4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Driving Record in Washington

High-Risk Auto Insurance
April 29, 2021
Two police vehicles stop a sedan on a routine traffic stop

If your driving record’s lackluster, and you’re looking for easy ways to improve your driving record in Washington state, we’ve got four suggestions that can help you get there.

Before we get into that, let’s look at why a poor driving record brings hefty consequences that impact your wallet.

One crash is all it takes to make your insurance rate go up. Being involved in two or more can make what you pay for coverage skyrocket. So can any citations, convictions, and violations, which all wind up on your driving record, with most of them remaining there for at least five years.

Insurance companies track your record to determine your coverage rate. The more traffic issues that appear on your driving record, the higher your rate will get. Why? Because many of these insurance companies will consider a high risk on the road.

To bring that coverage rate down, you need to prove that you’re a good driver, and you have at least five years to do that — since that’s the amount of time it takes for most traffic issues to remain on your record.

If you’re a high-risk driver looking for a chance to get back on the road with a clean slate, here are four easy ways to improve your driving record in Washington.

1. Check Your Record with the Washington State Department of Licensing

If you’re looking to improve your driving record in Washington, the first thing you want to do is check your current driving record with the Washington State Department of Licensing. This document lists all of the collisions you’ve been involved in, as well as all violations, citations, convictions, departmental actions, and license suspensions on your record. The state agency allows you to purchase a copy of your driving record online or by standard mail for a $13 fee.

In Washington, as in other states, the amount of time a specific incident stays on your record varies by severity. Collisions you were involved in while driving a non-commercial vehicle, certain convictions and violations, departmental actions such as suspensions, revocations, and disqualifications, for example, remain on your driving record for five years. If the collision happened while you were behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, it would stay on your record for 10 years, and so will any failure to appear or respond to a traffic citation or a notice of infraction. Alcohol-related convictions that involve vehicular assault or vehicular homicide will remain on your record for life, and so will deferred prosecutions.

Suppose you have questions about your driving record. In that case, especially after you review it, you can reach out to the Washington State Department of Licensing by calling (360) 902-3900 (TTY: call 711) to speak with an official who can give you the answers you need and address your concerns.

If you call the state agency, make sure to ask how you can get rid of any errors, points, or tickets from your driving record and whether they can expunge any convictions. If so, follow up by asking what documentation you’ll have to provide to do that.

2. Take Care of All Outstanding “Fix-It” Tickets and Citations Immediately

A ticket you can take immediate, corrective action on to resolve is known as a “fix-it” ticket. A few examples include:

  • Car registration violations, like driving with an expired car registration
  • Driver’s license violations, like driving without your license because you forgot your wallet at home
  • Car equipment violations, like driving with a broken turn signal
  • Insurance violations, like not having your insurance card with you if you’re stopped by the police and asked to provide proof of coverage

In these cases, all you need to show a court or the Washington State Department of Licensing is proof of correction, letting authorities know you resolved the issue.

For example, in King County District Court, you have 15 days to contest a traffic ticket or citation. If the violation involved any of the infractions we noted, your best bet is to respond and resolve the matter quickly. Lapsing on this will result in additional fines and penalties. The Washington State Department of Licensing will also add your failure to appear or respond to your driving record, where it will remain listed for 10 years.

3. To Improve Your Driving Record in Washington, Enroll in a Driver Safety Course

seattle skyline with freeway with cars with driver records

Enrolling in a driver safety course is typically among the top easy ways to improve your driving record in Washington, as well as any other state. Taking a driver safety course not only helps remove points from your driver’s license but it’s also a great way to bring down your insurance rate, especially if insurance companies consider you a high-risk driver.

If enrolling in a driver safety course sounds like a good option for you, you might want to consider AAA’s Washington Online Defensive Driving Course. Like most driver safety courses, this one refreshes your knowledge of safe driving practices and reviews today’s traffic laws. It’ll also teach you critical skills that will help you behind the wheel, like preparing your vehicle for optimum visibility, driving defensively, and reacting to potentially dangerous traffic situations.

You complete AAA’s online at your own pace from wherever’s most convenient for you. The enrollment fee ranges between $35.95 and $49.95, depending on whether you’re a AAA member and whether you’re taking the course on account of a traffic citation or not.

4. Make Driving Safely Your Top Priority

From the day you crash, get ticketed for running a red light, or receive a citation for any other traffic violation, you’ve got at least five years to work toward clearing up your driving record, proving to your insurance company and the Washington State Department of Licensing that you’re a safe driver.

So, start walking the talk and make driving safely your top priority. If you’re smartphone rings or text message makes it ding while you’re driving along, ignore it and keep both hands on the wheel — your eyes locked on the road ahead of you. If you need to make a lane change, don’t cut another driver off. Wait for him to pass and then, when it’s safe, move into the other lane.

When You’re Looking for Ways to Improve Your Driving Record in Washington, Start by Making Sure You Always Driving Safely

When you’re in a hurry and traffic’s a mess, it’s easy to lapse on good driving habits. But remember, you’re trying to clean up your driving record, and that’s going to take a little work. Getting the best information from a reliable source like Vern Fonk will also be helpful. They are ready to answer any questions you might have. And remember, a little patience when you’re behind the wheel can go a long way.