MVR Reports: What Are They And Why Should Employers Care About Them?

Male cop checking the drivers license of a woman in a convertible car.

The “MVR”—a type of background check that reveals a person’s driving history—is an essential tool for any employer with workers who drive motor vehicles for their job. This includes long-haul truckers, delivery drivers, contract drivers in the gig economy, anyone who drives a company-owned car, and more.

There’s good reason for employers to be aware of past driving violations, because a history of certain violations on an MVR can be predictive of future accidents: A truck crash prediction study found statistical links between 10 categories of past driving infractions and likelihood of future accidents. Drivers with reckless driving violations on their MVR were found 114% more likely to be involved in crashes than those without them, and past violators of failure to yield right of way laws were 101% more likely to be involved in crashes.

This overview explains how MVRs are used, how information they contain can differ by state, and procedures for obtaining them quickly, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

What Is An MVR?

An MVR—short for “motor vehicle record” or “motor vehicle report”—is a background check focused on an individual’s driving history. An MVR reveals whether the subject of the screening is properly licensed to drive, if their driving record includes criminal offenses, moving violations, or failure to pay tickets or fines.

MVRs are obtained from the motor vehicle department in the state that issued the person’s current driver’s license.

What Information Appears In An MVR Report?

An MVR reports whether a license is valid, and lists any license revocations or suspensions, accidents, driving offenses and other infractions. MVR findings may include the following items:

  • Accident Reports: If an individual was involved in an accident, it is noted in the MVR, with a description of whether the incident involved property damage, personal injury, or death.
  • Traffic Violations: MVR reports can reflect a host of moving violations, from speeding to failure to yield the right of way. Entries vary according to differences in state traffic laws. 
  • License Suspensions: If a state has revoked an individual’s driving privileges, that will be indicated in an MVR report, along with the reasons for doing so.
  • Vehicular Crimes: MVR reports list criminal offenses involving use of a motor vehicle, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) and vehicular homicide.

Many states list MVR findings using a coding system established by the nonprofit American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). Some states present MVRs findings using their own coding systems.

How Far Back Does An MVR Report Go?

The length of time that MVR reports cover varies by state, however many states maintain MVR records for three years, while some date back as far as seven years.

Most but not all states share driving infraction data, so MVR reports may reflect incidents that occurred when the driver was licensed in a different state, prior to the issuance of their current license. It may also be possible in some cases to request an MVR from state(s) where the driver was licensed prior to receiving their current license.

Codes for cumulative offenses can enable MVR findings to capture incidents older than their states’ record-keeping limits. For instance, in a state that reports three years of driving history, an MVR entry indicating “Three serious violations within three years” could reflect offenses as old as six years. 

How Long Does Turnaround Take?

Most states maintain electronic driving-record databases and allow online processing of MVR requests, enabling delivery of electronic reports within the same day. Certified copies must be returned by mail, which can add days to the process, depending on the workload of DMV staff and the distance the mail must travel. Errors in the entry of driver’s license numbers or other personal information required when requesting an MVR can also delay delivery. 

Why Are MVR Reports Important?

Pre-employment MVRs can prevent the hiring of drivers with troubled histories who may pose safety risks to passengers, other motorists, freight and company employees and vehicles. 

Hiring drivers with clean driving records or few recent infractions can also help protect your company against liability claims, as well as help keep down insurance premiums.

In addition, companies designated as motor carriers by the U.S. Department of Transportation must request MVRs yearly for all drivers, and keep them on file for at least three years. 

What Are The Drawbacks Of Checking MVRs? 

MVR checks aren’t especially difficult to obtain, but they can create a variety of challenges for HR teams and hiring managers: 

  • Turnaround Times: While MVR results may be delivered very quickly, potential delays in processing times make them unpredictable, and that can delay the hiring process.
  • Requests from Multiple States: Pulling MVRs from multiple states, each with its own data-entry and payment forms, increases the chance of error and complicates bookkeeping. Different report formats and coding systems can also make reports from different states difficult to compare.
  • Bottleneck for High-volume Hiring: Organizations that need to add many drivers quickly may find MVRs to be a stumbling block, as outreach to multiple states, each with inconsistent report formats, complicates the hiring process.  
  • Laws and Regulations: When used in the hiring process or as a condition of continued employment, MVRs are governed by the same regulations as criminal background checks and other background screenings. A patchwork of state and local laws may apply depending on which state is issuing the MVR, and all MVRs are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The FCRA spells out strict requirements for when and how current or potential employers can conduct MVRs and other screenings. Failure to comply with FCRA regulations can bring financial penalties and expose violators to lawsuits.

How To Get An MVR Report

Proven approaches to obtaining MVR checks each have advantages and drawbacks. Whichever method is used, it’s critical that the employer comply with all applicable regulations.

  • Requesting the Candidate to Provide the MVR: Asking job candidates to furnish MVRs with their job applications minimizes the time and effort required by the hiring team, but obtaining certified copies by mail could take a week or longer, while use of electronic copies raises concerns about a candidate’s ability to alter the findings.
  • Ordering MVRs Directly from DMV: Ordering MVRs directly from state motor vehicle departments eliminates the potential for document manipulation, but makes greater demands on HR staff. Multiple state web forms introduce greater potential for error. Dealing with multiple state systems can create bookkeeping hassles (no invoicing, bulk purchases, etc.), and different report formats and coding systems can make individual state forms hard to interpret.
  • Using an FCRA-compliant Provider: Using a third-party background check provider to conduct MVRs may mean a higher cost per screening compared with ordering directly from state DMVs, but paying one vendor instead of multiple DMVs can simplify billing, speed turnaround times, and make reviewing results more efficient. (Background check specialists such as GoodHire also typically offer volume discounts.) Professional background check providers also typically present MVRs from all states in a standardized format that makes them easier to review and compare. 

Get Your MVR Report Today

If yours is one of the many organizations for which MVRs are critical, you may find the demands of requesting, tracking and administering the reports unwieldy and time-consuming.

GoodHire’s MVR background check service can simplify the process by delivering reports in an easy-to-read standard format and are typically returned within one day. GoodHire’s time-tested online interface minimizes data entry errors and helps ensure full compliance with FCRA and applicable state and local regulations.

Reach out to GoodHire today to learn more and get a quote on MVR services, or jump right in and get started right away.


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.