If you are worried that a long-forgotten traffic ticket might show up on a criminal background check, today’s article is for you. We’ll cover which driving offenses will and won’t appear on your record, plus show you how to run your own check in advance of a job interview or rental application.
There’s a good tune on the radio, you’re singing along heartily and not watching your speed. Before you know it, there is a bright flash and a traffic ticket is heading your way in the post.
Most of us have been caught for speeding at one time or another, whether because of a moment’s inattention, youthful exuberance, or some kind of emergency. We usually dismiss these tickets as an annoyance, complain on social media, pay up, and then forget about it.
But can speeding tickets or other minor traffic violations come back to bite? We often get asked whether a speeding ticket will show up on a background check.
In this article, we will explain if and when a speeding ticket will show up on a background check, explain how you can check your own records to see what information your prospective employer or landlord might find, and recommend the best public background checking sites to use.
Will traffic tickets show on a background check?
In most cases, the simple answer to this question is, no.
Most minor traffic violations such as speeding or running a stop sign are not considered criminal citations. As such, they are not recording on a criminal record in the same way that felonies and misdemeanors are and should not appear on any criminal records check.
They are instead classed as civil citations. These mean you will not be taken to court, you will not gain a criminal record, and unless you decide to challenge a ticket, you will just pay the fine and carry on as normal.
A civil citation is classified as being lower than a misdemeanor and they are used for offenses that are not deemed sufficient to require a criminal record. Yes, you have broken the law. But under US law, a civil citation is used for offenses that are very minor, commonly committed, and not done with any malicious intent.
In almost all cases you have nothing to worry about with traffic tickets and other minor offenses, but it won’t hurt to run a quick check on yourself first using one of the sites we have recommended above, just to be sure.
Driving background checks
If you are applying for a job that involves driving or handling heavy machinery, it is quite possible that your prospective employer might want to run a check of your driving history. These types of jobs are very specific in wanting someone without a prior history of driving offenses, so their search into these records is a little more comprehensive.
A driving background check is likely to reveal details of your traffic ticket history. In these cases, the effect these tickets will have on your chances of getting the job will depend on the nature of the role, your employer’s attitude, and the type of tickets you have picked up.
For example, having one or two tickets on your record from a long time ago is unlikely to stop most jobs from hiring you. But if you have tickets for serious speeding violations (for example doing 70 in a 35 zone), if you have a lot of traffic violations on your record, or if you have recent violations, this could affect your chances of being hired.
There are several reasons why this is the case. If you are driving company vehicles or operating machinery, you are in charge of an expensive company asset and they don’t want it to be damaged or written off.
Your driving records can also have implications for insurance premiums and license charges, so it is something they will always take seriously.
More serious driving offenses
There are some traffic offenses which definitely will show up on any criminal record check. Things like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving, causing death by dangerous driving, and drag racing are all considered more serious offenses and will leave you with a criminal record.
In these instances, the same background checking rules will be applied as for any other criminal offense. In most states, any criminal record older than seven years cannot show up on a professional background check and cannot be used as a reason not to hire someone.
These laws do vary from state to state, so it is worth checking what the situation is where you are. It is also possible to have some records either sealed or expunged. In these cases, the record should not show up on a background check either, but you do have to meet various criteria and also apply to a court too.
Again, if you want to know for sure whether or not your criminal record will show up on a background check, the best thing to do is to use the sites we have recommended above to run a check on yourself.
LEARN MORE: Do arrests show up on checks?
Best background checking sites for driving records
Checking your own record is actually one of the best ways to see whether your traffic tickets and other violations show up. There are a lot of public background checking sites available and most of these can generate as much information as the professional background checks used by employers. Sometimes they will turn up more.
There are a lot of public background checking sites so we have tested all the top ones to see which offers the fastest, most accurate, and most detailed results as well as a great user experience. The results are now in and here are our recommendations for the top two background checking sites for driving records:
TruthFinder was another background checking site that provided unerringly accurate results throughout our tests. It never put a foot wrong, even with complex searches and limited data being provided. If the information is out there, TruthFinder is odds-on to find it. The speed of their searches was not quite as consistent as some other providers. But their reports were first-class as were both their desktop dashboard and their apps.
TruthFinder has a high-quality, responsive 24/7 customer support on a toll-free number which is great for new users. Prices are reasonable (at two tiers: $27.78 monthly, or $23.02 per month on the bi-monthly plan) and whenever using this site, there is a sense customer is their top priority. This is not always the case with lesser background checking sites and is a big USP.
Instant CheckMate is an incredibly accurate background checking site, but its big selling point is speed. Instant CheckMate was able to generate reports faster than any other site we tested, without having to compromise on the quality of the results.
The service comes with nice apps and a good dashboard. Their customer service was very helpful too and their reports, while detailed, were never too difficult to understand.
At $34.78 per month, or with a discount, $27.82 per month for a three-month subscription, Instant CheckMate is not the cheapest background checking site around. But if speed and accuracy are what you need, they are well worth the price.
How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?
This depends on a number of things. Individual states set the amount of time that speeding tickets stay on your record. Times vary from 39 months in California to five years in Virginia. A few states even keep speeding tickets on your record for life.
If your speeding tickets results in points on your license that can affect your record in different ways too. In New York state, license points last for 18 months but in Idaho they stay on your record for three years.
Is a speeding ticket, traffic ticket a misdemeanour?
The majority of traffic tickets are classed as infractions rather than misdemeanors and, as such, they should not show up on a criminal record check.
However, there are some notable exceptions to this. If you were caught driving more than 15mph over the speed limit, your ticket is likely to be treated as a class 3 misdemeanor. Speeding at 80mph or more will be treated in a similar way. If you are a long way over that limit, it could even be upgraded to a class 2 misdemeanor.
Do parking tickets go on your record?
No. Parking tickets do not go on your driving record. They do go on the financial record of a registered owner of a vehicle and if they are not paid on time and could also be reported to the DMV.
Failing to pay a ticket can result in such consequences as the DMV refusing to renew your license and also lead to increased fines.
Do traffic citations go on your record?
A traffic citation is another way of talking about a speeding ticket or a traffic ticket, so can be treated in the same way. Traffic citations will generally not appear on your record but the exceptions outlined above will still apply.
Background checks are comprehensive
A background check is an online search through all public files to find out as much information as possible about a person. There is an enormous amount of information about every US citizen that is held in the public domain. With much of this now digitized, it is easy and legal for companies to create software that can search through these files and pull together different bits of information about a person.
The sort of information they can collate includes:
- Criminal records (state, county, and city)
- Driving record
- Work authorization
- Credit history
- Education history (high school and college)
- Licenses held
- Social media profiles
Individually, this type of data can only tell you so much. But a background check pulls it together into a comprehensive report that paints an incredibly accurate picture of a person.
What else are background checks used for?
Background checks these days are used for all sorts of purposes including:
- Criminal checks – If you are worried about a neighbor or work colleague, a background check can tell you whether someone has a criminal record and if your suspicions were right.
- Finding information about someone – If there is a mystery person in your life you want to know more, a background check is the way to find out more.
- Checking for local sex offenders – If the prospect of possible sex offenders in your neighborhoodworries you, a background check can help you find out about the weird guy next door and put your mind at ease.
- Finding a lost family member or friend – If you have lost contact with a friend or relative, a background check is a sure-fire way to track them down and get back in touch.
- Checking records about yourself – A lot of people are interested in knowing what information about themselves is held publicly. Running a background check on yourself will tell you and is a really useful way of preparing for a job application.
There are different types of background checks. Employers and landlords will use professional background sites that are compliant with all the relevant laws and regulations. Public background checking sites are less restricted but can still reveal a great deal of information about anyone.
Most of us have a traffic ticket or two to our names and a lot of people worry whether this will show up on a professional background check. The good news is that in most instances, it won’t as traffic tickets are classed as civil citations and therefore don’t leave a record.
As we have explained in this guide though, that doesn’t mean they won’t show up on a driving history check and if you have a more serious driving offense to your name, that will still appear on a professional background check.
In either case, it is highly advisable to run a background check on yourself ahead of any job application to see what information shows up. In this article, we have explained how background checks work and also recommended the best background checking sites to use.
Have you ever run into trouble because of a traffic ticket showing up on a background check? How did you handle the situation? Do you have any advice for our readers that hasn’t come up in the rest of this guide? It is always helpful to get real-life experiences to augment the professional advice we offer, so why not share yours with our readers today using the comment box below?