A lot of people ask me how long a ticket or other incident will remain on their driving record. They are concerned about the ongoing impact of the points, or the impact to their employment or insurance by having a ticket recorded on their driving record. For people working as taxi drivers, Uber/Lyft drivers, City of Vancouver public works staff, or in numerous other jobs, a clean driving record can be essential.
But this question does not necessarily have an easy answer.
There is a difference between a driving record and a driver’s abstract. It is important to understand the two documents and the use to which they can be put when answering this question.
Your driving record is forever
ICBC maintains a database of every ticket you ever received. If you got a ticket back in 1987 for speeding while outside Revelstoke, ICBC has a record of it. And it appears on your driving record. Every single ticket, driving prohibition, and driving-related infraction that you have received will be registered on your driving record.
The only way to have it removed is to have an acquittal entered.
If you receive a pardon for a criminal conviction for impaired driving, dangerous driving, or any other offence related to driving, the conviction remains on your driving record. If you are granted a conditional or absolute discharge in court for a driving-related offence, the conviction is nevertheless registered on your driving record.
If you are charged with a criminal offence related to driving, or with driving while prohibited, your entire driving history will be available to Crown prosecutors and is often included as part of the disclosure package. If you are driving through the border, or pulled over by police, the entire driving record is accessible on CPIC to police and border services agents.
Your driver’s abstract is a snapshot of your driving record
Your driver’s abstract is a five-year history of your driving record. The abstract is what you will receive when you ask ICBC to provide a copy of your driving record. It is not your full driving record. Rather, it is a record of the convictions, prohibitions, and offences that have been recorded in the last five years.
When people are concerned about increases to their insurance rates, the five-year abstract is what is considered. Decisions made by ICBC about driving prohibitions are based on the five-year abstract, as are decisions to issue 7-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions or 30-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions. Similarly, if a police officer is considering whether to pursue a criminal investigation or elect to issue an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, the abstract is what guides their decision-making.
For most people, when employers request a driving record, they are referring to the abstract. Calculation of penalty point premiums or Driver Risk Premiums is done in an even shorter time frame than the driver’s abstract depicts.
So if you are worried about a ticket or prohibition on your record, you should ask yourself what purpose you are needing that abstract. If it is for work or volunteering, five years should cover you. If it is for the purpose of a criminal charge or driving while prohibited charge, your driving record will continue to plague you.