Driving Records in Alabama: Where You Can View Yours, and How They Can Affect You
In Alabama, driving records are officially known as MVRs (Motor Vehicle Record), and are meant to provide a detailed history of driving violations, citations, suspensions, and other pertinent details about and individual’s history behind the wheel.
What are MVRs used for?
MVRs are used for a wide variety of different functions, including the calculation of insurance rates, how much receiving a new traffic or parking citation will cost you, and how to determine if your license has been revoked and for how long. Further, some employers and crediting agencies will require an MVR before they hire you or issue you credit of particular natures.
Where can I get a copy of my MVR?
While the Department of Public Safety of Alabama provides these for the public of Alabama, this can be a slow, time-consuming process. Thankfully, there are faster ways that you can receive details of your driving record (or that of other people if they grant you permission). The primary official avenue to obtain an MVR is through the DPS, and details, including phone numbers and addresses, can be found here: http://www.dps.state.al.us/DriverLicense/Reinstatement.aspx. An official, offline copy of your MVR will cost $5.75.
Alternatively, there are a number of third-party, private businesses that specialize in obtaining official MVRs, both for yourself and for other people, and they can do so much faster than the Alabama DPS. However, their services are also more expensive than official channels, but they are the best choice if you need access to an MVR quickly.
How does my MVR impact my insurance rates?
One of the most common reasons that citizens request a copy of their MVR is so that they can have some idea of the auto insurance rates they will be charged. While the actual formula used to determine these rates is not made public, each item on your MVR will have an impact on your premiums.
Having certain things on your MVR, such as accidents in which you were at fault (and sometimes, ones in which you were not at fault), or receiving reckless driving citations, will cause your insurance premiums to rise.
How can I lower my auto insurance rates after they rise?
There are a few things that you can do to minimize these extra charges, though. The first, and easiest, is just to keep your driving record clean. This means no speeding, taking care when parking, and driving as defensively as possible. However, if your rates have risen after an accident or a ticket, you can request an investigation into the crash to determine if it was the fault of the other driver, and you can even request forgiveness from your auto insurer. Many insurance providers will provide forgiveness for the first accident you are involved in, and some will even forgive one accident every nine years.
Keeping your insurance premiums down
Another way to keep your insurance rates down is to avoid heavily modifying your vehicle. Insurance companies raise premiums on modified cars for several reasons: first, in the case of faster, more powerful engines, and features found on sports cars like spoilers, because the car will be able to accelerate faster and thus will present a larger automobile accident risk. Premiums are raised to mitigate this risk.
The second reason is because, depending on your coverage, every component of your car can be covered by your insurance plan. If you install expensive leather seats or a nice speaker system, then the insurance company will raise your rates to cover their potential loss. If having modifications like these is important to you, make sure that they are covered in case of accident or theft – just be aware that you will have higher insurance premiums.
Some other tips to lower your insurance premiums include attending a driving school after receiving a traffic citation, moving to an area with low crime rates, and increasing your deductible. This last option should only be taken if you are sure that you can afford to pay more out of pocket for car repairs, but want to save money over time due to lower premiums.