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California Public Driving Records

The state of California maintains public driving records for individuals and companies. Anyone with a legal driver's license will have a driver's record. A full report will include any minor infractions like running a stop sign or parking in a no-parking zone. It will also include more serious violations such as DUIs, reckless driving, accidents, and even points on your license.

The state of California has two different types of driving records: DL/ID (Driver's License/ID Record) and VL/ID (Vehicle/Vessel Registration Record). The first provides detailed information about the driver and their record, and the other is more about the vehicle itself.

Typically, these records will contain the driver's name, date of birth, address, phone number, social security number, driver's license number, and medical information. However, because of DPPA (Driver's Privacy Protection Act) laws, only the driver or authorized personnel can get copies of records with personally identifiable information (PII) on them.

How to Request a California Driving Record

California has a section on their ca.gov website where visitors can request a copy of their own driving record or someone else's. Those requesting records for someone else will need to fill out the correct form and provide a signed release. Records requests are governed by the California Vehicle Code (CVC) §1808.45 and federal law, the Drivers Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

The state offers a couple of different options for individuals who want a copy of their own report. They can order one online for $2 and print it after confirmation. They can also download the proper form and mail it in, which costs $5, or they can visit the local DMV office or DMV headquarters to obtain a copy. When applying in person you can pay with a money order.

Companies, attorneys, private investigators, and employers must use a special form, and they can mail in a request, which will cost them $5 for a printout and $20 for each hard copy or microfilm.

California Driving Record Cost

Regardless of whether an individual or company is ordering a copy, the state offers two types of reports. One is a current record of the individual's full driving history, and the other is vehicle/vessel-related, including a list of all previous owners, accidents, etc.

Individuals can order a copy of their own record for $2 online and $5 by mail. The cost is $5 for a printout and $20 for each hard-copy original or microfilm copy for companies. When ordering, companies must produce an authorization form that they have permission to pull the subject's record.

Driving Laws in California

You must be at least 15 & 1/2 to begin driving and apply for a learner's permit in California. You must also complete the form and have parental or a guardian's permission. Someone wishing to get a driver's license must be 16 years old and pass the written and driving test and complete a driver's education course. The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles is the government agency in charge of all drivers, licensing, and records.

California has the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), which is their version of points on your license for driving infractions. It consists of warning letters and points on your license and can eventually lead to the suspension of your driving privileges. Each violation carries 0-3 points.

California has strict speed limit laws, and anyone caught driving 100 mph on the highway will be fined $500 and may lose their license for 30 days. That is for the first offense. A second offense in a three-year period will result in a fine of $750 and their license suspended for six months. Upon a third offense in a five-year period, the person will be fined $1,000 and lose their license for at least a year. Some other speed-related laws in California are:

  • $35 fine for speeding 1-15 mph over the speed limit (less than 100 mph)
  • $70 fine for speeding 15-25 mph over the speed limit (less than 100 mph)
  • $100 fine for speeding 26+ mph over the speed limit (less than 100 mph)

Most speeding violations add 1 point to the driver's license.

Reckless driving is another serious offense in California. A first offense carries a punishment of 90 days in jail and a fine of between $145- $1,000. If someone is hurt or killed, the penalty could be increased.

More serious criminal offenses typically add 3 points to a person's license. Less serious non-moving violations carry a 1-point violation.

If you collect 4 points in 12 months, you will lose your license. If you earn 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months, you will also lose your license.

Different Types of CA Driving Records

The state offers individuals and companies two different types of reports. They are the Driver License/Identification Record (DL/ID) and a Vehicle/Vessel Registration Record (VR). Both have different information on them and are for very specific purposes. For example, before extending auto insurance to a customer, insurance companies may require both to see who has owned the vehicle, if it has been in any accidents, and check out the driver's history to look for violations, infractions, and convictions before quoting them insurance rates.

Driver License/Identification Record (DL/ID)

This type of report is all about the driver and goes back as long as they have had a license. It reports all traffic violations, convictions, reportage accidents, infractions, their license status, and points on there. This type of report is considered a public record with some exceptions.

Vehicle/Vessel Registration Record (VR)

This report is a vehicle record and focuses previous owners, accidents, recalls, and detailed information about the vehicle itself (manufacturer, year, make, model, color, trim level, weight, etc.) and is considered a public record with some exceptions. These might be used for a background check.

Criminal Driving Offenses

Criminal driving offenses in the state are the most serious and carry the harshest punishments. Some examples of serious criminal driving offenses are:

  • Failure to stop for law enforcement
  • Fleeing from an officer, especially if someone is hurt as you flee
  • Driving without a legal driver's license
  • Refusing to hand over your license to a police officer
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Hit and run where you caused property damage or hurt or killed someone
  • Driving the wrong way on a highway
  • Reckless driving, especially when someone is hurt or killed
  • Racing on public roadways or highways
  • Driving with alcohol in the vehicle if you are under 21
  • DUI
  • Failure to use or install an ignition interlock device within 30 days
  • Open container of alcohol in the vehicle while driving
  • Throwing something at another moving vehicle
  • Leaving the scene of an accident

The offense listed above may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, but regardless, both will carry steep fines and jail/prison time. For a misdemeanor driving offense with less than a year sentence, the person will be sent to county jail rather than prison. Other punishments may include court-ordered traffic school, victim restitution, and drug or alcohol treatment programs.

Civil Driving Offenses

Other less serious driving offenses are considered "civil," and the punishments are much less severe. You also may incur fewer or no points on your license for these types of offenses. Some examples of civil driving offenses in the state are:

  • Parking in a loading/unloading zone - $100 fine
  • Not wearing a seat belt - $20 fine (first offense), $50 fine (second offense)
  • Failure to use a child restraint system - $100 fine (first offense), $250 fine (second offense)
  • Not stopping for a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Parking in a no-parking zone
  • Expired parking meter
  • Illegal modifications to your vehicle
  • Driving with an expired registration/plates
  • Texting and driving

Some things like parking tickets and failing to register your vehicle are considered non-moving violations and are less serious.

State Driving Records Statistics

On average, just under 4,000 people are killed in California each year in car crashes. Roughly 277,000 are injured, and total crashes per year average 193,564. Some other driving-related statistics for the state are:

  • 20-29-year-olds cause the highest number of vehicle accidents in the state
  • More than 2/3rds of accidents are caused by males
  • Most crashes take place between 5 a.m. - 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. - 6 p.m
  • The majority of car crashes in CA occur when drivers are proceeding straight
  • The top causes for distracted driving are cell phone use, eating, playing with the radio, and children
  • Almost 50% of car accidents involve passenger vehicles
  • Friday is the most common day for accidents
  • Cloudy weather is another significant factor in accidents in CA

Driving Records Search Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about state driving records.

Why Do I Have to Create an Account to get a Report?

The reason why you must create an account when requesting a driver record is because of DPPA laws. The state must verify your identity, and they do that through the creation of an account. The system also keeps your driving report away from prying eyes.

How Do I Get My Copy When Ordering Online?

Once you complete the online registration and pay the fee, you will immediately be directed to a copy of your driver record, and you can print the page immediately. You will not be sent a paper copy. The online copy is not a certified copy. You will need to request a copy of your driving record by mail to get a an official document.

What is Included in the Report?

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles for the state, "Driver records will only include all reportable information: convictions for three, seven, or ten years, departmental actions, and accidents on a person's driver record as required by California Vehicle Code (CVC) *§*1808." License suspensions will also show on the report.

Can I Have My DMV Driving Record Mailed to Me if I Order Online?

No. The online ordering system only supports printable reports. If you need a paper copy mailed to you, download the order form and submit it in person or by mail. You will have to pay $5 instead of $2 for a mail copy.

Will the Report Include My Address?

Yes, your address will be clearly printed on both the driver or vessel report as you submitted it to the DMV. However, it will not show on the screen to help prevent identity theft.

What if I Didn't Print My Report and I Closed the Shopping Cart?

If you close out the shopping cart page before printing your drivers report, you will need to start over and make a new purchase. The system is a one-time-only print option.

What if My Drivers Record Has Errors on It?

If your driving record includes errors, download the correct form and submit it to the DMV. You can also use a Driver Record Traffic Collision Form DL 207A or Abstract/Document Error Form DL 157 or Abstract of Court Record from law enforcement or court records. You may also call the DMV at DMV at 1-800-777-0133.

Helpful State Driving Record Links

Below are some helpful state driving record links.

Disclaimer: The materials presented here are for informational purposes only. The information is taken from state and local resources, and is current as of the most recent site update. Changes made by state and local departments and agencies after our latest update may render some information and fees outdated, and may cause links to break and forms to be unavailable. Infotracer strongly encourages you to visit the relevant state and local resources to ensure you have the most recent information.