Does DMV Run Background Checks?

Driving jobs can often be a good way to make ends meet. The training is not that complicated. Even a commercial driving license can be earned within a month in some places.

Many felons have found that driving jobs are an ideal occupation. From driving Uber to long haul truck driving, the work opportunities are plentiful. And can be quite lucrative.

Anything to do with driving however begins with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). So for those with criminal records, the question is: Does DMV run background checks?

Does DMV Run Background Checks

This is a credible concern given the challenges many face with background checks. These days, many employers and landlords will carry out these checks. They may use this information to make decisions that can negatively affect felons.

Background checks have also become mandatory when joining certain professions. Attaining a commercial driving license (CDL) falls under this category. CDLs are necessary for such jobs as long haul truck driving, UPS truck deliveries, and more.

For felons, having a criminal past is a heavy burden that often affects work opportunities. It can also affect their ability to find decent housing and even pursue higher education.

Thankfully, businesses that involve road transport have strong demand for drivers. this makes the industry fertile ground for felons to find jobs. But before we delve into why these jobs are worthwhile for felons, let’s consider what the DMV involves.

What Is The DMV?

Does DMV Run Background Checks What

As the name suggests, the DMV is the authority that pertains to most things vehicle-related. Some of the key issues handled here include:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Vehicle inspections
  • Title transfers
  • Issuing of drivers licenses and ID cards
  • Keeping driving records
  • Selling of personalized plates

However, the issues handled by the DMV, and even the name it goes by, may vary according to state.

DMVs are also often responsible for undertaking the written and hands-on driving tests. They also oversee private driving schools and issue manuals that provide drivers with guidance. Passing the tests administered by the DMV is what qualified drivers for their licenses.

For felons, the concern here might be if a bad background check can affect their ability to acquire a license. Without a license, a person should not be driving. Driving a vehicle without a valid license can result in penalties such as fines and imprisonment.

DMVs also keep track of driving records. This is everything involving your driving history, going back a minimum of 3 years, depending on the state. your driving record can include:

  • Identification details – Name, Address, Date of birth, and Gender
  • Driving license number and expiration date
  • License classifications
  • History of traffic violations and infractions
  • Penalties given for violations
  • History of accidents/collisions

In many states, minor infractions such as parking tickets remain on record for a short period. More serious offenses like DUIs tend to remain for a longer time.

Since driving records are a matter of public record, they are accessible upon request. The owner of the record must however sign a release form to allow the DMV to generate this record. This is why most employers will include this form on a conditional offer of employment.

What Is A Background Check?

Does DMV Background Checks

Most people are familiar with background checks that involve criminal records. This allows an employer to determine what, if any, criminal past a potential employee has. While it may seem discriminatory, it helps them make hiring decisions.

However, background checks can often be more comprehensive. For jobs that involve driving, it is ideal for employers to also consider DMV records. This allows them to determine how responsible a driver is likely to be on the job.

It can also help them gauge their insurance risk. Insurers will likely increase their premium rates when covering a risky driver. This is a person with numerous serious violations like speeding and DUIs.

Background checks can also involve probing credit history. Landlords often investigate this as it helps confirm the fiscal responsibility of tenants. Someone with a history of bad debts and claims from past landlords is a bad risk.

For felons looking to get into a driving career, DMV records with numerous violations can be problematic. Employers hiring felons will likely place more emphasis on a clean driving record than the criminal one.

There is also the issue of how some violations can affect the license itself. Some penalties can result in the suspension or revoking of a license. This can make it impossible to secure any driving job.

Consequently, let’s now look at how DMV and criminal violations differ.

DMV Vs. Criminal Offences

DMV violations mainly pertain to driving behavior and road safety. Records are kept by the DMV and appear on a person’s driving record. These violations are kept record for a set period before they are no longer accessible.

Infractions are the less serious of traffic offenses. They include such acts as non-moving violations like parking tickets. The penalty for infractions is typically a fine.

Violations are more serious offenses and are considered crimes. They can often be prosecuted as misdemeanors and even felonies, depending on severity. They include such offenses as DUIs, driving with a suspended license, or without insurance.

Criminal offenses are a violation of criminal law. These can be local, state, or federal laws. Most states do not age out these offenses, so offenders must seek expungement to clear their records.

Traffic offenses are often escalated to criminal cases when there is an injury to a person or property. Repeat offending can also result in minor violations being escalated to criminal offenses.

Moving violations are also considered more serious because of the likelihood of injury. They include such acts as over-speeding, vehicular homicide, DUIs, and running stop signs.

Non-moving violations often involve parking issues. They include parking in front of a fire hydrant, in front of expired meters, and handicap spaces. Parking tickets are normally issued to compel the vehicle owner to pay a fine.

It is important to remember that every state can differ in how they handle traffic violations. It is advisable to acquire the state driving manual and familiarize yourself with the laws.

Can I Get My Driving Record Expunged?

Does DMV Run Background Checks Expunge

Expungements are often pursued by felons in an attempt to clear their criminal records. When approved, they can honestly claim to employees that they have no criminal past. And the resulting background checks will back their claims.

They are often granted to non-violent offenders with one or two convictions. They are a means of granting them second chances. Expungements are great for removing barriers to gainful employment and decent housing.

This legal process is however the preserve of criminal courts. DMVs do not typically offer this relief.

It is however noteworthy that most DMV records do have some expiry date. This means that after a certain period, your records are cleaned. If the offense was a while ago, you may just need to wait it out to avoid discovery.

This varies according to state, so you will need to consult your local DMV. They should be able to confirm how long your records will last.

Note that if the traffic offense was however serious and resulted in criminal charges, this changes. Misdemeanor or felony charges may allow you to seek an expungement depending on state or federal laws.  Note that the expungement of a vehicle-related offense may not eliminate the DMV records.

It is advisable to consult a lawyer for expungements. In some states, you may not get an expungement, but you may get the conviction reduced. A reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor can prove helpful to many.


Having a poor driving record does not necessarily mean you will suffer for it. Most employers are not bothered by minor infractions like parking tickets. You can easily clean this up by settling the tickets so they know you are responsible.

More serious offenses like DUIs and over-speeding can however prove troublesome. They indicate how you might behave on the job. Many employers may pass on you due to this.

Taking up more advanced training or rehab may help give a better image. Especially if a considerable amount of time has passed since these offenses.

If looking to take up a driving career like Uber or trucking, work on keeping a clean record. Also, remember to be sincere about your past. Since the DMV does indeed allow employers to run background checks, the truth will out.

You can prepare yourself by running your own background check. Many states make driving records accessible to their owners at a small fee, online. You can get your report and know what your potential employer will discover ahead of time.

Most importantly, do not be discouraged. Do not allow your past to hinder you, rather push harder for a better future.

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