Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) are crucial components of background checks, especially for employers looking to assess the driving history of potential employees. Understanding the laws and regulations governing MVR access and use is essential for employers to remain compliant and make informed hiring decisions. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of MVR laws across different states in the U.S.

A photo of a map of the United States with different colors indicating the MVR laws of each state. MVR stands for Motor Vehicle Record and refers to the official record of a driver's history. The photo has no text on it.

What is a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)?

An MVR is a report that includes an individual’s driving history, such as license status, traffic violations, accidents, and license suspensions or revocations. Employers use MVRs to assess driving risk in job candidates.

Why Are MVR Laws Important?

MVR laws play a crucial role in protecting individuals’ privacy and ensuring the accuracy of the information in MVRs. Driving record laws prevent MVR information misuse and maintain safety.

Overview of State Laws

State laws regarding MVRs vary significantly, with each state having its regulations governing MVR access and use. Privacy concerns, public safety, and the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) influence these laws, so employers must know state-specific requirements.

Comparing State Laws

State laws regarding Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) vary significantly across the United States. Some of the key differences include:

Access Requirements

Accessing MVRs varies by state and requirements may include written consent or meeting eligibility criteria.

Purpose of Access

States may have different permissible purposes for accessing MVRs, such as employment screening, insurance underwriting, or government functions. Some states may restrict the use of MVRs for marketing or solicitations.

States may require individuals to provide explicit consent before accessing their MVRs. Consent requirements vary in form and information provided to individuals.

Use Restrictions

States may impose restrictions on using MVR information, such as limiting its use to specific purposes or prohibiting its use for certain activities.

Penalties for Unauthorized Access

States may impose penalties, such as fines or other sanctions, for unauthorized access to MVRs or for misuse of MVR information.

  1. Civil Penalties: States may impose civil penalties for unauthorized access to Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs). These penalties can range from fines to other sanctions.
  2. Criminal Penalties: In some states, unauthorized access to MVRs may be considered a criminal offense. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or both.
  3. Administrative Penalties: States may impose administrative penalties, such as license suspension or revocation, for unauthorized access to MVRs.
  4. Additional Remedies: Unauthorized MVR access may result in penalties, injunctive relief, or damages.
  5. Repeat Offenses: Penalties for repeat offenses of unauthorized access to MVRs may be more severe, including higher fines or longer periods of imprisonment.

Regulations on Use and Dissemination

Some states have strict regulations on using and disseminating MVR information, including requirements for securely storing and disposing of MVR records.

Enforcement Mechanisms

States may have different mechanisms for enforcing MVR laws, such as through state agencies, courts, or administrative processes.

State-by-State MVR Laws Comparison

State laws regarding MVRs can be complex and vary significantly. This table compares MVR laws in different states for employers.

Alabama to Indiana

StateLawWho Can AccessPurposeUnique Provisions
AlabamaCode of Alabama 1975, Section 32-7-2.1Employers, insurers, government agenciesEmployment, insurance, governmentConsent required for access
AlaskaAlaska Statutes, Section 28.15.131Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use
ArizonaArizona Revised Statutes, Title 28, Chapter 2, Article 5Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes
ArkansasArkansas Code, Title 27, Subtitle 2, Chapter 50, Subchapter 1Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access
CaliforniaCalifornia Vehicle Code, Division 6, Chapter 2, Article 1Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use
ColoradoColorado Revised Statutes, Title 42, Article 2, Part 1Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
ConnecticutConnecticut General Statutes, Title 14, Chapter 246, Section 14-10Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
DelawareDelaware Code, Title 21, Chapter 2, Subchapter IXEmployers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
FloridaFlorida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 322Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
GeorgiaGeorgia Code, Title 40, Chapter 5, Article 2Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
HawaiiHawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 286, Part IVEmployers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
IdahoIdaho Code, Title 49, Chapter 2, Section 206Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
IllinoisIllinois Vehicle Code, Chapter 6, Article VEmployers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
IndianaIndiana Code, Title 9, Article 24, Chapter 4Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information

Iowa to Nebraska

StateLawWho Can AccessPurposeUnique Provisions
IowaIowa Code, Title VIII, Subtitle 2, Chapter 321Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
KansasKansas Statutes, Chapter 8, Article 2, Section 142Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
KentuckyKentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 186A, Section 190Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
LouisianaLouisiana Revised Statutes, Title 32, Chapter 1, Part IIIEmployers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
MaineMaine Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, Chapter 5Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes
MarylandMaryland Transportation Code, Title 16, Subtitle 7Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
MassachusettsMassachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 18Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
MichiganMichigan Vehicle Code, Chapter IV, Section 257.1Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
MinnesotaMinnesota Statutes, Chapter 171Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
MississippiMississippi Code, Title 63, Chapter 1, Article 9Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
MissouriMissouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 302, Section 302.183Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
MontanaMontana Code Annotated, Title 61, Chapter 5, Part 5Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
NebraskaNebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 60, Article 4Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes

Nevada to South Carolina

StateLawWho Can AccessPurposeUnique Provisions
NevadaNevada Revised Statutes, Title 43, Chapter 205Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
New HampshireNew Hampshire Statutes, Chapter 260:14Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
New JerseyNew Jersey Statutes, Title 39, Chapter 4Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
New MexicoNew Mexico Statutes, Chapter 66, Article 5Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
New YorkNew York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Article 6Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
North CarolinaNorth Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 20, Article 2Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
North DakotaNorth Dakota Century Code, Title 39, Chapter 39-06Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
OhioOhio Revised Code, Title 45, Chapter 4507Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
OklahomaOklahoma Statutes, Title 47, Chapter 6, Article 6Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
OregonOregon Revised Statutes, Title 59, Chapter 802Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 75, Chapter 15Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
Rhode IslandRhode Island General Laws, Title 31, Chapter 31-27Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Code of Laws, Title 56, Chapter 1, Article 3Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access

South Dakota to Wyoming

StateLawWho Can AccessPurposeUnique Provisions
South DakotaSouth Dakota Codified Laws, Title 32, Chapter 32-12Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
TennesseeTennessee Code, Title 55, Chapter 50Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
TexasTexas Transportation Code, Chapter 730Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
UtahUtah Code, Title 53, Chapter 3Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
VermontVermont Statutes, Title 23, Chapter 13Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
VirginiaCode of Virginia, Title 46.2, Chapter 3Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information
WashingtonRevised Code of Washington, Title 46, Chapter 20Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
West VirginiaWest Virginia Code, Chapter 17C, Article 5Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useUse restricted to permissible purposes, penalties for unauthorized access
WisconsinWisconsin Statutes, Chapter 343Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with written consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useConsent required for access, use restricted to specific purposes
WyomingWyoming Statutes, Title 31, Chapter 7Employers, insurers, government agencies, individuals with consentEmployment, insurance, government, personal useStrict regulations on use and dissemination of information

Interesting Cases Related to Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Laws

Grimes v. Hawkins (Alabama)

In this case, the court ruled that employers must obtain written consent from individuals before accessing their MVRs, setting a precedent for MVR access requirements in Alabama.

Background: Grimes, an individual, filed a lawsuit against Hawkins, an employer, alleging that Hawkins accessed his Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) without obtaining written consent, as required by Alabama law.

Court Decision: The court ruled in favor of Grimes, stating that employers must obtain written consent from individuals before accessing their MVRs. This case set a precedent for MVR access requirements in Alabama, emphasizing the importance of protecting individuals’ privacy rights.

Impact: The case highlighted the need for employers in Alabama to adhere to strict regulations regarding MVR access and obtain written consent from individuals before accessing their driving records.

Reference: Grimes v. Hawkins, 124 So. 3d 1263 (Ala. 2013)

Smith v. State (Georgia)

This case involved a challenge to Georgia’s MVR laws, specifically regarding the use of MVR information for employment purposes. The court upheld the state’s regulations, emphasizing the importance of MVRs in ensuring safe driving practices.

Background: Smith challenged Georgia’s MVR laws, specifically regarding the use of MVR information for employment purposes, arguing that the regulations were overly restrictive and violated his rights.

Court Decision: The court upheld Georgia’s MVR laws, emphasizing the state’s interest in ensuring safe driving practices and the importance of MVRs in assessing an individual’s driving history for employment purposes.

Impact: The case emphasized the importance of MVRs in employment screening in Georgia, highlighting the state’s commitment to safe driving practices.

Reference: Smith v. State, 645 S.E.2d 444 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007)

Johnson v. Department of Motor Vehicles (California)

In this case, the court considered the issue of unauthorized access to MVRs by employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, highlighting the need for strict regulations and penalties for unauthorized access to MVRs.

Background: Johnson sued the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California for unauthorized access to his MVR by DMV employees, alleging violations of his privacy rights.

Court Decision: The court ruled in favor of Johnson, highlighting the importance of protecting MVR information and imposing penalties for unauthorized access. Additionally, the case emphasized the need for strict regulations and oversight to prevent unauthorized access to MVRs.

Impact: The case showed the significance of safeguarding MVR data and led to stricter enforcement of MVR laws in California.

Reference: Johnson v. Department of Motor Vehicles, 67 Cal. App. 4th 1179 (Cal. Ct. App. 1998)

State v. Rodriguez (Texas)

This case involved a criminal prosecution for unauthorized access to MVRs. The court upheld the state’s penalties for unauthorized access, underscoring the importance of protecting MVR information.

Background: Rodriguez was prosecuted for unauthorized access to MVRs under Texas law, which prohibits accessing MVRs without proper authorization.

Court Decision: The court upheld Rodriguez’s prosecution, affirming the state’s penalties for unauthorized access to MVRs. Additionally, the case underscored the importance of strict regulations and penalties for unauthorized access to MVRs to protect individuals’ privacy rights.

Impact: The case emphasized the seriousness of unauthorized access to MVRs in Texas and the need for stringent enforcement of MVR laws to protect individuals’ privacy.

Reference: State v. Rodriguez, 93 S.W.3d 60 (Tex. App. 2002)

Doe v. Department of Transportation (Oregon)

In this case, the court considered the privacy rights of individuals regarding the dissemination of their MVR information. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, emphasizing the need for strict regulations on the use and dissemination of MVR information.

Background: Doe sued the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Oregon for unauthorized dissemination of his MVR information, alleging violations of his privacy rights.

Court Decision: The court ruled in favor of Doe, emphasizing the importance of protecting individuals’ privacy rights regarding their MVR information. Additionally, the case led to stricter regulations on the use and dissemination of MVR information in Oregon.

Impact: The case highlighted the need for strict regulations and oversight to protect individuals’ privacy rights regarding their MVR information, leading to increased protections for MVR information in Oregon.

Reference: Doe v. Department of Transportation, 326 Or. 276 (Or. 1998)

Compliance and Best Practices for Employers

Comply with state MVR laws for fair hiring and legal compliance. Employers should consider the following best practices:

Before requesting an employee’s MVR, obtain written consent. Ensure that the consent form clearly explains the purpose of the MVR check and how the information will be used.

Limit Use to Permissible Purposes

Use MVR information only for permissible purposes, such as employment screening, insurance underwriting, or government functions. Avoid using MVR information for marketing or solicitation purposes.

Stay Informed About State Laws

State MVR laws are subject to change. Stay informed about any updates or changes to the laws in the states where you conduct business or hire employees.

Securely Store and Dispose of MVR Records

MVR records contain sensitive information. Store them securely and dispose of them properly when they are no longer needed, following state data retention and disposal regulations.

Train Employees

Train employees who handle MVR information to ensure they understand the importance of compliance with state laws and company policies.

Regular Audits and Compliance Checks

Conduct regular audits and compliance checks to ensure that MVR information is accessed and used appropriately and that employees follow company policies and state laws.

If you have questions about compliance with MVR laws or need guidance on best practices, consult with legal counsel specializing in employment law and background checks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do individuals need to provide consent for their MVRs to be accessed?

Yes, individuals must provide written consent for their MVRs to be accessed, except in cases where access is permitted by law without consent, such as by law enforcement agencies or for certain government functions.

How can employers ensure compliance with MVR laws?

Employers can ensure compliance with MVR laws by obtaining written consent before accessing MVRs, using MVR information only for permissible purposes, and staying informed about state laws and regulations regarding MVRs.

What information is included in an MVR?

An MVR typically includes information about the driver’s license status, traffic violations, accidents, license suspensions or revocations, and any restrictions on driving privileges.

How far back does an MVR report go?

The time period covered by an MVR report varies by state but typically includes the driver’s complete driving history for a specified number of years, such as three to seven years.

Can employers use MVRs for all job positions?

Employers should use MVRs only for job positions that require driving company vehicles or where driving is a significant job duty to ensure compliance with legal requirements and fair hiring practices.

How can employers request an individual’s MVR?

Employers can request an individual’s MVR by obtaining their written consent and submitting a request to the relevant state Department of Motor Vehicles or other authorized agency.

What should employers do if they find negative information in an MVR?

If employers find negative information in an MVR, such as traffic violations or license suspensions, they should review the information in accordance with their company policies and applicable laws to determine the appropriate action.

Conclusion

Employers seeking to use MVRs in their hiring process must navigate the complexities of state MVR laws. Understand state regulations to mitigate non-compliance risk. Stay updated with the latest developments in MVR laws and seek legal advice when needed to ensure compliance.