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Do police have a more extensive driving/traffic file on me than I can obtain from the DMV?

I just called the DMV headquarters in Oregon, my state of residence. After I answered two simple security questions, the agent pulled up my driving record and said there was nothing on it.

In actuality, over the past ten years I have received three moving violations, one parking ticket, and have been pulled over at least a half-dozen other times. Two of the moving violations are not supposed to be on it since I attended traffic school both times. The third moving violation was three weeks ago.

I told the agent all that, but the agent insisted that my driving record is 'squeaky clean'. Do police (or the state) have all these occurrences in some database? If so, what is it called? How can I request a copy of it?

I'm asking for two one reason. I'm thinking of pleading not-guilty to the recent ticket, and requesting a trial by affidavit. Second, my friend just added me to her insurance, at which time the insurance agent said I had two items on my record (EDIT: I've since found out that the two items are claims for vandalism on my car, not law infractions).

  • 2
    This doesn't sound like a requested record, more like what the agent is allowed to see and convey by phone, for obvious security and privacy reasons. – Nij Sep 1 '17 at 22:58
  • "After I answered two simple security questions" – Dave Sep 1 '17 at 23:03
  • Yes, two simple questions that a great number of people who have never met you and live in a different continent may well be able to find the answers for. – Nij Sep 1 '17 at 23:04
  • Sounds like you dialed the wrong number and my neighbor got you with a prank! – Ebenezer Ivanhoe Sep 1 '17 at 23:06
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To be very straightforward, yes, a police department would very likely have records of their past interactions with you in the form of police reports. They cannot just throw them away because it's been scrubbed from your public record. They detail the interactions the police officer had with you.

That being said, those records would not show up in a general inquiry into your record, because those records are meant to protect the officer and the department as a reference point they can go back to in case some dispute arose in the future. If a police officer really wanted to find them, they'd have to do a bit of digging for them. The difficulty in finding them would depend on what system the particular police department uses to store those records. Smaller departments may just file them in a cabinet somewhere, whereas larger ones may actually have their own searchable database. But a traffic cop out on the street is only gonna see what you're seeing at the DMV - nothing.

There is also a formal NCIC database, but traffic violations would never end up in there. That is a national database that basically stores red flag persons of interest (think stolen vehicles, sex offenders, and gang members). Sometimes multiple departments within a state will share their information with each other, but a department's database is usually kept to that department only.

Also keep in mind court records. The court case that had a violation removed under such and such conditions is still gonna be a public record. Those records would generally be available to a judge overseeing your case so if you repeatedly end up in court for the same thing, they're gonna know and they're gonna stop scrubbing it from your record or offerring certain options because you're clearly not learning your lesson. Many laws allow you to have one offense stricken per year and similar stuff like that, but that kind of stuff doesn't just permanently disappear. They have to keep record of it in order to know you've already had your once per year etc.

Also a note about parking violations: not all of those are actually issued by police. If it was issued by a private firm then that is not something that would ever show up on your record. It would just be in a database somewhere with whatever private firm issued the fine. Those kind of tickets get sent to collections and hurt your credit score if you don't pay them, rather than affecting your driving record.

  • As far as I know, records are never actually destroyed, they are made "generally invisible": but there are statutory exceptions where e.g. supposedly expunged arrest records are available to federal security investigators. – user6726 Sep 2 '17 at 17:20
  • But the Eugene police department (for example) would not have access to records of a traffic stop by the Portland police department (for example). – phoog Sep 3 '17 at 12:34
  • Critically, none of the moving violations are convictions for traffic offenses. The traffic school cases were probably deferred judgments where the charges are dismissed before conviction if you comply. The pending case hasn't yet produced a conviction. Often state insurance regulation prohibits considering traffic history other that convictions and accidents so that wrongfully accused persons aren't penalized. Parking offenses are usually civil rather than criminal or traffic offenses, even if enforced by a local government. – ohwilleke Nov 2 '17 at 1:44

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