Maybe a past speeding ticket or two has slipped your mind. Or perhaps you had a fender-bender a couple of years ago. (How long ago was that accident anyway?) Or it could be that you’ve noticed your car insurance premiums or quotes are creeping up higher than you think they should. Whatever the reason, ordering a copy of your driving record or abstract can be a good idea.
Think of it in a similar way to your credit history. Your driving history starts from the day you first get behind the wheel and follows you throughout your life as a driver. Despite this, many people have no idea what their driving record looks like or what it entails.
A driver’s report or abstract is an important document that can have an impact on your insurance premium. Whether you’re shopping for auto insurance in Ontario or Alberta, it can be worthwhile to understand what this official record of your driving history shows.
Be advised when getting a copy of your driving report there are fees associated with them. And yet, according to an InsuranceHotline.com survey, a majority of drivers overwhelmingly agree accessing a driver’s record or abstract should be free. More than 90% of drivers would like barrier-free access to their records and insurance histories.
Do I need to obtain a copy of my driving record?
It’s a good idea to order a copy of your official driving history and keep it handy if you have had any accidents, speeding tickets or other concerns, but not everyone will need one. In general, there may be three reasons why you may want to obtain a copy of your driver’s record:
- You’re applying for a job, especially one that involves driving. An employer may request a copy of your driver’s abstract before they hire you. If you are applying for a position as a taxi driver, trucker, or courier driver, it is usually part of the job application process.
- You are shopping for auto insurance. If your car insurance is up for renewal or you are shopping around to compare auto rates, an insurer may request a copy of your driver’s record. If you have a copy on hand, there will be no surprises.
- You want to know what’s on your record. You may wish to check your driver’s record for any number of reasons such as ensuring a ticket or collision is removed from your record when permissible. After all, what’s on your driving record can affect your insurance premium and potential employment opportunities.
Who can see my driving history?
Other than you, and anyone you may authorize to view it, your driving record or abstract can be accessed by:
- Your insurance company. They use your driving record as a factor when determining your auto insurance rates.
- The police. To check your driving record during a traffic stop or investigation.
- Judicial services. They can access your driving record to settle court cases involving you and your vehicle.
Driving record or driver’s abstract: what’s the difference?
There are different reports you can order in either province. Each provides slightly different information but gives you verification for whatever it is you need to know.
It’s common for people to use the terms “driving record” and “driver abstract” interchangeably, but they can potentially mean different things. In Ontario, there are many specific types of driving record reports you can order, which we will detail below. In Alberta, there are fewer reports available, and these are known as driver abstracts, which include a summary of merit and demerit points, convictions and suspensions.
Examples of driving reports in Ontario
In Ontario, driving record reports are either certified or uncertified. It costs slightly more to get a certified version. What’s the difference between the two? A certified version includes an embossed seal from the Ministry of Transportation, which is usually required for legal purposes. An uncertified version contains the same information as a certified draft, but without the embossed seal. Make sure you know in advance which type you need to provide to the company that is requesting it.
As of May 2020, most reports cost $12 for the uncertified version, and $18 for a certified version. The complete driver's record, also known as the Freedom of Information driver's record, costs $48 or $54, depending on whether you want the record certified or not.
Although the ServiceOntario centre may be closed in certain areas due to COVID-19, when things do open up, you can visit one of their locations to pay for a copy by debit, cash, or certified cheque depending on which report you request. In the meantime, you can order a copy online or by mail.
Ordering a driver report in Ontario
There's a list of reports you can access in Ontario to see a copy of your driving record:
- A Three-Year Uncertified or Certified Driver's Record. This record includes your demerit points, active fines, as well as Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code of Canada convictions.
- Driver's Licence History. Your history includes class changes, licence renewals, residential addresses, and driving course completion.
- A Five-Year Uncertified or Certified Driver's Record. This record includes demerit points, driver identification info, as well as Highway Traffic Act convictions for the past three years and Criminal Code of Canada convictions for the past five years.
- Extended Driver's Record. This record includes driver identification info, as well as Highway Traffic Act convictions for the past three years and Criminal Code of Canada convictions for as far back as the records go.
- Complete Driver's Record. A complete record includes driver identification info, demerit totals, Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code of Canada convictions for as far back as the records go, as well as residential addresses, collisions, driver's licences replacements, and renewals. An auto insurance company typically requests this type of document.
You can also access reports on a specific collision, copies of your driver's documents like your licence application, a driver confirmation letter for out-of-province licensing, and a driver's licence check to demonstrate that it is valid. For most driver’s records, it takes up to two weeks to receive them after applying.
Ordering a driver’s abstract in Alberta
There are two kinds of driver abstracts you can request in Alberta for three-, five-, or 10-year periods:
- A Standard Driver Abstract. It provides information about an individual’s driving record including information about you (name, address, licence number, issue date, as well as your height, weight, and sex), the status of your licence, and any information on convictions, demerit points, and suspensions. It does not show your driving experience or when you became licensed.
- A Commercial Driver Abstract. It provides employers with information to assess risks associated with an individual before they hire them. It includes the same details as those in a standard driver abstract as well as information about Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspections. It does not give information on the driver’s appearance.
To order a driver abstract in Alberta, you will need to go through a registry agent. Normally this process is done in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, registry agents are temporarily providing select services by phone, secure email, fax or mail-in order to reduce in-person visits.
You’ll need to download and fill out a Personal Driving and Motor Vehicle Information form, get it notarized, and along with a notarized copy of your photo ID, pay a $28 fee. It takes two to three weeks after submitting your application to receive a copy of your driver’s abstract.
If you are at all concerned about your current insurance rate, start by talking with your broker. But if you’d like another tool in your arsenal before you start shopping for quotes, having your driver’s record or abstract in front of you may give you some extra information and peace of mind.