Types of checks

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

MVR Background Checks: What You Need to Know

An MVR background check is a background screening that examines a person’s driving record. Employers will often utilize this check as part of their pre-employment vetting process if they are filling jobs that involve the operation of a motor vehicle. Read on to learn about MVR reports, the information that they can reveal about a job candidate, 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 individual’s track record behind the wheel. An MVR will typically include pertinent information about a candidate’s driving history, including license class, standing, endorsements, restrictions, suspensions, and expirations, as well as tickets, traffic violations, and criminal convictions involving driving.

Why Is an MVR Important During the Background Check Process?

Not all employers 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 involves driving or operating heavy machinery.

Delivery drivers, ambulance drivers, public transit drivers, bus drivers, trucking or freight drivers, and certain positions in the construction industry are some of the roles that involve driving as a core or primary component of the position. Checking a candidate’s MVR report holds as much importance for these jobs as verifying a medical license does for a physician job at a hospital.

For positions that involve driving, it is vital for employers to ensure that each candidate has a driver’s license that is in good standing; possesses the license and endorsements required for the position; and doesn’t have a history of reckless or dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

In addition, 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 employers to determine how qualified and responsible a candidate is for a job that involves a lot of driving. When filling a driving position, employers are hiring an employee to drive on their company or organization’s behalf. As such, the employer will be, in part, responsible for anything that the driver does behind the wheel.

Hiring a driver with a history of license suspensions or a long list of driving infractions, or whose license doesn’t match the requirements of the position, is a legal, financial, and public image risk for an employer. Employers will look for red flags that might indicate that they should not trust a candidate with a company vehicle or the task of representing their brand on the road.

Is the driver’s license in good standing, or has it expired or been suspended or revoked? If the job requires a commercial driver’s license, or a higher level of license class or endorsement, does the driver meet those requirements? 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 crimes behind the wheel?

An MVR check can answer these questions and others, giving an employer a full picture of the candidate and how responsible he or she is 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 10 years. Employers are encouraged to put more weight on recent driving history than on offenses from five, seven, or nine years ago—especially if the individual has spent several years maintaining a clean driving record.

How to Get a Motor Vehicle Report

The best way to get a motor vehicle record for a candidate is to work with a reputed background check company. Background screening providers not only know which Department of Motor Vehicles databases to search but also understand the unique “language” of driving record reports.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) is a nationwide organization that governs DMVs across the country. The AAMVA has established a “code dictionary” for MVR check reports with a code for every type of driving infraction or conviction. A background check company can provide the guidance and resources that employers need to translate, interpret, and understand driving records.

Note that, similarly to other types of background checks, motor vehicle records qualify as consumer reports. Because of this classification, MVR reports are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) just as criminal history searches, resume verification checks, and other background screenings are.

Frequently Asked Questions


What does MVR stand for?

This common abbreviation is short for “Motor Vehicle Record.” An MVR report is a summary of a person’s driving record, including details about their license standing, infractions or traffic violations, and more.

What do employers look for on an MVR?

Checking driving records is not a universal part of the pre-employment screening process. If employers are hiring for jobs that will involve driving, 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 determine if a driver has the requisite license classification for the job or has red flags on their record that might make them a risky hire.

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

Because driving record information is not public record information and we retrieve the information directly from the respective state institution.

Will a DUI show up on a driving record report?

No, a DUI is not expected to show up. If you specifically want to order a search to uncover possible DUI offenses, we recommend you order a criminal search.

Can you report CDL information?

Yes, as part of a driving record report, we report the license class, which could be CDL.

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.

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