What is DMV Driver’s Abstract?

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In the simplest terms a DMV driver abstract is a record of your driving history within the state. Most times this document is important for things like job applications, court cases and most of all for auto insurance purposes. From the moment you received your license (or, in some places in the United States, even your permit) your DMV driver’s abstract will contain all the pertinent information about your driving history such as traffic offenses, suspensions and revocations, and auto accidents.

Why do people care about DMV Abstracts?

The most common reason that a driver’s abstract is important is for insurance purposes. Your abstract is a quick way for insurance companies to get a sense of how risky a driver you are and what policy rates they will charge you to become insured or re-insured. Your driving history impacts things like your insurance premium especially if you have a history of ticket convictions.

It’s generally a good idea to request a copy of your driver’s abstract every so often for your records.  Many of the calls we get from clients who are charged with driving while suspended (Aggravated Unlicensed Operation) involve a ticket they forgot about and didn’t realize was on their record and, since they failed to take action, their license was suspended.

What Information Is On My Driver’s Abstract?

The information included in your abstract varies from state to state, but generally includes important events like accidents and moving violations. Note that if you have an accident on your abstract, that doesn’t necessarily mean the accident was your fault—in states like NY, anyone involved in an accident, even the party that wasn’t the cause of the incident, has this information put on their abstract.

Other information includes the date of when you first received your license which can be important information when trying to figure out if you qualify for certain discounts on your car insurance. If you had your license revoked and you took another road test to get another license, that start date will be used instead (and the previous date will not appear on your abstract).

Most accidents and moving violations will remain on your abstract for around four years (they come off on the fourth January 1st following your conviction). This is also the case for suspended or revoked licenses that were cleared or terminated. Alcohol-related and drug-related offenses last much longer, however, and can remain on your record for more than 10 years. This applies even when your license has expired and you have chosen not to renew it—in most cases like NY, the DMV will delete your record, but if you have a drug or alcohol related driving offense the DMV is obligated to retain your records for much longer.

If you have a suspended or revoked license that has not been cleared or terminated, this information will also stay on your record until you clear the suspension by paying a suspension termination fee.

There is more than one kind of abstract, including a registration abstract, that provides information on the kind of vehicle you’re driving, your name and mailing address, and the expiration date of your registration. There are many ways of accessing your DMV abstract, including the mail, telephone and most conveniently the DMV website for your state. If you wish to order your NY driving abstract click here. Usually a small fee is involved, ranging from $7 to $15 depending on the state.

Here at the Rosenblum Law, when we are hired on certain kinds of traffic violations we purchase our client’s driving abstract from DMV and provide it free of charge.

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This post was written by Adam H. Rosenblum Esq.

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