If you've recently been cited for breaking the speed limit, you may be wondering whether the infraction could have an impact on your job prospects. Will the average pre-employment background check find your speeding ticket? Do you need to disclose the ticket if asked about criminal history on a job application?
The majority of traffic offenses are not criminal in nature. Civil citations do not appear on a person's criminal record. You are not required to appear in court unless you intend to contest the violation, and you will not be found "guilty" or convicted of a crime. Certain employers may take this step when filling driving-related positions. Traffic violations may be classified as felonies or misdemeanors when they exceed the level of a civil citation. At backgroundchecks.com, we provide our clients with self-screening tools for conducting their criminal background checks. In this post, we will explore how speeding tickets can (and cannot) affect employment background screenings.
Will My Speeding Ticket Show Up on a Background Check?
Usually, when people are asking about what might show up on their background checks, they are referring specifically to the type of background check that most employers ascribe with the most weight: the criminal history check. If the question is whether a traffic infraction will show up on a criminal history search, the answer is typically very simple to give. That answer is no: a criminal background check will not include the average speeding citation.
How Is a Speeding Ticket Classified in Law?
Why won’t a criminal records search show your traffic violation history? The answer is that a simple traffic ticket is not a criminal citation. Minor traffic offenses are usually recorded as civil citations, which means they are not considered misdemeanors (or felonies) and are therefore not a part of your criminal record. As a result, a speeding infraction will not usually show up on a background check if the check focuses on criminal history.
Does a Speeding Ticket Appear on Your Driving Record?
Of course, criminal background searches are not the only types of background checks employers might run on you. A prospective employer may wish to look at other parts of your background, from your employment history to your education to the professional licenses or certifications you may hold. These additional background checks may also include a look at your motor vehicle history, and a driving record check likely will show your recent traffic violation.
Not all employers use driving history checks as part of their background check process. If you are seeking a job that will mostly involve working with computers at a desk, there isn’t much reason for the employer to worry about your motor vehicle history; that information isn’t relevant to the job in question.
If you are applying for a job that involves driving, though, assume the employer will look at your motor vehicle record and see your speeding tickets—as well as any other traffic violations on your record from the recent past (usually the last seven years).
Do Traffic Violations Stop You from Getting Jobs?
If you are applying for a job that involves driving—especially a lot of driving, or driving at a particularly high level (such as jobs that require commercial driver’s licenses)—then there is a chance that a traffic infraction could impact how hirable you are in the eyes of the hiring manager. A delivery driver or freight driver with a history of speeding tickets or other minor traffic violations might be seen as a risk to the employer.
The nature of the ticket may also impact whether it is an issue for your job prospect. If you received your first-ever speeding ticket last month and were only driving five miles per hour over the speed limit, you probably don’t have much to worry about. These types of minor traffic violations—especially when they are first-time offenses—will typically be viewed differently than driving histories that indicate more severe or serial offenses. For example, if you have been ticketed for speeding three times in the past six months, or for driving 30 miles per hour faster than the posted limit, those are much more severe traffic violations and will likely be viewed as such by a prospective employer.
Even more severe traffic offenses, such as reckless driving or hit-and-runs, can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Those infractions are considered to be “criminal traffic offenses” and will show up on a criminal background check. Other infractions that fall into this category include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), driving on a suspended or revoked license, and any instances of vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. Employers trying to fill driving-related positions will likely look at these types of red flags as disqualifying offenses, simply because hiring someone with one of these infractions is a major liability risk.
Does a Speeding Ticket Show up on a Background Check?
Ultimately, the best way to answer a question about whether a speeding ticket will show on a background check is probably just “It depends.” Depending on what types of background checks a prospective employer runs on you, there is always a chance that past traffic violations may show up on those reports.
Driving history checks will find major and minor traffic violations, usually from the past seven years—speeding tickets included. Criminal history checks won’t show minor speeding tickets, but will include more severe criminal driving offenses such as DUIs and hit-and-runs.
Are you curious to know what your record looks like? Run criminal or driving record checks on yourself using backgroundchecks.com’s personal tools. These self-checks can give you a better sense of what employers might be seeing (and assuming) based on your record.
Do civil citations show up on background checks?
Most driving infractions are considered as “civil citations.” Speeding tickets, changing lanes without signaling, running a stop sign: all of these offenses fall into this category. These infractions will never show up on a criminal background check, but they will show on a driving history check.
Does driving without a license show up on a background check?
Driving without a license—whether you never had a license in the first place or were found driving on a license that was suspended or revoked—is one of the driving infractions that is considered to be a criminal matter. Even on a first offense, driving without a license is considered to be a much more severe violation of traffic law than, say, driving 10 miles over the speed limit. That first offense is usually considered a misdemeanor crime and is punishable in most states by a minor fine and possibly a short stint of jail time. For the second offense and beyond, though, driving without a license can be considered a felony and can result in much steeper fines or other consequences.
In any case, driving without a license is an offense that will show both on a criminal history check and a motor vehicle records check. The criminal classification for the offense can vary significantly depending on the state and how many offenses you have on your record.
Do speeding tickets show up on your driving record?
Yes, a speeding ticket will become a part of your motor vehicle record. Most employers that pull driving records will look back seven years, so if you’ve gotten a speeding citation in that time period, there’s a good chance they will see it.
Will a pending ticket show up on a background check?
When you get a traffic ticket, the police officer usually gives you a piece of paper listing your offense, your punishment (such as the fine you are required to pay), and any conditions you need to fulfill. However, just because you have the “ticket” in hand doesn’t necessarily mean it’s set in stone. Just as criminal prosecutions need to follow due process of law before you can be found guilty of a crime—and thus have a conviction recorded on your record—drivers must be given a chance to contest tickets if they wish to do so. This statement is especially true in the case of criminal traffic offenses, where the police and the prosecution will have to prove that the motorist committed the offense.
As such, all tickets are usually “pending” for a certain length of time after you receive them. A ticket you received yesterday isn’t necessarily a part of your driving record until you have received a formal Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) in the mail and decided on your next steps. If you choose to fight the ticket, it won’t be an official part of your record until the matter is settled. If you choose to accept guilt and pay the ticket, then your violation will become a formal part of your record as soon as the payment processes.
In either case, a pending ticket will still usually show up on your driving record. A pending criminal traffic offense, meanwhile, can be reported as part of your criminal history.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments