does speeding ticket show up on background check

Many people wonder do traffic violations show up on criminal background check results? The answer depends on a number of factors that are determined at the state level.

If a person has racked up multiple speeding tickets or traffic violations and is concerned that the tickets will show up on a background check, the most important thing to understand is the difference between criminal and civil convictions. And, to know how to run a criminal background check, that way users can search their own records for any citations and charges.

This one distinction (the difference between civil citations and pending criminal charges) impacts what the background check will show, and whether or not it can impact future employment possibilities.

Will My Speeding Ticket Show Up on a Background Check?

Do traffic violations show up on criminal background check reports? In short, the answer is yes — and no. With speeding tickets, the answer depends on how fast and how dangerous the incident, and how the police report is written.

Most traffic violations are not criminal citations, meaning they will likely not appear on a search. However, criminal citations are likely to show up on a background check showing arrests (which is all background checks).

Traffic violations either show up as a criminal citation or civil conviction.1

When someone is applying for an open job position, it can help to know exactly what will appear on criminal history reports.

After all, speeding tickets can happen to anyone. With red-light cameras and hidden speed cameras positioned in nearby neighborhoods, small streets, and highways, more and more people get speeding tickets online or through the mail. Sometimes, people may even get tickets without knowing they did, leading to multiple tickets in a very short period.

So, understanding the difference between criminal traffic violations (even arrests without convictions) and regular traffic violations is key to seeing what will show up on a check.

Criminal Citations Will Appear on Background Checks

A criminal traffic citation will show up on a background check as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the violation and the recurring nature (like if a warrant is issued).

Some violations while driving a vehicle include repeating offenses, driving under the influence, driving without a license, leaving an accident, reckless or dangerous driving, or vehicular homicide or manslaughter.

Since criminal citations and driving records can appear to a potential employer (such as a pending court case), it’s crucial to know what is on the record, how to defend it, and how to explain the situation to a possible future boss.

Employers can find these offenses by doing a driving record screening (MVR report). This record shows the traffic citations, dates of the citations, and the outcomes (verdict, fines paid, jail time, etc.), which can impact driving-centric jobs.

Traffic Violations Will Probably Not Appear

The good news is, traffic violations are less likely to show up on a background check than serious offenses. There are three reasons that violations will be less likely to show up on a background check than you would find with misdemeanors or felonies:

  • Reporting time frame — The first reason why a violation may not show up as often as a misdemeanor or felony is due to the reporting limits. Some states have restrictions regarding how long a violation can appear on a person’s background check, such as Hawaii.
  • Type of check — A violation may not show up on a background check due to the type of background check conducted by an employer (it may be less comprehensive).
  • Expunged record — Violations may not show on a person’s background check if their records have been dropped, expunged or sealed by the court.

Most traffic violations are considered a very minor “crime.” Since this crime does not involve endangering anyone else and was not committed with the intent of hurting someone else, it is less likely to appear on a criminal record.

What’s a Criminal Traffic Violation?

Understanding the differences between a civil and criminal traffic violation is essential to seeing what may appear on a background check.

Criminal Traffic Violation

A criminal traffic violation is a more serious offense than a common traffic violation. If a person is charged with a speeding ticket or offense for a civil infraction, this is less severe than criminal traffic citations. 2

Some of the most common criminal traffic citations include driving under the influence, reckless driving, and vehicular manslaughter. In any of these instances, it is considered a criminal traffic violation and although some can result in probation, others can be classified as felonies and involve an immediate arrest and jail time.

The way in which these offenses are charged and recorded on a criminal history will depend on numerous reasons. Since an employer can run a driving history background check, this will include everything from minor offenses to serious crimes. However, in all cases, a criminal traffic violation will appear on the background check.

A criminal violation on a permanent record will depend on the severity of the offense and the number of occurrences. If a driver is a repeat offender, there is a higher likelihood of their criminal traffic violation appearing on a background check. 3

Civil Traffic Violation

A civil traffic violation is a driving infraction that includes both moving and non-moving violations that do not abide by the driving laws.4 Although these offenses do not endanger anyone in any way or have malicious intent, they can still cause unsafe driving scenarios.

Some examples of civil traffic violations include failing to slow down and yield at a yield sign, not stopping at a stop sign, not wearing a seat belt, parking in a Handicapped spot, running a red light, and many others. 5

Do Traffic Violations Show Up On A Criminal Background Check in My State?

The following table provides links to every state’s traffic laws to ensure individuals obey the speed limit, drive on the right side of the road, and avoid traffic citations. 6


Do Traffic Tickets Count as Criminal Convictions?

Different instances on the road will count for either a criminal traffic violation or a civil conviction.

A criminal traffic violation involves police charging an individual with a crime, whereas a civil traffic ticket is typically a monetary fine.

The following table provides an overview of the most common traffic violations and whether they will show up on a background check.

Traffic Violation Criminal Conviction Civil Conviction Will It Show Up on a Background Check?
Drinking & Driving Violations Yes No Yes
Driving On The Right Side No No No
Driving Without a License/Suspended License 8 Yes – Depends on the state and circumstances Yes Yes
Driving Without Insurance / Insufficient Insurance Yes – varies based on state laws Yes Yes
Driving Without Registration / Expired Registration No Yes No
Illegal U-Turn No Yes No
Running a Red Light/Stop Sign No – only if the driver hits someone or another vehicle maliciously Yes No
Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Hit & Run Yes No Yes
Mechanical Violations (broken lights) No Yes No
Move Over Law Yes No Yes
Reckless Driving Yes No Yes
Seat Belt / Child Restraint Violations No Yes No
Speeding No Yes No
Speeding 15 MPH over Limit 9 Yes No No
Unlawful Vehicle Modifications Depends on the state No No
Illegal Parking No (except for disabled drivers) Yes No
Street Racing No – except if injury occurs Yes Yes
Vehicular Homicide Yes No Yes

Understanding the answer to  “do traffic violations show up on background check results,” can help job seekers know how to address any instances that may cause a failed background check after a job offer.

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