What Is an MVR Check & Why Should Your Company Care?

What is an MVR check? It is a reporting tool that uses a license number to access an individual's driving history based on official driving records. MVR checks are an important part of hiring people for transportation jobs.

MVR Background Checks: What You Need to Know

An MVR background check is a background screening tool that examines a person’s record of operating motor vehicles. Employers will often utilize this check as part of their pre-employment vetting process when filling jobs involving a motor vehicle, such as driving a school bus, operating a tractor-trailer, or using company vehicles. Read on to learn more about MVR checks, the information that driving records can reveal, and their value as part of a comprehensive background screening policy to identify candidates suitable for the job.

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 behind the wheel. An MVR will typically include relevant facts about a candidate’s driving records, including their license class, current standing with driving authorities, license endorsements and restrictions, suspensions, and expirations. MVRs also include information on infractions incurred by the driver, such as speeding tickets, moving traffic violations, and some criminal convictions involving driving. 

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 report is only relevant if a job always or frequently involves driving motor vehicles or operating heavy machinery.

Who can expect to encounter a hiring process that uses MVR reports for employment purposes? Delivery drivers, ambulance drivers, public transit drivers, contract drivers, trucking or freight drivers, and some positions in the construction industry are just a few roles that involve driving as a core or primary component of the position. Even a regular employee with access to company vehicles may need to submit to MVR requests.

Checking a candidate’s MVR report is as important for these jobs as verifying a medical license for a physician’s job at a hospital. Failing to examine driving records could be a violation of the law in your area or grounds for negligent hiring in the future.

With that in mind, businesses need to mitigate risk by ensuring that candidates for positions that involve driving have a license in good standing. Furthermore, companies must identify candidates with the correct driver’s license type and the specific endorsements required for the position. Finally, hiring managers should verify that their applicant doesn’t have a history of reckless or dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

Any industries regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT)—including trucking, freight, and logistics—are federally required to conduct MVR checks as part of their hiring process.

What Do Employers Look for in an MVR?

Running an MVR background check is typically a way for a business to determine how qualified and responsible drivers may be for a job involving substantial transportation. When filling a driver position, companies hire an employee to drive on their company or organization’s behalf. On the road, those employees are the representatives of your business. As such, the employer will be partly responsible for anything the driver does behind the wheel.

That responsibility means scrutinizing applicants who want to drive for your business is a good practice. Hiring drivers with a history of license suspensions or a long list of driving infractions creates legal and financial risks for an employer. Likewise, there can be severe consequences for hiring someone whose license doesn’t match the requirements of the position if they later cause a serious accident. Aside from the risk of a lawsuit and financial damage, poor hiring practices can create a PR nightmare for companies.

MVR reports make the process of completing due diligence simpler. Businesses must look for red flags that might indicate they should not trust a candidate with a company vehicle or the task of representing their brand on the road. What types of questions should an employer ask when evaluating someone’s suitability? There are several angles to consider.

Is the candidate’s driver’s license in good standing, or is it currently invalid for some reason? Has it expired, been suspended, or even revoked? Does the driver meet those requirements if the job requires a commercial driver’s license (called a CDL) or a higher license class or endorsement level? Has the driver been involved in a disproportionate number of accidents or received a high number of speeding tickets? Has the driver ever been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other vehicular crimes behind the wheel?

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, which means that 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 check to three to seven years, though some states may go back ten years. Companies are encouraged to put more weight on recent driving history than on offenses from several years ago—especially if the individual has spent a few years maintaining a clean driving record.

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 that can deliver a fast turnaround time. Background screening providers not only know which Department of Motor Vehicles databases to search but 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) is a nationwide organization governing DMVs nationwide. The AAMVA has established a “code dictionary” for MVR check reports with a code for every driving infraction or conviction. A background check company can provide the guidance and resources that hiring managers need to translate, interpret, and understand driving records and their codes.

Note that, similarly to other types of background checks, motor vehicle records qualify as consumer reports. Because of this classification, MVR checks are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), just as searches for criminal records, resume verification checks, and other background screenings are. Non-discrimination rules the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission set will also come into play.

As a result, you will need to meet the FCRA’s requirements, such as providing 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” and a copy of the report. After allowing a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to respond with clarifying information, you can issue a final “adverse action notice” and conclude the hiring process for that individual.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What does MVR stand for?

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

What is an MVR check?

A motor vehicle record (MVR) check is a reporting product that provides employers access to an individual’s motor vehicle record. An MVR check is a mandatory part of the hiring process for any businesses that fall under the regulations of the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). Like a background check, a motor vehicle record check is a critical part of a safe and well-informed process for hiring drivers.

What is a clean MVR report?

A clean motor vehicle record (MVR) report displays no serious evidence of problematic behavior behind the wheel. “Clean” most often means that the driver has had no driving violations and has not been involved in any accidents for the entire reporting period of the record. This could be as few as three years or as long as ten years of driving history. However, remember that a clean MVR report does not guarantee suitability. 

Before hiring drivers, you should still investigate the individual’s endorsements and on-the-road skills to see if they match your business purposes. 

What do employers look for on an MVR?

Checking driving records is not a universal part of the pre-employment screening process. If businesses need to hire for driving jobs, they may use these checks to protect the company from liability risk, 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 requisite license classification for the job or has red flags such as unsafe driving records that might make them a risky hire. They may 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 do I need to 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, even though their use in individualized assessments is very similar. We retrieve MVR results directly from the respective state institution, which 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 because they are traffic-related convictions. However, if you want more specific information about an individual’s criminal past or to uncover other, possibly older, DUI offenses, we recommend ordering other screenings, such as a criminal search.

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

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