How Long Do Accidents Stay On Your Record (And Why)?

How Long Do Accidents Stay On Your Record (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 To 13 Years

Most people know the feeling of dread when one makes a mistake and realizes it will be on their record forever. Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration. Accidents stay on one’s driving record for at least 3 years before they are removed from the system. 

Driving is a great privilege that many people will take for granted. For those who have been in an accident, it can feel like they lost their privilege to drive. Each state has different rules and regulations on how long accidents stay on their record, but the average time is 3 years from the date of the collision. 

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How Long Do Accidents Stay On Your Record?

Minor Accident3 Years
Hit and Run10 years
DUI10 Years

There are too many variables to get an accurate answer quickly. Factors such as how old one was at the time of the accident, what job one has and whether it is union or not, will all factor into the longevity on their record. 

However, there’s one variable we can check so we’ll work with that: whether one paid off their insurance claim. If not then this will stay on their payroll and likely affect one’s chances of employment for 15 years after it happened. 

While one doesn’t know exactly how long these types of accidents last on someone’s records, one can say what happens when they pay off their injury claim.

Information about accident records varies by country and state. In Minnesota, the record is kept for 9 years.

The purpose of keeping such records is because, unfortunately, accidents do happen, and/or there are negligent drivers on the road who injure others without remorse. 

To ensure that callous drivers can’t just get away with an innocent life-altering event a few times in a lifetime by manipulating their driving habits in off-hours when they’ll never be caught. 

Authorities need a system in place to track them when they break the law or go too far in their negligence only at certain hours only on certain days of the year. In Minnesota for example there’s no way around it if one is convicted of reckless driving.

Why Would Accidents Stay On Your Record So Long?

It is true that accidents stay on one’s record for a long time. Normally a DUI will stay on one’s driving records for life, and a moving violation may remain there for years. The reasons are largely arbitrary – some violations have no effect on whether one is allowed to drive but it’s required by law that they’re recorded.

The reason this might be frustrating is that insurance rates tend to rise with the number of accidents or violations found on one’s driving history. In other words, if one accident or violation can cost tens of thousands extra over the course of 15 years, imagine how quickly it stacks up when more than one appears in the record.

To be clear, however, some auto insurers raise policyholders’ automobile insurance premiums after an accident, even if they are only victims. Most states give insurers the option to increase their automobile insurance rates at any time. 

Although this is the case, certain states such as Oklahoma and California have rules that ban auto insurers from increasing not-at-fault drivers’ premiums. After a no-fault accident, drivers who have a track record of at-fault accidents may see their auto insurance premiums rise.

Many states utilize a points system to monitor traffic infractions, with more points allotted to drivers who have committed more serious vehicle felonies. 

Several states have implemented a points system to regulate traffic violations, with drivers who have committed more serious vehicle felonies receiving extra points.  If one is just a vehicle accident victim, their collision might remain on their motor vehicle record.


Accidents happen. But if one gets in a car accident, it will stay on the record for 3 to 13 years. The answer to this question largely depends on the severity of the incident and the laws that govern where one lives or works. 

In some states, accidents can be expunged from one’s driving history but not all states allow for such an action. Be sure to talk with a lawyer before taking any steps towards removing accidents from the record as they may have consequences that are not easily undone. A DUI in California stays on the record for 13 years at least while in Michigan it remains for only two years.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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