What is a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)?

Your motor vehicle report is a record of your driving history, and car insurance companies use it to determine what you pay for coverage.

Anna SwartzAndrew Hurst

By

Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

&Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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Your motor vehicle report (MVR) is a record of your driving history, kept by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Also called a motor vehicle record, your MVR lists citations, accidents, DUI convictions, and any other violations that are a part of your driving history.

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Your motor vehicle report has a couple of uses. Insurance companies use it to check your driving history when you apply for auto coverage, And you'll pay higher premiums if you have a history of tickets or accidents. If you apply for a job that requires driving, your potential employer may also perform an MVR background check before hiring you.

Key Takeaways

  • A motor vehicle report (MVR) is a record of your driving history that lists your personal information, along with any violations or accidents you've had.

  • Car insurance companies use your MVR to determine what you pay for car insurance

  • Potential employers, along with law enforcement officers and towing companies, can also pull your motor vehicle report to check your driving history.

What does MVR mean?

Your MVR, which stands for motor vehicle report, is a record of your driving history. Any past accidents, tickets, moving violations, or DUI/DWI convictions will all show up on your motor vehicle report. Along with your driving history, your MVR also shows basic information about you as a driver, including your name, license number, and birth date. 

If your state uses a point system to track your driving violations, the number of points on your license will show up on your motor vehicle report. Citations add points to your license, and more serious offenses earn you more points. If you accumulate too many points, you risk having your license suspended or revoked.

How to get a motor vehicle report

If you need to get a copy of your MVR for a job interview, court date, or for another reason, you can order a copy of your motor vehicle report in every state and the District of Columbia. To get your motor vehicle report,

  1. Gather your personal information: To get a motor vehicle report, you’ll need basic information, like your name and address, along with your vehicle's tag number, license number, and identification number.

  2. Complete a request form: MVR request forms are available through your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent agency). You can usually find these forms online or at an in-person location.

  3. Prepare to pay a small fee: The cost of requesting your MVR varies depending on where you live. In many states, you're required to pay a small administrative fee that's typically less than $10.  

When you fill out a request form for a motor vehicle report, you have to state your reason for requesting the MVR. This prevents others from accessing your information. However, there are some other people who can get a copy of your (or someone else's) motor vehicle report, including:

  • Government or law enforcement agencies

  • Insurance companies, including agents and other employees

  • Towing or impounding companies

  • Toll collectors

→ Read more about how to request your MVR in your state

Do you need an MVR check for employers?

Sometimes — it's common for employers to check your motor vehicle record during the hiring process. If you apply for a job that involves driving, the company will use your MVR to evaluate your skills as a driver — and to make sure there are no red flags in your background.

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How long do violations stay on your MVR?

Most accidents and violations don’t stay on your MVR forever. Speeding tickets and other moving violations usually fall off of your record after three to five years. However, more serious violations, like DUIs, will stay on your record longer.

The length of time an accident or violation stays on your MVR really depends on where you live. In California, for example, points for moving violations — such as making an illegal turn or speeding — stay on your record for three years and three months. For comparison, in Illinois these types of violations could stay on your record for four to five years.

It's also possible that moving violations could remain on your record forever in some states, such as Ohio. Even if you live in a state where your past violations will always be on your record, don't worry. They won't negatively affect your insurance rates or chances of finding cheap coverage forever.

How long does a violation impact insurance rates?

Insurance companies generally look at the past three to five years of your driving history when calculating your insurance premiums. After a certain amount of time, accidents and violations effectively fall off of your record when it comes to car insurance. 

This could be different for serious violations, which have a bigger effect on your car insurance rates. One year after a serious violation appears on your motor vehicle report, you may see high rates and have trouble finding affordable coverage. Even after three years, your rates may still be high, but if you shop around, you may be able to find some car insurance companies that will offer cheap auto coverage.

→ Read more about how long an accident affects your car insurance rates

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How often do insurers check your driving record?

Car insurance companies check your driving record when you apply for coverage and whenever it's time to renew. This means that even if you're in a crash in the middle of your policy term, your rates won't increase until the end of your policy.

Can you check your own accident history?

Yes, you can check your own accident history by requesting a copy of your motor vehicle report. It's a good idea to do this periodically, especially if you plan to apply for a driving job or for insurance, to make sure there are no mistakes on your record.

How can you get a motor vehicle report for your employees?

If you're hiring for a driving job, you can order a motor vehicle report through your state's department of motor vehicles. You'll need your potential employee's personal information, including their name, address, and driving license number.

Are motor vehicle records public?

While motor vehicle records are public, you can usually only request your own. If you want to view someone else's motor vehicle records, you will have to prove that you have permissible use under the law.