Skip to main content
Your driving record can come back to haunt you

Your driving record can come back to haunt you

A question we get a lot is: how long will a traffic ticket stay on my driving record? The answer is simple: forever. Every Motor Vehicle Act infraction or Criminal Code driving offence you get is kept on a database next to your name, for life. If you got a ticket, it can come back to haunt you years or even decades from now.

While one or two marks on your driving record might not seem like a big deal, the potential consequences get exponentially worse the more tickets you rack up.

How long will a traffic ticket stay on my driving record?

In British Columbia, infractions stay on your driving record for life. Any speeding tickets, distracted driving tickets, prohibitions etc. will remain on your record. This information is available on a database to a number of bodies including the police, border agents, and Crown prosecutors.

Driving record vs. driver’s abstract

A lot of people use driving record and driver’s abstract interchangeably when, in fact, they are two different documents. Your driving record contains every infraction you have ever committed whereas your driver’s abstract is the last five years of your driving record.

Your driver’s abstract is a snapshot of your driving record. Employers can request to see your abstract. So if you have committed any recent offences you may want to prevent them from being added to your abstract if you do not want to affect your chances of finding a new job.

If the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles determines you have accumulated a high number of infractions within a two-year period or any driving-related Criminal Code convictions on your driving record, it can intervene with a prohibition. ICBC also looks at your driving history from the last two years when it calculates insurance premiums such as Driver Risk Premium.

Why your driving record is important

While your driver’s abstract lasts for five years, your entire driving record is accessible to the police and Crown prosecutors. That means if you are charged with any criminal driving offences or with driving while prohibited, the Crown can take any offence from your past into consideration, no matter how much time has lapsed.

A traffic ticket you picked up 20 years ago can come back to haunt you if you later face criminal driving charges. It can paint an unfavourable picture of you in court. Take this case, for example. The defendant pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

The court considered his record over the previous 14 years. It included multiple MVA infractions, including three 24‑hour driving prohibitions, speeding and excessive speeding convictions, one conviction for driving without due care, and one conviction for failure to obey a traffic control device.

The judge found the driver’s record of MVA violations over to be “an aggravating factor” in the offence and sentenced him to two years in jail.

How to maintain a clean record

If you pay a traffic ticket, you are effectively pleading guilty. There is very little you can do to remove a conviction from your driving record once you have pleaded or you have been found guilty. The only way to prevent it from going on your record for life is to have an acquittal entered.

If you want to prevent a ticket from coming back to haunt you, you have to challenge it. That means issuing an appeal. If you need help appealing a ticket, speak to the BC Driving Lawyers. Call us on 604-608-1200.