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Checking a babysitter’s driving record

Is it feasible to check the driving record for a potential nanny or babysitter? Here’s how you can verify that the childcare provider you’re interviewing is a safe driver.

Drivers licenses

The question:

Our sitter will need to drive my daughter to and from ballet practice three times a week, and run other errands occasionally. Can I check her driving record?

The Childcare Expert Answers:

There is no easy or fast answer to this question. Laws vary from state to state as to who can access driving records. I live in New Jersey, where privacy laws restrict access to driving records and one must to authorized by the state to take a peek. So if you live in a state with those rules, you will probably need to hire an investigative firm that has the ability to do a search.

The cost is relatively cheap, but it is definitely not a “do-it-yourself” project. I would say that hiring an agency is probably the best way to do this kind of check, regardless of where you live and especially if your sitter has lived other places as well as in your area (you’ll want to check her former places of residence, too).

Another option: Ask the sitter to get a printout of her record for you. Every state allows a license-holder to view his or her own driving record — so just offer to pay the fee for the record. (From our 2011 spot-check of DMV/MVD prices, driving records cost $15 in New JerseyTexas records cost $6, $7 in Michigan, $2 online in California, $3 in Arizona and $10 in New York.) 

Other things to consider

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that when your sitter drives as part of her job, there are a few other things you need to think about. First, have you decided whose car will be used, and who will pay for gas? Have this discussion with your sitter before she starts ferrying your daughter (and dry cleaning).

If it is the sitter’s car, you need to ascertain that she has valid car insurance — just ask to see her current insurance card. Also consider: Is her car a “safe” car (not fancy or new, but safe) that you want your daughter to be in? As appropriate, is there a car seat and/or a working seatbelt?

Insurance required

If it is your car, does your auto insurance allow for an extra driver? You absolutely must call your insurance agent or company to determine if you need a “rider” on your policy to cover anything that may happen when the sitter is behind the wheel. That may also mean that you need to update (or add) an umbrella personal liability policy (this may even apply if the sitter uses her own car). I am not an insurance pro — but I do know that you must make this call!

One more thing to do… Before you let the sitter drive your daughter, you must go for a test drive with her. Presumably she will be on her best driving behavior, but you need to make the effort to assess if she exhibits safe driving skills that you are comfortable with.

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