The MVR Background Check: A Vital Tool in Transportation

What is an MVR check? MVR stands for “motor vehicle record.” An MVR uses a license number to find someone’s driving history based on official records. MVR screening is an important part of hiring people for transportation jobs.

MVR Background Checks: What You Need to Know

An MVR background check is a screening tool that considers someone’s record of operating motor vehicles. Employers check these histories when filling jobs such as driving a school bus or a tractor-trailer or using company vehicles. Read on to learn more about MVR screening with this guide. We’ll review the information these records contain and their value as part of a background screening policy.

What Is a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and What Does it Show?

What is an MVR? A “motor vehicle record” is an account of an individual’s driving history. An MVR typically includes relevant facts about a candidate’s driving records. These might consist of the driver’s:

  • License class
  • Current license status, e.g. suspended or revoked
  • License endorsements
  • License restrictions
  • Expiration dates

MVRs also commonly include information on driver infractions. You might see speeding tickets, moving violations, and driving-related criminal convictions.

Why Is an MVR Important During the Background Check Process?

Not all companies use—or need to use—an MVR check as part of their background investigation process. A candidate’s MVR is only relevant if a job involves operating motor vehicles or heavy machinery.

Who can expect to encounter a hiring process that uses a pre-employment driving record check? Some examples of job roles that require this screening include:

  • Delivery drivers for UPS or Amazon
  • Ambulance drivers
  • Public transit and taxi operators
  • Truck drivers
  • Roles in construction involving large equipment, e.g. dump trucks

A regular employee with access to company vehicles may need to submit to MVR requirements. If someone drives on company time, an MVR report may be necessary. Checking driving records is as important for these jobs as verifying a medical license for doctors at a hospital. Failing to examine driving records could violate the law in your area and constitute evidence of future negligent hiring.

With that in mind, businesses must mitigate such risks through due diligence. You must ensure that transportation candidates have a license in good standing. Furthermore, you must confirm that someone holds the correct license type, such as a CDL. Confirm that a driver has the appropriate license endorsements, too. For example, a truck driver might need an endorsement for transporting hazardous cargo. Hiring managers should also verify that applicants don’t have a history of reckless behavior behind the wheel.

All industries regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) must conduct MVR checks as part of their hiring process—it is a matter of federal law. The requirement applies broadly to trucking, freight, and logistics industries.

What Do Employers Look for in an MVR?

Running an MVR background check is a vital step for organizations. It is a part of the process, just as reviewing a candidate’s resume. The goal is to find qualified, responsible drivers for jobs involving substantial transportation. Remember, these drivers are representatives of your business on the road—they drive on your behalf. As such, employers may be liable for an employee’s actions.

Scrutinizing drivers who apply to work with your business is necessary. Hiring the wrong driver could create legal risks for a company. Someone with a history of license suspensions or a long list of citations could be a risky hire. Their actions might cause legal and financial issues. Hiring someone without the appropriate license, endorsements, or experience also creates risks. Your company might take the blame if that person’s lack of experience leads to a serious accident. Besides these risks, poor hiring practices can create a PR nightmare for your brand.

MVR reports make the process of completing due diligence simpler. These records might contain red flags that indicate a candidate might not be a trustworthy driver. What types of questions should an employer ask when evaluating someone’s suitability? There are several angles to consider. Here are some of the most common questions you should ask when checking an MVR.

  • Is the driver’s license in good standing and currently valid?
  • Has the driver ever had their license suspended or revoked?
  • Does the driver have a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License, if necessary?
  • Does the driver’s CDL have the required endorsements for the role?
  • Has the driver been a party in road accidents?
  • Does the driver routinely receive traffic tickets, such as for speeding?
  • Has the driver ever had a conviction for driving under the influence?
  • Have they ever committed other crimes while driving?

MVR checks can answer these questions and others, giving an employer a full picture of the candidate and how responsible they are as a driver.

How Far Back Does a Motor Vehicle Report Go?

There is no comprehensive national database for searching driving records. That means there is also no national standard for how far back MVR checks can go. Each state has a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and its own laws that limit how far back a driving check goes.

In most cases, state laws limit the lookback period of an MVR, meaning you’ll only see a portion of an applicant’s driving record. Employers can typically review between three to seven years of driving history. Some states may go back ten years. As with criminal records, time and severity are important factors to consider. Companies may wish to weigh recent driving history more heavily than issues at the edge of the lookback period. If someone has spent years with a clean record, older MVR entries may not always have as much relevance.

How to Get a Motor Vehicle Report

The best way to get a candidate’s motor vehicle record (MVR) is to work with a reputable background check company. Background screening providers know which Department of Motor Vehicles databases to search. These providers offer convenient online options for ordering an MVR. These companies also understand the unique “language” of driving history reports. Such assistance makes acquiring and interpreting these checks’ results a simpler process. Otherwise, you may not recognize unsafe driving records.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) governs DMVs nationwide. The AAMVA has established a “code dictionary” for MVR reports. Each code corresponds to a specific driving infraction or conviction. A background check company can provide the guidance and resources hiring managers need to translate, interpret, and understand driving records and their codes.

Note that MVR checks qualify as consumer reports. That classification makes them subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You must follow FCRA rules here just as you would when ordering a criminal background check.The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Non-discrimination rules will also come into play.

As a result, you will need to meet the FCRA’s requirements. You must provide a standalone disclosure form stating your intent to order MVR records. If you think you will deny an applicant based on what the report contained, you must provide a “pre-adverse action notice.” This notice must include a copy of the report you used. After allowing a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to respond with clarifying information, you can issue a final “adverse action notice.” Such notice concludes the hiring process for that individual.

With, you can order an MVR check online quickly and easily. We provide a fully compliant process that generates reports you can read and understand. Discover more about how to screen driving job applicants safely.


What does MVR stand for?

This common abbreviation is short for “Motor Vehicle Record.” An MVR report summarizes a person’s driving history. It includes details about their license status, endorsements, driving violations, etc.

What is an MVR check?

An MVR check provides employers access to an individual’s motor vehicle record. An MVR check is a mandatory part of the hiring process for many businesses. Any company regulated by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) must use them. Like a criminal history search, a driver background check is critical to safe hiring practices.

What is a clean MVR report?

A clean Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) won’t contain evidence of problematic behavior behind the wheel. “Clean” often means the driver has had no major driving violations in the reporting period. They may also not have any major accidents on their record. However, remember that a clean MVR report does not always guarantee suitability.

Records could go back as far as ten years but contain as little as three years of driving history. Before hiring drivers, you should still investigate the individual’s skills to see if they match your business purposes. Besides an MVR, a road test may be necessary.

What do employers look for in an MVR?

Checking driving records is not a universal part of the pre-employment screening process. They may use these checks if companies need to hire for driving jobs. Employers look for information that helps protect the company from possible problems in the future. Hiring someone with a history of DUIs who goes on to cause an accident could create a liability for the company. An MVR check for employers reduces the risks of property damage, public image fallout, and other concerns.

An employer could use an MVR check to mitigate risk by determining if a driver has the right license for the job. They also look for red flags, such as unsafe driving records, that might make someone a risky hire. Employers also look to see if an individual has a current license and to confirm they are a safe driver.

How far back do employers check driving records?

The answer to this question varies based on the employer’s jurisdiction. Department of Transportation regulations require employers to check driving records for every state in which someone held a license for the past three years. You may need to order an MVR for multiple states in these cases. Local laws will govern the “lookback period” for driving records. A typical average for reporting is about five years, but each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles may vary.

Why must I sign a special agreement to order driving record reports?

Driving record information is not classified as public information in the same way as criminal records. We retrieve MVR results directly from each state’s driving records institution. This process requires additional legal agreements.

Will a DUI show up on a driving record report?

Yes, driving under the influence (DUI) convictions will appear on MVR reports. These are traffic-related convictions. If you need more specific information about an individual’s criminal past, you may need to look beyond the MVR. A criminal history search can help uncover other, possibly older, DUI offenses.

Can you report CDL information?

Yes, as part of a driving record report, we relate the type of licenses the individual holds, including commercial license status.

Do you have an overview of the access costs that each state charges?

No, these vary by state and are subject to change without notice. These access charges range from a few dollars to over $20. Before you finalize your order, we will show the exact access fee for that state at that time.

Can I run my own motor vehicle record?

In addition to enabling employers to vet a candidate’s motor vehicle record/MVR, offers a way for drivers to get a motor vehicle record that summarizes their driving record. Whether you are an employer checking a candidate’s driving history or a driver interested in obtaining a copy of your own driving report, sign up today to start ordering MVR reports with a fast turnaround time.

Get instant updates on Driving Records

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

Michael's recent publications

More Like This Post

State Criminal Search

Virginia Criminal Search

A Virginia state background check can uncover more criminal records. Learn about these tools and the legal restrictions involved.

Order a Search for Virginia