What are Minnesota Public Traffic Records?
Minnesota public traffic records are documents that contain an individual's driving and traffic history (particularly an individual who either resides or is licensed to drive in the state). Typically, these records include the number of points on a driver's license, license restrictions, collisions, and traffic violations. In addition, the records carry a driver's identifying information, including their age, gender, date of birth, and physical descriptors (eye and hair color, height, weight).
The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) and courts generate, maintain, and provide traffic records for public use in the state. These records have several uses. For example, insurance firms may review three- or five-year records when calculating auto insurance premiums; individuals with clean traffic histories usually receive reduced rates. Employers may also utilize traffic records to evaluate a job candidate.
Are Traffic Records Public in Minnesota?
Yes, traffic records are open to the public in Minnesota. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act authorizes the inspection and copying of records in the physical custody of Minnesota state agencies, including traffic records.
However, certain information within a traffic record is restricted from public access under Minn. Stat. § 171.12, Subd. 7 and the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This includes a driver's name, date of birth, and residential address. Such information is typically only released to probation and parole agencies, law enforcement agencies, child support enforcement, and entities with the record subject's written consent.
What do Minnesota Traffic Records Contain?
A Minnesota traffic record contains the following data about a licensed motorist:
- Traffic violations and convictions
- Driver's license status, number, and renewals
- Traffic accidents
- Driver's license suspensions and revocations
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Minnesota?
Yes, citations can appear on people's Minnesota driving records. However, certain citations can be removed after some time, while others stay on record permanently. For example, administrative citations can stay up to five years, and citations for petty misdemeanors can stay up to 10 years. Meanwhile, criminal traffic citations (e.g., DUIs) can remain on an individual's record for life.
Types of Traffic Citations in Minnesota
In Minnesota, there are three types of traffic citations that individuals can receive from law enforcement:
- Citations for petty misdemeanors: In Minnesota, a petty misdemeanor is not considered a criminal offense nor an offense that requires a court appearance. As such, anyone cited for an offense can quickly resolve it by paying a fine. According to Minn. Stat. § 609.02, the fine imposed for a petty misdemeanor does not exceed $300. Examples of petty misdemeanors include speeding, running a red light, parking in a restricted area, failure to signal a turn, driving with unsafe equipment like a faulty brake light.
- Criminal citations: These citations are issued for criminal traffic offenses. Typically, a criminal citation is punishable by a fine of up to $1000, up to 90 days imprisonment, or both, for offenses like careless driving (no injury or accident) and failure to show proof of auto insurance. However, when a criminal offense involves an intention to harm lives or properties, the offender will be required to appear in court, where their punishment will be decided.
- Administrative citations: These are civil fines issued for non-criminal traffic offenses that violate a local (city) ordinance. Examples of offenses under this category include violating the speed limit for an area, failing to stop at designated signs, and operating a motor vehicle in disregard of specific equipment standards.
Minnesota Traffic Citation Lookup
Anyone interested in looking up a traffic citation or ticket in Minnesota can visit the presiding court during business hours. This court should be located in the same county where a driver received a citation or ticket. The search engine on the Minnesota judiciary's Find Your Court page can help retrieve a court's contact information and address.
However, a faster way to find a citation issued in Minnesota is to search the state courts' web payment system (see the courts' help page for more information). The citation number associated with a ticket will be needed to obtain results from the system.
How to Lookup my Minnesota Traffic Records
The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) provides two types of traffic records (also called driving records) to registered motorists:
- Certified driving records, which show a driver's entire traffic history.
- Non-certified driving records, which show a driver's most recent 5-year traffic history.
To order either, a record holder must send a request to the DVS by mail or in person. The appropriate form, titled the DVS Record Request Form (or Form PS2502), can be completed and taken to a nearby DPS office or mailed to the following address:
Driver and Vehicle Services
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 190
Saint Paul, MN 55101-5161
The fee of a Minnesota traffic record varies based on the kind of record:
- $10 for a personal certified driving record
- $9 for a personal non-certified driving record
- $10.50 for another driver's certified driving record
- $10 for another driver's non-certified driving record.
However, interested parties should note that a $1 fee for printing services applies, and every DVS office has its payment method for in-person requests. Therefore, contacting a DVS office before visiting is advised. If requesting a record by mail, an individual can only pay with a check or money order addressed to the "Driver & Vehicle Services."
Minnesota traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record
Minnesota Traffic Violations
A traffic violation in Minnesota is any act committed by a driver against the state's traffic laws. These violations can range from minor infractions, like speeding, to more serious offenses, like DUI.
Some of the most common traffic violations in Minnesota include:
- Speeding: Speeding is one of Minnesota's most commonly committed traffic violations. Drivers can be fined for driving over the posted speed limit, and if they are caught going 20 mph or more over the limit, they may face additional penalties.
- Reckless Driving: Reckless driving is another common traffic violation in Minnesota. This offense can be charged if a driver is driving in a way that endangers other people or property.
- Running a Red Light: Running a red light is a traffic violation that can result in a fine and points on their license.
- Failure to Yield: Failure to yield is a traffic violation that can occur when a driver does not yield the right of way to another vehicle or pedestrian.
Minnesota License Plate Lookup
License plates aid law enforcement officers in identifying and tracking vehicles involved in crimes or other incidents. Interested persons may conduct Minnesota license plate lookups online to find information about the vehicle owner or driver. To look up a license plate in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website. Enter the license plate number into the search box. You will be able to view information about the vehicle owner, including their name and address. In addition, users may also view the driver's history, if available.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Minnesota
In Minnesota, the district courts keep traffic case records. Hence, people interested in viewing such records for free can visit the district court in the county where a driver was ticketed. At the courthouse, a party can request to inspect records on file from the court clerk. Also, they can use computers provided in the court library to view traffic cases at no cost.
Besides visiting the courthouse, members of the public can view traffic records for free online through the Minnesota Trial Court Public Access (MPA) website. To begin the search, an individual must select the location where a driver was ticketed, then click on Criminal/Traffic/Petty Case Records. On the next page, the party can use one of four different search options: case search, defendant search, citation search, or attorney search, to obtain results.
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Minnesota
According to Minn. Stat. § 171.12, subd. 3, records of a driver's suspensions, cancellations, revocations, accidents, and convictions must be kept on record for at least five years. Also, records pertaining to violations of vehicle or driver out-of-service orders must be kept for at least ten years.
Lastly, the following records are retained permanently:
- Record of alcohol-related offenses listed in Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 20. For example, a prior impaired driving conviction such as a DUI, criminal vehicular homicide and injury, and alcohol-related school or Head Start bus driving.
- Prior impaired driving-related offenses that led to the loss of a driver's license (i.e., a suspension, revocation, cancellation, denial, or disqualification). For example, a DUI. A list of other offenses can be found in Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 21.
- Felony convictions involving the use of a motor vehicle.
- Violations listed in Minn. Stat. § 169.09 (hit and run), 169A.31 (alcohol-related Head Start or school bus driving), and 171.24, subd 5 (gross misdemeanors).
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Minnesota
To remove a traffic record from public websites in Minnesota, a driver can complete and submit the Private Data Request Form (Form PS33202) in-person at a nearby DMV office or mail it to Driver and Vehicle Services. However, this request only removes a driver's name and residential address from a record.
A driver may also petition the court to expunge (seal) their record, provided it pertains to a criminal traffic offense. If the court grants the order, the record will be protected from public disclosure. Subsequently, any public website displaying the record will be mandated to take down the record and seize public dissemination.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Minnesota?
Yes, motoring/traffic offenses affect criminal records in Minnesota. However, for this to happen, an offense must be categorized as criminal under the law, i.e., an offense with an element of aggression and the intention to cause harm to life and properties. Typically, when a motoring offense appears on one's criminal record, it may remain there indefinitely unless the subject of the record meets the legal criteria for criminal expungement.