Any individual who has been charged with a serious driving offense or who has unaddressed traffic violations might be wondering, do traffic warrants appear on background checks?
The answer to this question is both yes… and no, because it depends on the situation and location.
The level of the offense and the state where it was committed play a huge role in whether or not something shows up on a criminal record (which is mostly used for background checks).
Fortunately, it’s extremely simple to find out if a traffic warrant will show up on a background check. Simply learn how to do a background check on yourself using a free tool that will search public records instantly.
The following guide explains traffic warrants, including when they are issued, what they entail, and when they show up on background checks.
Will a Traffic Warrant Show Up on Background Check? (Does a Traffic Warrant Show on a Background Check?)
Many people have wondered what shows up on a background check and more specifically do traffic warrants appear on background checks. Before diving into the topic of traffic warrants and background checks, take a closer look at traffic warrants specifically.
A traffic warrant is a court order for an individual’s arrest which is issued after failing to pay a fine or appear in court.3 With minor traffic violations, such as low-level speeding or running a red light, the citation can often be taken care of by paying a fine online or by phone unless the individual chooses to contest the citation in court.5
More serious traffic violations such as reckless driving or driving under the influence (DUI) are considered criminal offenses in most states and will result in a court summons. Failure to answer the court summons results in a warrant. To recapitulate, a traffic warrant:
- Is an order for someone’s arrest,
- Often results from failure to pay a traffic fine or answer a court summons,
- Can often be avoided by paying the traffic fine or resolving the issue.
For anyone who has wondered “Do traffic warrants appear on background checks?” the answer is not a simple yes or no, but rather, both yes and no. Traffic warrants sometimes show up on background checks, and this depends primarily on the following factors:
- Where the warrant was issued?
- What type of traffic violation the warrant is associated with?
- What type of background check is being conducted?
- Whether the warrant has been resolved
States have varying laws and methods for issuing and recording warrant information. Although a warrant should not technically be part of a person’s criminal record, as it is not definitive proof of guilt, some states may choose to report it as such. In most states, traffic warrants will only appear on an individual’s driving record.
The type of traffic violation associated with the warrant is a crucial factor, as criminal offenses, such as reckless driving, hit and run, and driving under the influence are considered misdemeanors in most states (New Jersey classifies DUIs as infractions, not misdemeanors. See New Jersey Laws and Penalties Driving While Intoxicated).16
Thus, these misdemeanor crimes appear on an individual’s criminal record, and an associated warrant may as well. For non-criminal traffic infractions, the warrant is typically issued for non-payment of fines or tickets and will generally be documented on the individual’s MVR report, held at the local DMV. In summary, different types of traffic warrants can show up on a background check in various ways.
There are many types of background checks, and they are not all created equal. A high-level background check such as one conducted for security purposes or one ordered by a government agency is much more likely to uncover traffic warrant information than a basic criminal background screening. The most comprehensive background check may also include a wants and warrants search which examines court records for warrant information.12
Finally, whether or not the warrant has been addressed is another factor, as unresolved warrants are more likely to show up on background checks. In the case of minor traffic violations and infractions, a warrant can often be dismissed when an individual pays the relevant fines or appears in court. Longer standing warrants are more difficult to resolve.7
Do Traffic Violations Show Up on Criminal Background Checks? (Do Traffic Warrants Appear on Background Checks?)
To answer the question “do traffic violations show up on criminal background check reports,” take a look at the types of traffic violations that are considered criminal offenses. Most criminal traffic offenses are considered misdemeanors, but very serious or repeat offenses may be classified as felonies. Most states categorize the following as criminal driving violations:10
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Driving with a suspended license
- Reckless driving
- Hit and run
- Vehicular manslaughter (often classified as a felony)
- Repeat offender (can be escalated to a felony in cases of repeat DUI)
If found guilty of these offenses, they will absolutely appear on the individual’s criminal record, and though unlikely, the associated warrant might as well.
Minor traffic violations, such as speeding or failing to stop at a stop sign are not considered criminal (for first offenses) and can often be resolved through remedial action (driving school, fine payment, community service). These types of violations do not appear on a criminal background check.7
Will a Traffic Warrant Show Up on a Pre-Employment Background Check?
Employment is one of the most common reasons why background checks are conducted, so it’s reasonable for individuals applying for jobs to wonder “Do traffic warrants appear on background checks for employment?”
The answer to this question depends largely on what type of job position an individual is seeking. Most standard pre-employment background checks will examine a job candidate’s criminal history record to ensure that the people hired are trustworthy, responsible, and honest. Thus, standard background checks will only show criminal traffic violations (see section above) and possibly, the associated traffic warrant, depending on the state’s law.10
Do Traffic Warrants Appear on Background Checks If Only Minor?
What if the traffic warrant is minor and not associated with a criminal traffic violation (such as citations for speeding or not wearing a seat belt)? In this case, there are still some ways that the traffic warrant can show up on the pre-employment background check. If the job position requires regular driving or operation of dangerous equipment or machinery, the employer may also examine the candidate’s driving record which documents all traffic offenses.1,2
When the job in question is a higher-level position – such as a government job or security job – a more extensive background check is usually conducted which is more likely to reveal warrant information than the standard pre-employment screening. In these instances, a dedicated warrant search might also be ordered.
Do You Have To Report Speeding Tickets on Job Applications?
Speeding tickets are considered minor traffic violations in almost all cases and therefore do not need to be disclosed on most job applications. However, if the job of interest involves regular driving or operating machinery, know that the employer is likely to run a DMV check for an MVR report. The DMV records will reveal any speeding tickets or traffic warrants.
The individual should ensure that any outstanding tickets and fines are resolved. It may be advisable to be forthright and disclose traffic violations prior to the DMV record check, particularly if the violations are recent or recurring.2
Continue reading to learn how to do a local DMV record look-up or request an MVR report and background check through a trusted screening service now.
Will a Traffic Warrant Affect Employment?
Whether a traffic warrant affects employment depends on a few factors:2
- The nature of the warrant and severity of the traffic violation,
- The recency of the offense,
- The number of offenses,
- Whether the warrant is outstanding,
- The nature of the job,
- Whether the employment is current or prospective
Often, traffic warrants are associated with minor traffic violations such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign, and the warrant is issued due to failure to pay the associated fine or show up in court. Sometimes, a traffic warrant is associated with a more serious traffic violation which may be considered a criminal offense (DUI, reckless driving, etc.) Traffic warrants for criminal violations are much more likely to impact employment than minor traffic infractions.2 The next section explores in detail the types of criminal traffic violations which reflect the most negatively on an individual’s driving record.
The recency of the traffic violation and the traffic warrant are also complicating factors. A recently issued traffic warrant and recent offenses may be weighed more heavily against a job candidate or employee than a traffic warrant in the distant past. Caveat: A traffic warrant from the past which has yet to be resolved can reflect rather poorly on a job applicant, so ensure that fines and tickets are addressed!2
Did an individual commit a single driving violation and subsequently forget to pay the associated ticket, or has the individual exhibited a pattern of poor driving behavior or decisions resulting in the traffic warrant? These two scenarios can look very different to a prospective employer as the former is more likely to reflect an oversight while the latter may evidence a personality or behavior style that is undesirable for an employee.2
In general, traffic warrants which have been addressed and resolved will not affect employment to the same extent that outstanding warrants do. Although a resolved warrant still appears on an MVR report, the status of the warrant should be clear to anyone examining the DMV record. The fact that the warrant was addressed demonstrates an individual’s ability to recognize and confront problematic issues.7
The nature of the job in question is one of the most significant factors under consideration, as some jobs require employees to operate dangerous machinery, drive company vehicles, drive under company insurance, or convey passengers or property. Employers in these scenarios are likely to scrutinize a prospective employee’s driving record more closely.
For current employment in these positions, an annual DMV record check may be conducted to ensure safe driving practices.2
Prospective employers who do not know job candidates personally must rely on references, background check information, and other sources to vet potential hires. Thus, a traffic warrant is more likely to affect future employment than current employment.
The exception to this is if an individual is currently employed in a position of authority or influence (e.g. government, law enforcement) or operates motor vehicles for work. In these situations, periodic background checks and DMV record checks can be expected.
What Crimes Are Considered a Bad Driving Record for Employment?
While a traffic warrant in and of itself is not great news for employment, in cases of minor traffic infractions, the warrant can often be resolved outside of court or jail. However, there are warrants which result from criminal traffic offenses and must be settled in court. These are generally the violations that reflect most negatively upon an individual’s driving record.
Likely the most commonly seen of these are driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving.1 Either can result in a bad driving record for a job candidate, and a pattern of this type of driving offense can prevent someone from landing the desired job. Some other examples include hit-and-run accidents and driving with a suspended or revoked license. These are considered serious driving and criminal offenses.14
Do Employers Check Your DMV Record?
Employers can check prospective employees’ DMV records, and this is most often seen with job positions requiring driving, operating dangerous equipment, or transporting goods and passengers.1 Employer will likely request an individual’s MVR report from the DMV to ensure that the candidate is a responsible driver.2
To find out what is on a DMV driving record, visit the website of the local DMV (Department/Division of Motor Vehicles) to search for traffic warrants and request a copy of driving records, or order a background check from a trusted provider today.2
The following table includes the links to each state’s DMV or relevant agency website.
Step-By-Step Traffic Warrant Lookup
There are many reasons why an individual may want access to their driving history records, and traffic warrant information is one of those reasons. Some states provide online access to driving records and other states require an individual to submit an official request for records. Note that driving record requests often have an associated fee.2
To do a traffic warrant lookup, follow these steps:
1. Use the Table Above to Navigate to the Relevant State’s DMV Website
The Rhode Island (RI) link routes to the State of Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.18
For Rhode Island DMV, Online Services is listed on the top menu, to the right.
3. Browse the Web Page for Driver Record Information
The link to the Rhode Island DMV Licensed Driver Records is in the middle of the page.17
4. Follow Instructions for Online Record Lookup When Available
On RI’s Driver Record Page, click the “Continue” button under the “Citizens” heading to make a one-time request.
5. Identify the Required Personal Information and Begin
To access RI driving records online, an individual must provide the last name, date of birth, zip code, and driver’s license number. Note that there is also a $20.50 driving record fee in the state of Rhode Island.
Every state’s DMV website is unique, and some are easier to navigate than others. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles even has a video tutorial on how to view and order a driving record online.8,15
Can You Pass a Background Check With a Traffic Warrant?
Many people have asked, “Can you pass a background check with a warrant?” and the most consistent answer available is that it depends on what the warrant is for and what the policies of the hiring company state. In the case of traffic warrants, it depends on whether there was a criminal traffic violation or a minor infraction and how the warrant was dealt with. The ability to pass a background check with a traffic warrant also depends largely on what the hiring company is looking for.
Yes, it is possible to pass a background check with a traffic warrant, but it is not completely guaranteed.
Most people will receive a traffic ticket at some point in their lives, and a ticket can accidentally go unresolved, resulting in a traffic warrant. In order to answer, do traffic warrants appear on background checks, just run a check on yourself right now.
Frequently Asked Questions About Do Traffic Warrants Appear on Background Checks