What Is an MVR Background Check in the U.S.?

Jacquelyn Bulao
Jacquelyn Bulao

Updated · Feb 07, 2023


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What is an MVR background check?” is a common question among applicants trying to get a job that includes driving as one of its responsibilities.

In essence, motor vehicle records are official documents issued by state DMV offices that contain the candidate’s detailed driving history.

Keep on reading as we tell you precisely what they comprise, how far back they go, and how to get one for job application purposes.

What Are MVR Background Checks?

Motor vehicle records are useful background screening tools that employers rely on when determining whether or not to hire a particular applicant. However, they are only one aspect of the entire background screening process, which may include other kinds of checks, such as criminal, medical, credit, educational, and employment records.

MVR documents are essential when the job candidate is expected to drive or operate heavy equipment, be it a company car, bus, truck, or even a forklift. At the end of the day, employers must ensure they hire skilled drivers that obey the rule of law, as they will represent the company’s interests and be responsible for the safety of others.

Consequently, if a company fails to complete this mandatory step, it leaves itself open to legal and PR liabilities if and when the driver commits any infraction.

Note: Driving records are considered consumer reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so they must be shared with someone with a valid reason to see them. Also, legal parties using the information for employment, insurance, or credit purposes must notify the report’s holder if they withhold a product, service, or job based on the report.

What Do Employers Look For in an MVR?

To ensure compliance with state regulations, assure their customers’ safety, and protect their brand, employers are typically interested in the following:

  • The applicant’s authorization to drive—a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right, so candidates must prove they hold valid and unexpired driving credentials;
  • The license type and class—depending on the vehicle the employee is expected to operate, they must have the corresponding type and class of license;
  • The number of driving violations—the most crucial factor is whether or not the applicant has exhibited safe driving practices in the past;
  • The applicant’s character traits—the presence or absence of traffic infractions also speak volumes about the applicant’s character. For instance, hiring a candidate with several DUIs is perhaps inadvisable as it shows they cannot be trusted.

All in all, an MVR shows everything from license endorsements and restrictions to every recorded suspension, revocation, and minor and major violations of the law, including parking and speeding tickets, moving infractions, and felony violations.

How Far Back Does an MVR Report Go?

Since there’s no comprehensive MVR database for the entirety of the U.S., there’s no consensus on the length of time they cover. In fact, individual motor vehicle departments determine the lookback period of the checks they conduct.

That said, most MVR background checks cover the last three to seven years of an applicant’s driving history, with some going back as far as a decade. In any case, employers are always suggested to focus on the driver’s most recent driving history and whether or not they have kept a clean driving record for several consecutive years.

What’s Continuous MVR Monitoring?

As the name suggests, continuous MVR monitoring is a service that keeps an eye on the driving records of the record holder on an ongoing basis. 

However, such service is only offered by third-party background check providers who are able to track hundreds of employees at once and inform the service receiver whenever there is any change or cause for concern that would put their company at risk.

Who Can Get an MVR Check?

MVR documents are officially obtained via the DMV that issued the candidate’s driving license and are typically applied for by the following parties:

  • Employers vetting potential workers—if the HR department of the hiring company is only dealing with a few applicants, they may spare the time and apply for MVR checks themselves via any of the available application channels;
  • Job candidates themselves—most often, employers ask the record holders themselves to obtain and submit their MVRs, which they can easily do in one of several methods in most states, including online, in person, and by phone;
  • Third-party background check companies—third-party providers offer the fastest MVR service and present the report in a standardized readable format, as a number of DMVs use codes when listing driving offenses.

During the application process, petitioners are generally asked to provide the individual’s full name as it appears on the license, the driving license number, and a minor fee.

Bottom Line

Since MVR checks are considered consumer reports, they can be freely used by employers during the hiring process and for further employee evaluations. They are also necessary for positions involving driving as part of the applicant’s regular duties. 

However, in addition to a driver’s history behind the wheel, MVRs include other sensitive information, such as the holder’s name, birth date, and license class and status. Therefore, if you apply for one, you should refrain from sharing it with anyone.


What does MVR stand for?

MVR stands for a ‘motor vehicle record’ and contains the entire official history of your time driving with a credential issued by your state’s DMV.

Will a DUI show up on a driving record report?

Yes! DUIs and other infractions are shown and remain on your report for a certain period or until the end of your driving career, depending on your state laws.

Can I run my own motor vehicle record?

Once you learn what is an MVR background check, you’ll also find out that you can request your own record at any time via your state’s DMV services.


Jacquelyn Bulao

Jacquelyn Bulao

I am a natural-born connector, known for long-standing and effective business partnerships. I am fuelled by my passion for human resources and my genuine love of connecting with others. To date, my knowledge & determination to transform information into action & initiatives have contributed to my successful career. HR is something that I live and breathe, and I know the impact it has in transforming businesses; and the lives of those who work inside it.

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