Tennessee Driving Record & MVR Checks

Kate Rhodes
March 25, 2024
6 min read

Tennessee employers often rely on motor vehicle reports (MVRs) to help evaluate job candidates during the hiring process. An MVR can provide information about a candidate’s driving history and is often considered vital for jobs that require employees to be on the road or operate machinery. For some positions, a driving record check is required to maintain compliance with industry regulations.

Performing an MVR check can help employers assess if a candidate is qualified to operate a vehicle or machinery, reduce risk, and comply with federal, state, and local laws. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to know before running a driving record background check in Tennessee.

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What is a Tennessee MVR?

A Tennessee motor vehicle record is an official document that shows an individual’s driving history, including suspensions, citations, and violations. The Driver Services division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security maintains these records and provides them to authorized parties upon request. This report will only show the driving record associated with a Tennessee driver’s license. If a person has held licenses in another state, employers may wish to order additional records from that jurisdiction to see their full driving history.

An employer may choose to order a Tennessee MVR if they hire an employee who needs to operate a vehicle or machinery for their job, or if required by law. Some common driving professions that may require employers to conduct MVR checks include truck drivers, CDL drivers, school bus drivers, rideshare drivers, and heavy machinery operators.

Types of Tennessee motor vehicle records

Tennessee offers two types of MVRs:

  • A 3-year driving record, which contains an individual’s driving history, violations, citations, and other details for the past three years.
  • A 10-year driving record, which contains the same information as a 3-year record but includes ten years of history.

Both types of reports are available to Tennessee residents who want to review their driving records. If a third party—like an employer—wishes to order a report, they’ll need written permission from the person to whom the record belongs in order to submit a request to the Driver Services division.

Why should employers order Tennessee MVR reports?

Employers in Tennessee should order MVRs to help verify that a job candidate has the qualifications required for a role, promote public safety, and maintain compliance.

Employers often prioritize compliance requirements when running background checks, and MVRs may be mandated by law for some industries. For example, the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requires motor carriers and trucking businesses that employ interstate commercial drivers to perform DOT background checks, which always include MVR checks. Laws like this are designed to protect public safety by requiring employers to verify commercial driving candidates’ qualifications during the hiring process.

A Tennessee MVR report can help employers verify that prospective employees have a safe driving history, even if not required by local, state, or federal law. Performing driving record checks may help lead to fewer road incidents, lower truck and car insurance rates, and reduce an employer’s level of risk.

How to get a driving record in Tennessee

Employers can request a 3-year or 10-year Tennessee driver's license record by contacting Drivers Services at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security directly, or by working with a qualified background check service to speed up turnaround times and reduce manual work.  

There are several ways employers can order a report themselves:

In each case, employers must provide the individual's name, date of birth, Social Security number, and driver's license number. You’ll also need written consent from the job candidate before you perform a driving background check. Provide Form SF-1279 to the candidate, and include the completed form when you submit your request for driving records. Employers requesting background checks online can upload the form to the Tennessee e-Services website.

Employers can streamline MVR checks and save time by enlisting the help of a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr. Checkr helps you improve the speed and accuracy of MVR checks—in Tennessee or across multiple states—and quickly get the information you need. Perform MVR checks, criminal background checks, employment verification, and more comprehensive background screenings through one easy-to-use dashboard. Partnering with Checkr helps you reduce MVR turnaround times and manual work at any scale.

If you choose to work with a CRA to conduct MVR checks, you’ll need to comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under this federal law, employers must provide written disclosure to candidates that they use a background check as part of the hiring process and then get written permission before ordering a report. If the employer uses information from a background check to disqualify a candidate, they must follow the adverse action process.

What information is included in a Tennessee driving record?

A Tennessee driving record report contains an individual’s driving history from the timeframe requested (three or ten years). This may include licenses, traffic convictions, driving violations, citations, points on a license, and other driving-related information.

What is the Tennessee point system?

Points on a driving record in Tennessee reflect an individual’s traffic violations and their severity. Each type of violation is worth a certain number of points. If a certain point threshold is exceeded, the license holder may be subject to disciplinary action—such as a mandatory driver’s education course or license suspension.

Examples of traffic violations and the number of points associated with the violation in Tennessee include:

  • Failing to obey traffic instructions: 4 points
  • Texting while driving: 3 points
  • Passing a stopped school bus taking on or discharging passengers: 8 points
  • Reckless driving: 6 points
  • Speeding 6-15 MPH in excess of speed zone: 3 points

Drivers who receive 12 or more points during a 12-month period may receive a proposed suspension and the opportunity to attend a hearing. The state may also offer the driver a chance to attend a driving class instead of receiving a suspension. Additional car insurance impacts often apply. Employers should consult Tennessee government resources for the most up-to-date point values and resulting actions.

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Tennessee driving record laws

Tennessee laws, and federal laws, regulate how employers can access and use driving record information. Some common laws employers should be aware of are the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and Tennessee Code § 55-25-107.

Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)

Summary: The DPPA is a federal law that protects the release and use of a driver’s private information. Under this law, a motor vehicle record may not be released except for certain permissible purposes, which may include employment background checks.  See law.

Tennessee Code § 55-25-107

Summary: Tennessee Code § 55-25-107 covers the exceptions to Tennessee Code § 55-25-104. For employers, it states that businesses can request driver records if the request relates to normal business practices—such as hiring—or to verify information provided by a candidate about a commercial driver’s license if they obtain written permission from the individual. See law.

How much is an MVR in Tennessee?

The cost of an MVR in Tennessee is $5 per report when requested directly from the TN Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Prices for MVRs when working with a background check service may vary, but employers often find cost savings when ordering driving records through a CRA—especially when conducting a high volume of MVR checks, additional background check screenings, DOT background checks, or checks across multiple states.

In addition to individual record costs, employers should consider the time and labor investment required to order MVRs directly. Hiring teams need to allocate time to personally contact state agencies, follow up on report orders, manage compliance, communicate with candidate

Employers are often able to reduce the overhead costs of running Tennessee MVR checks by streamlining their background check processes with a CRA, like Checkr. Checkr offers customizable pricing for fast, accurate background checks—including multi-state and DOT-compliant driving record checks—at any scale. Our candidate portal and multi-lingual support team help candidates stay informed and keep background checks on track, giving your team time back to achieve your biggest hiring goals.

Get a Tennessee MVR report from Checkr

Tennessee businesses often rely on MVR checks to help verify job candidate qualifications and meet compliance requirements. However, managing a background check process in-house can result in greater risk of human error, slower turnaround times, and headaches for your hiring team. 

Working with a trusted background check provider, like Checkr, helps employers quickly get standard or commercial, DOT-compliant MVRs from Tennessee and any other US state. Checkr’s easy-to-use dashboard helps employers manage all their background checks in one place, get MVR results quickly, and simplify managing compliance requirements. Get a TN driving record today with Checkr.

Get a Tennessee MVR check today


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

As Content Marketing Manager at Checkr, Kate is passionate about developing resources that educate employers and job candidates about background checks, hiring insights, and the opportunity to build a better future through fair chance hiring.

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