Do Infractions Go on Your Record? The Good News (Civil, Traffic, Driving)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | September 14, 2022

Do infractions go on your record a man wonders while holding up a magnifying glass to a public record displayed on a computer screen on the left, with a red car slightly behind him on the right parked in front of a parking meter that has expired, creating a civil infraction.

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It’s very easy to make a mistake and be charged with an infraction, and with background checks increasing in frequency, many people wonder do infractions go on your record?

These minor violations might seem trivial, but depending on the severity of the charge, whether or not an infraction goes on your record depends on a number factors.

The good news is that most infractions, especially those related to traffic tickets, won’t be part of what shows up on a background check.

This guide explains the different types of civil, traffic, and driving infractions, their consequences, and how they can impact employment and other records checks.

What Is Infraction Meaning in Law?

In law, the term “infraction” is generally used to denote a minor law violation, infringement or breach.19 This term is reserved for the most petty offenses.16

Compare and Contrast: Infraction VS. Misdemeanor

Most people are aware of the terms misdemeanor and felony as they relate to criminal offenses and convictions. In fact, approximately 33% of adult citizens in the United States have a criminal record.2

Felony convictions are for very serious convictions, while a misdemeanor is a less severe offense.

Related Reading: If charges are dismissed do you have a criminal record?

What many people may not realize is that there is a third category for law violations which are even less serious than a misdemeanor. These violations are called infractions. Infractions are those law violations which do not meet criteria for misdemeanor classification and are therefore filed as civil citations.

A person may receive a misdemeanor traffic ticket for driving under the influence (DUI) but can receive an infraction traffic ticket for failing to yield or signal properly. Because infraction offenses are much less severe, the consequences are comparably less severe.10

Infraction Crime Example: What Is an Infraction Ticket?

Infractions often take the form of a ticket, or they may be filed as a complaint.16 Some of the most common infractions that may result in a ticket are traffic violations, such as:16,19

  • Speeding
  • Running a stop sign
  • Failure to signal
  • Failure to yield
  • Improper driver documentation
  • Parking tickets

There are also many types of infractions which are non-traffic violations, such as:16

  • Possession of marijuana (less than one oz.)
  • Noise violations
  • Tailgating
  • Littering
  • Visiting a state park after hours
  • Fishing/hunting without a license
  • Walking a dog off leash

An infraction ticket is given to an individual to notify them of their offense and present them with the option of either appearing in court to contest the infraction or paying the associated fine.

A Look at Infractions Crimes and Infraction Punishment (Do Infractions Go on Your Record?)

While felony and misdemeanor charges regularly go to trial and result in jail time, probation, or other rehabilitative efforts, infraction crimes are treated in a much more lenient fashion. In most cases, infractions are written on a ticket or filed as a complaint which will result in a small to moderate fine (e.g. In the state of California, the maximum fine for an infraction is $250), no jail time, and no criminal record.16,19

An individual may be assigned community service in some instances.10

The most important thing that an individual can do after receiving an infraction ticket is to pay the fine. If the individual intends to contest the infraction, they must show up in court to plead their case in front of a judge.

Related Reading: Does a restraining order go on your record?

In most cases, if the fine is paid beforehand, the individual need not go to court. Note that if the fine remains unpaid, the person can be charged with a misdemeanor, which changes the nature of the case.10

Options after getting a traffic ticket for infractions screenshot with yellow arrow explaining the steps for pleading guilty, paying the fine and having the case closed.
Aside from paying the infraction fine, the other significant repercussion is that infraction traffic tickets do result in points against the person’s driving record which can have a cascade effect on other areas (e.g. employment, insurance).4

Is a Speeding Ticket an Infraction?

A speeding ticket is an infraction, and in fact, is one of the most common infractions. It is considered a moving traffic violation and is typically punished with a fine, as well as points against an individual’s driving record.17,19 A very extreme speeding ticket may result in a misdemeanor charge.

Do Infractions Go on Your Personal Record?

To answer the question “Do infractions go on your record?” it is necessary to first address two other questions:

  • What type of record?

Though many people may think of criminal records when they hear the phrase “on your record,” driving records are also regularly updated and often accessed for employment purposes.

  • What type of infraction?

Infractions fall under two general domains: traffic violations and non-traffic violations (discussed in an earlier section). Traffic violations are further divided into moving and non-moving violations.

Continue reading to learn which infractions may show up on a person’s record.

Do Infractions Go on Your Criminal Record?

More often than not, when people inquire “Do infractions go on your record?” or “Does a citation go on your record?” they are thinking specifically of their criminal records. Infractions are the lowest level of criminal offense, and they are filed as civil citations rather than criminal citations.

This is very good news, meaning that infractions do not appear on a person’s criminal record.5

Do Civil Infractions Go on Your Record?

An infraction is a lesser offense than a misdemeanor and does not result in criminal punishment. Thus, infractions are classified as civil citations rather than criminal and do not appear on a criminal record as long as the individual pays the fine.5

Legal Information Institute Cornell Screenshot with yellow arrows pointing to infraction definition.
The next section looks at how a person’s driving record may be impacted by infractions, or civil citations.

Do Infractions Go on Your Driving Record?

Driving records are a frequently looked at the indicator of personal behavior and integrity. For individuals wondering “Do infractions go on your record with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)?”21 the answer is: it depends.

There are different types of infractions, many of which are not traffic-related, such as walking a dog off a leash, fishing or hunting without a license, or drinking alcohol in public.16 As these offenses do not bear directly on an individual’s ability to drive responsibly, they do not appear on the person’s driving record.

Related Reading: Do traffic violations show up on criminal background check?

For traffic-related infractions, such as driving over the speed limit, running a stop sign, or failing to provide proper proof of registration and insurance, the implications are a bit different, and most traffic infractions will be recorded by the DMV and show up on an MVR report.5

Do Traffic Infractions Go on Your Record?

Traffic infractions can be further separated into two categories: moving and non-moving. Moving infractions include violations such as speeding, running a red light, and failure to yield. Non-moving infractions include violations such as expired documentation, incorrect parking, and vehicle maintenance issues.15

For individuals asking “Do speeding tickets go on your record?” or “Do parking tickets go on your record?” note that these two answers may differ.

DOT screenshot with yellow arrows pointing to negligent operator points definitions, how they are accurred and the criteria that dictates them.

Moving traffic infractions which occurred in the last three to seven years (and sometimes beyond) can absolutely appear on a person’s driving record, or MVR report.4,5 However, non-moving traffic infractions often do not appear on the driving record, because the DMV’s infraction recording policy varies across states and jurisdictions.18

Do Infractions Go on Your Record for Immigration Purposes?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)23 is the government agency which regulates immigration into the United States.12 Any person wishing to immigrate to the U.S., temporarily or permanently, is required to undergo a FBI fingerprint background check to obtain a visa or green card. These background checks will examine an individual’s criminal record extensively and will pull DMV driving records as well.

Related Reading: Do warnings go on your record?

Therefore, any traffic infractions (particularly moving violations) which appear on the MVR report will be taken into consideration for immigration purposes. Individuals completing an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)22 should be prepared to disclose moving violations, as well. Though traffic tickets resulting in misdemeanors or felonies are likely to impact immigration status, traffic infractions typically won’t.3

How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record by State?

Generally speaking, traffic infractions stay on an individual’s driving record for three to five years, but there is actually quite a bit of variation from state to state (see table below).1 Though many states use specific time periods for grades of traffic violations, the DMV point system is regularly used to attach points to a person’s record for each offense. The number of points assigned for various infractions can also vary by state.9 To view each state’s vehicle laws and code, consult the table below.8

How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Each StateLength of Time Infraction
Remains on Record
Associated Law for Each State
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Alabama?Permanently
Points removed after 2 years
Alabama Driver License Point System
Alabama Code Title 32. Motor Vehicles and Traffic
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Alaska ?1 yearVehicle and Traffic Offenses Booklet
Alaska Statutes Title 28. Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Arizona?1 yearRules of Procedure in Civil Traffic Violation Case
ARS Title 28 – Transportation
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Arkansas?3 yearsArkansas Motor Vehicle and Traffic Laws and State Highway Commission Regulations
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in California?39 monthsCalifornia Vehicle Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Colorado?Permanently
Points can be reduced
Colorado Traffic Code Title 42
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Connecticut?3 yearsConnecticut Title 14. Motor Vehicles 
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Delaware?2 yearsDelaware Title 21. Motor Vehicle Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Florida?5 yearsFlorida Title XXIII. Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Georgia?2 years2020 Georgia Code Title 40 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Hawaii?10 yearsHawaii Title 17 Motor and Other Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Idaho?3 yearsIdaho Title 49. Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Illinois?Up to 5 yearsIllinois Vehicle Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Indiana?2 yearsIndiana Title 9. Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Iowa?5 yearsIowa Title VIII – Transportation
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Kansas?3 yearsKansas Statutes Chapter 8. Automobiles and Other Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Kentucky?5 years
Points removed after 2 years
Kentucky Title XVI – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Louisiana?3 yearsLouisiana Title 32. Motor vehicles and traffic regulation
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Maine?1 yearMaine Title 29-A: Motor Vehicles and Traffic
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Maryland?3 yearsMaryland Title 21 – DOT Vehicle Laws
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Massachusetts?6 yearsMassachusetts Chapter 90 – Motor Vehicles and Aircraft
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Michigan?7 yearsMichigan Uniform Driver Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Minnesota?5 to 10 yearsMinnesota Chapter 169 – Traffic Regulations
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Mississippi?1 yearMississippi Code Title 63. Motor Vehicles & Traffic
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Missouri?3 yearsMissouri Title XIX – Motor Vehicles, Watercraft and Aviation
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Montana?Permanently
Points removed after 3 years
Montana Title 61: Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Nebraska?5 yearsNebraska Chapter 60 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Nevada?Permanently
Points removed after 1 year
Nevada Motor Vehicle Laws
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in New Hampshire?3 yearsNew Hampshire Title XXI: Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in New Jersey?5 yearsNew Jersey Title 39. Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in New Mexico?1 yearNew Mexico Motor Vehicle Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in New York?18 monthsNew York Vehicle and Traffic
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in North Carolina?3 yearsNorth Carolina Chapter 20 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in North Dakota?3 yearsNorth Dakota Title 39 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Ohio?Permanently
Points count towards license suspension for two years
Ohio Chapter 4511 – Traffic Laws
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Oklahoma?Up to 3 yearsOklahoma Title 47 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Oregon?2 yearsOregon Vehicle Code Book
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?1 yearPennsylvania Title 75 – Vehicle Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Rhode Island?3 yearsRhode Island ​​Title 31 – Motor and Other vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in South Carolina?2 yearsSouth Carolina Title 56 – Motor Vehicles 
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in South Dakota?5 yearsSouth Dakota Title 32 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Tennessee?2 yearsTennessee Title 55 – Motor and Other Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Texas?3 yearsTexas Transportation Code
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Utah?3 yearsUtah Title 41 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Vermont?2 yearsVermont Title 23 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Virginia?5 yearsVirginia Title 46.2 – Motor Vehicles.
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Washington?5 yearsWashington Title 46 – Motor Vehicles
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in West Virginia?5 years
Points removed after 2 years
West Virginia Chapter 17A
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Wisconsin?5 yearsWisconsin Chapters 345 – Vehicles – Civil and Criminal Liability 
How Long Does an Infraction Stay on Your Record in Wyoming?1 yearWyoming Title 31 – Motor Vehicles

Do Infractions Affect Insurance?

A common question asked by drivers is whether infractions affect insurance prices. The short answer is that any marks against a person’s driving record are likely to raise insurance prices. Thus, a moving traffic infraction will always result in points on a driving record, while non-moving traffic infractions usually do not. Note that this can vary some from state to state.

Do speeding tickets and parking tickets affect insurance rates screenshot with ywllow arrow pointing to the explanation of when they cause raises in rates.
Some insurers will overlook first or one-time offenses that are minor, but an accumulation of points on a driving record is almost guaranteed to raise insurance rates.13 Insurance premiums are typically impacted for three to five years, and this can vary by insurer, so rate comparisons are crucial.11 Minor traffic infractions (speeding, improper passing, etc.) can be expected to increase insurance rates by 5 to 30%.20

How Long Does a Ticket Stay on Your Record for Insurance Companies?

In most states, traffic ticket infractions stay on your record for three to five years, though the range is one year to forever.13 Even for infractions which remain on the driving record beyond the average range, many insurers are unlikely to weigh them against drivers.

Related Reading: How long does a DUI stay on your record?

More severe traffic violations which fall into the misdemeanor category (DUI, reckless driving) will affect insurance rates longer.20 Very few people have a personal history entirely free of error, and it is easy to fall prey to worry about how mistakes in the past may affect present or future prospects. For individuals wondering “Do infractions go on your record?” the good news is that these minor offenses do not go on a person’s criminal record but may appear on a driving record check.

Frequently Asked Questions About Do Infractions Go on Your Record

What Is an Infraction Ticket vs Misdemeanor (Infraction or Misdemeanor Traffic Ticket)?

An infraction ticket is incurred for criminal violations which do not meet the criteria for misdemeanor classification. Infractions do not result in criminal convictions but are listed instead as civil citations. Thus, only driving infractions are likely to show up on a background check, and that’s only if the background check pulls the MVR report.

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are filed as criminal citations and will show up in any background check which examines criminal records, if the misdemeanor occurred within the state’s lookback period.

Some examples of traffic infractions versus traffic misdemeanors include:5,16

Infractions

  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Failure to stop at a red light
  • Driving document violations
  • Failure to signal lane change

Misdemeanors

  • Driving under the influence
  • Reckless driving
  • Hit and run
  • Driving without a license

Does a Civil Traffic Violation Go on Your Record?

A civil traffic violation is synonymous with a traffic infraction, as infractions are filed as civil citations. A civil traffic violation may include offenses such as failure to wear a seat belt, parking violations, speeding tickets, or failure to yield, and these minor offenses can show up on an individual’s driving record. However, they do not show up on a criminal record.5,6

Does Your Driving Record Get Wiped Clean When You Turn 18?

Because juvenile criminal records are typically sealed when an individual reaches adulthood, many people mistakenly believe that their driving records will also be sealed. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as driving record infractions do not drop automatically when an individual turns 18.

In most states, a person’s driving record clears automatically after a specified length of time (usually three to five years) since the violation. Many states use a point system where the points drop off gradually over time.7,14

How Long Does It Take for a Speeding Ticket To Be Erased?

In most states, speeding tickets remain on a person’s driving record for three to five years. The length of time can vary depending on how much over the speed limit the individual was driving. There are some states which are exceptions and do not automatically clear driving records after a specified period of time has elapsed.

Attending driving school can sometimes help to get a ticket removed from the driving record more quickly.11


References

1Cicione, M. (2020, February 9). How Long Do Traffic Tickets Stay on Your Record? CreditDonkey. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from <https://www.creditdonkey.com/traffic-tickets-record.html>

2Clark, D. (2017, August 18). How Many U.S. Adults Have a Criminal Record? Depends on How You Define It. Politifact. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/aug/18/andrew-cuomo/yes-one-three-us-adults-have-criminal-record/>

3Gardner & Mendoza, P.C. (2022). Traffic Tickets and Immigration. Gardner & Mendoza, PC Immigration Law. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from <https://www.gardnerandmendoza.com/traffic-tickets-immigration/>

4Judicial Council of California. (2022). Traffic & Ticket Basics. California Courts. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.courts.ca.gov/8452.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en>

5Klazema, M. (2021, July 12). Will my Speeding Ticket Show up on a Background Check? Backgroundchecks.com. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.backgroundchecks.com/blog/will-my-speeding-ticket-show-up-on-a-background-check>

6The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp. (2022). Arizona Traffic Ticket and Points Assessment System. Criminal Traffic. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.azcriminaltraffic.com/arizona-traffic-ticket-and-points-assessment-system-2>

7Levy, J. (2022, February 3). When You Turn 18 Do Violations Clear Off of Your Driving Record? Jerry. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://getjerry.com/questions/when-you-turn-18-do-violations-clear-off-of-your-driving-record>

8Lockert, M. (2021, July 27). How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Record? Metromile. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.metromile.com/blog/how-long-does-a-speeding-ticket-stay-on-your-record/>

9Munyi, C. (2022, May 15). How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your REcord? The Balance. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from <https://www.thebalance.com/traffic-violations-on-insurance-record-3969098>

10The Nieves Law Firm, APC. (2022). What’s the Difference Between an Infraction, Misdemeanor, and Felony? The Nieves Law Firm. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://thenieveslawfirm.com/blog/different-types-of-charges/>

11Ochalla, B. (2022, February 14). How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Driving Record? QuoteWizard. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://quotewizard.com/auto-insurance/how-long-does-speeding-ticket-stay-on-driving-record>

12PrintScan. (2022). Background Checks for Immigrations. PrintScan. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from <https://www.printscan.com/services/background-check-immigration/>

13Progressive. (2020). How Tickets Impact Insurance. Progressive. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from <https://www.progressive.com/answers/how-tickets-impact-insurance/>

14Schad, E. (2022, February 3). Does Your Driving Record Clear When You Turn 18? Jerry. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://getjerry.com/questions/does-your-driving-record-clear-when-you-turn-18>

15Scholnick Law. (2019, January 15). Moving Vs. Non-Moving Violations. Scholnick Law. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from <https://www.scholnicklaw.com/2019/01/moving-vs-non-moving-violations/>

16Superior Court of Orange County. (2022). Infractions (Non-Traffic): General Information. The Superior Court of California | County of Orange. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.occourts.org/self-help/infraction/>

17Superior Court of Orange County. (2022). Traffic: General Information. The Superior Court of California | County of Orange. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.occourts.org/self-help/traffic/index.html>

18Voigt, R. (2022). What is a Nonmoving Traffic Violation? Do They go on Your Driving Record? Driving Laws. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from <https://www.drivinglaws.org/resources/traffic-tickets/traffic-laws/do-non-moving-traffic-violations-appear-a-driving-record>

19Wex Definitions Team. (2021, June). Infraction. Legal Information Institute [LII]. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/infraction>

20The Zebra. (2022, January 11). How 26 Common Traffic Tickets Raise the Price You Pay for Car Insurance. The Zebra. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from <https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/traffic-tickets-raise-insurance-rates/#top-violations-by-state>

21State of California. (2022). HOW CAN WE HELP YOU TODAY? Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from <https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/>

22U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2022). N-400, Application for Naturalization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from <https://www.uscis.gov/n-400>

23U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2022). What We Do. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from <https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/mission-and-core-values/what-we-do>

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