It’s easy for organizations to check your driving record.

Most State Driving Records Go Back 5 to 10 Years

In most states, your driving record goes back 5 to 10 years. Generally, minor violations fall off your driving record more quickly than serious violations.

In California, for example, a DUI will stay on your driving record for 10 years. In other states, a speeding ticket may disappear off your driving record in as little as 3 to 5 years.

Ultimately, state rules vary widely. That’s why it’s a good idea to assume that your insurer knows any information about your driving history over the past 5 to 10 years.

Getting Points Removed From Your Driver’s License

If you have points on your license, then you do not have a clean driving record.

Fortunately, you can remove points by contacting your local DMV and working your way through their procedures. Some states make it very tedious to remove points. In other states, it is quite simple.

In most states, you remove points by paying the DMV a fee. In other states, or for more serious points violations, you may have to take a defensive driving course.

To remove points from your license for a job, or to simply lower your auto insurance premiums, take a look at our guide, here. The incident that caused the points should remain on your record for five to ten years, although the points will disappear.

Do Speeding Tickets Disqualify a Clean Driving Record?

We get plenty of questions about whether speeding tickets and other violations disqualify a clean driving record.

As mentioned above, the definition of a clean driving record varies between insurers and employers.

Some employers may disqualify a clean driving record for a single speeding ticket, for example. Other employers may be willing to overlook all but the most serious violations.

Similarly, some insurers are willing to overlook one or two speeding tickets, while other insurers will not overlook any speeding tickets.

These rules do not apply to criminal excessive speeding tickets. If you received a single criminal speeding ticket for excessive speeding, then you may be considered a high-risk driver and should not qualify as having a clean record.

Generally, a minor violation like a speeding ticket will not disqualify your clean driving record. However, a pattern of dangerous driving or high-risk behavior would disqualify your clean record.

What Do Employers and Insurers See on a Driving Record?

When employers or insurers check your driving record, they can view surprising information about your driving history. Your driving record is a public record of your driving history. You have a driving record from the moment you get your license.

Some of the things on a driving record include:

Certain things will not be included on your driving record, including non-moving violations (like parking tickets or equipment violations). Your driving record does not include any information about your non-driving criminal history.

Final Word on Clean Driving Records

The definition of a clean driving record varies between organizations. Your employer might have one definition for a clean driving record, for example, while your insurer has a different definition.

Generally, insurance companies can check violations – including speeding tickets, DUIs, and at-fault accidents – over the past five to ten years. Insurers will pull your CLUE report to access this information.

It’s important not to lie when asked about your driving record. It’s easy for organizations – including employers and insurers – to check your history and verify you have a clean driving record.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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