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Code of Virginia
Title 46.2. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 17. Driver Training Schools
6/24/2022

Article 1. Driver Training Schools, Generally.

§ 46.2-1700. (Effective February 7, 2022) Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Behind-the-wheel instructor" means an individual who meets the requirements for licensure under § 46.2-1708 and is employed by a training provider who provides behind-the-wheel training involving the actual operation of a commercial motor vehicle by an entry-level driver on a range or a public road.

"Behind-the-wheel training" means training provided by a licensed behind-the-wheel instructor when an entry-level driver has actual control of the power unit during a driving lesson conducted on a range or on a public road. "Behind-the-wheel training" does not include time an entry-level driver spends observing the operation of a commercial motor vehicle when he is not in control of the vehicle.

"Class A licensee" means a driver training school that provides training in the operation of commercial motor vehicles as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

"Class B licensee" means a driver training school that provides training in the operation of any type of motor vehicle other than motorcycles and commercial motor vehicles as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

"Computer-based driver education course" means the classroom portion of driver education offered by a computer-based driver education provider through the Internet or other electronic means approved by the Department whose content and quality is comparable to that of courses offered in the Commonwealth's public schools.

"Computer-based driver education provider" means a driver training school licensed by the Department in accordance with this chapter to conduct computer-based driver education courses.

"Driver training school" or "school" means a business enterprise conducted by an individual, association, partnership, or corporation, for the education and training of persons, either practically or theoretically or both, to operate or drive motor vehicles, and charging a consideration or tuition for such services. "Driver training school" or "school" does not mean any institution of higher education, school established pursuant to § 46.2-1314, school maintained or classes conducted by employers for their own employees where no fee or tuition is charged, schools or classes owned and operated by or under the authority of bona fide religious institutions, or by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, training programs for school bus operators established pursuant to § 22.1-181, driver education programs established pursuant to § 22.1-205, or schools accredited by accrediting associations approved by the Department of Education; however, if any such entity or program excluded from the definition of "driver training school" offers driver education and training through a contractual arrangement with another person for consideration, then that other person shall be considered a driver training school subject to the requirements of this chapter.

"Entry-level driver" means the same as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

"Entry-level driver training" means the same as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

"FMCSA" means the same as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

"Instructor" means any person, whether acting for himself as operator of a driver training school or for such school for compensation, who teaches, conducts classes, gives demonstrations, or supervises persons learning to operate or drive a motor vehicle.

"Key information" means the training provider name, address, phone number, type or types of training offered, training provider status, and any change in state licensure, certification, or accreditation status.

"Range" means an area that is free of obstructions, enables the driver to maneuver safely and free from interference from other vehicles and hazards, and has adequate sight lines.

"Theory instruction" means knowledge instruction on the operation of a commercial motor vehicle and related matters provided by a licensed theory instructor through lectures, demonstrations, audio-visual presentations, computer-based instruction, driving simulation devices, online training, or similar means.

"Theory instructor" means an individual who meets the requirements for licensure under § 46.2-1708 and is employed by a training provider and who provides knowledge instruction on the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

"Training provider" means the same as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

1990, c. 466; 2004, c. 587; 2016, c. 437; 2019, c. 750.

§ 46.2-1701. Licenses required for school and instructor; fees.

No driver training school shall be established or continue operation unless the school obtains from the Commissioner a license authorizing the school to operate within this Commonwealth.

No instructor shall perform the actions enumerated in the definition of "instructor" in § 46.2-1700 unless he obtains from the Commissioner a license authorizing him to act as driving instructor.

The Commissioner shall have authority to set and collect school and instructor licensing fees. All licensing fees collected by the Commissioner under this chapter shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special fund to meet the expenses of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Upon application of a driver training school licensed in accordance with this chapter, the Commissioner may license such driver training school using criteria established by the Commissioner pursuant to § 46.2-1702 to provide computer-based driver education courses using curricula approved by the Commissioner. A nonrefundable annual licensing fee of $100 shall be required with each application. Such annual licensing fee shall be in addition to fees permitted under this chapter.

1990, c. 466; 2004, c. 587; 2016, c. 437.

§ 46.2-1701.1. Bond of applicants.

The applicant shall file a surety bond in the amount of $100,000 for a Class A licensee and $5,000 for a Class B licensee. The bond shall be payable to the Commonwealth of Virginia and conditioned to protect the contractual rights of students. The bonding requirement for a Class A license may be reduced, at the discretion of the Department, on a showing by the school that no course of study for which tuition is collected lasts longer than thirty days or that the school collects no advance tuition other than equal monthly installments based on the length of the course of study. The minimum bond for any school shall be $5,000. The Department may collect against this bond in the case that the driver training school violates applicable state or federal law or regulation.

1991, c. 214; 2019, c. 750.

§ 46.2-1701.2. Schools required to have established places of business.

No license shall be issued or renewed to any driver training school unless it has an established place of business in the Commonwealth that:

1. Satisfies all local zoning regulations;

2. Has office space in which the driver training school houses all records required to be maintained under § 46.2-1701.3 and which:

a. Is equipped with a desk, chairs, filing space, a working telephone listed in the name of the school, and working utilities;

b. Complies with federal, state, and local health, fire, and building code requirements; and

c. Meets all other place of business and recordkeeping requirements set forth in this chapter and established in regulations promulgated by the Department.

2004, c. 587.

§ 46.2-1701.3. Student records to be maintained.

All student records and other records, as required by the Department, shall be maintained on the premises of the licensed location. The Commissioner may, on written request from a driver training school, permit records to be maintained at a location other than the premises of the licensed location for good cause shown. All records shall be preserved in original form or in film, magnetic, electronic, or optical media, including but not limited to microfilm or microfiche, for a period of three years in a manner that permits systematic retrieval. All records required to be maintained by the provisions of this section or by regulation shall be available to the Commissioner or his agents during regular business hours or at any other reasonable time, as determined by the Commissioner.

2004, c. 587.

§ 46.2-1701.4. Reports and records of licensed computer-based driver education providers.

The Commissioner may require annual, periodic, or special reports from computer-based driver education providers in a manner and form approved by the Commissioner. The Commissioner may require a computer-based driver education provider to file with the Department a true copy of any contract, agreement, or arrangement between such computer-based driver education provider and any person in relation to the provisions of this chapter. The Commissioner may prescribe the forms of any accounts, records, and memoranda to be kept by computer-based driver education providers and the length of time such accounts, records, and memoranda shall be preserved.

2016, c. 437.

§ 46.2-1702. Certification of driver education courses by Commissioner.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commissioner shall have the authority to approve as a driver education course satisfying the requirements of § 46.2-334 any course which is offered by any driver training school licensed under the provisions of this chapter if he finds that the course is of comparable content and quality to that offered in the Commonwealth's public schools. In making such finding, the Commissioner shall not require that the instructors of any driver training school meet the certification requirements of teachers in the Commonwealth's public schools.

Any comprehensive community college within the Virginia Community College System shall have the authority to offer the courses required by the Virginia Board of Education to become a certified driver education instructor in Virginia on a not-for-credit basis so long as the courses include the same content and curriculum required by the Department of Education, enabling individuals who complete those courses to then teach driver's education in Virginia driver education training schools upon official certification by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Virginia Department of Education shall provide the curriculum, content, and other information regarding the courses required to become certified driver education instructors in Virginia to any comprehensive community college within the Virginia Community College System. The content of each course must be accurate and rigorous and must meet the requirements for the Department of Education's Curriculum and Administrative Guide for Driver's Education, which includes the Board of Education's standards of learning.

Except for schools in the Commonwealth's public school system and providers of correspondence courses approved by the Board of Education pursuant to subsection F of § 22.1-205, only those driver training schools that are licensed as computer-based driver education providers shall be authorized to administer computer-based driver education courses, including the parent/student driver education component of the driver education curriculum as established in § 22.1-205. The content and quality of such computer-based driver education courses shall be comparable to that of courses offered in the Commonwealth's public schools. The Commissioner may establish minimum standards for testing students who have enrolled in computer-based driver education courses. Such standards may include (i) requirements for the test site; (ii) verification that the person taking the test is the person enrolled in the course; (iii) verification of the identity of the student using photo identification approved by the Commissioner; and (iv) maintenance of a log containing the name and title of the licensed instructor monitoring the test, the test date, the name of the student taking the test, and the student's time-in and time-out of the test site. Computer-based driver education providers shall not issue a certificate of completion to a student prior to receiving proof of completion of the additional minimum 90-minute parent/student driver education component pursuant to § 22.1-205.

Any driver training school licensed under the provisions of this chapter shall be authorized to provide the 90-minute parent/student driver education component of the driver education curriculum pursuant to § 22.1-205. Only public schools and those driver training schools that are licensed as computer-based driver education providers shall be authorized to administer the parent/student driver education component of the driver education curriculum through a virtual, computer-based program. Completion of such education component shall satisfy the requirement for the additional 90-minute parent/student driver education component so long as there is participation of the student's parent or guardian and the content provided is comparable to that which is offered in the Commonwealth's public schools and emphasizes (a) parental responsibilities regarding juvenile driver behavior, (b) juvenile driving restrictions pursuant to this Code, and (c) the dangers of driving while intoxicated and underage consumption of alcohol.

The Commissioner shall have authority to approve any driver education course offered by any Class A licensee if he finds the course meets the requirements for such courses as set forth in this chapter and as otherwise established by the Department. Class A licensees shall not be permitted to administer behind-the-wheel examinations unless authorized pursuant to § 46.2-326.1. Driver education courses offered by any Class B licensee shall be based on the driver education curriculum currently approved by the Department of Education and the Department.

The Commissioner may accept, in lieu of requirements established by the Department of Education for instructor qualification, (1) 20 years' service with the Virginia Department of State Police by a law-enforcement officer who retired or resigned while in good standing from such Department or (2)(i) 20 years' service as a traffic enforcement officer with patrol experience with any local police department by a law-enforcement officer who has been certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services pursuant to § 15.2-1706, (ii) who retired or resigned while in good standing from such department, and (iii) who has been certified to teach driver training by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

1990, c. 466; 1991, c. 214; 2004, c. 587; 2014, cc. 666, 685, 753; 2016, c. 437; 2017, c. 144; 2018, cc. 521, 619; 2019, cc. 78, 155; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 136.

§ 46.2-1703. Authority to promulgate regulations.

The Commissioner may promulgate regulations necessary to (i) enforce the provisions of this chapter, (ii) provide adequate training for students, (iii) protect student and public safety and (iv) carry out the other provisions of this chapter. These regulations shall include but need not be limited to curriculum requirements, contractual arrangements with students, obligations to students, facilities and equipment, qualifications and other requirements for instructors, school ownership requirements, surety bond requirements, and financial stability of schools.

1990, c. 466; 1991, c. 214; 2004, c. 587.

§ 46.2-1704. Action on applications; hearing on denial.

The Commissioner shall act on any application for a license under this chapter within thirty days after receipt by either granting or denying the application. Any applicant denied a license shall, on his written request made within thirty days, be given a hearing at a time and place determined by the Commissioner or his designee. All hearings under this section shall be public and shall be held promptly. The applicant may be represented by counsel. Any applicant denied a license may not apply again for a license for thirty days from the date of denial of the application.

1991, c. 214.

§ 46.2-1705. Suspension, revocation, cancellation or refusal to renew license; limitations on operations; imposition of monetary penalties.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this section, no license issued under this chapter shall be suspended, revoked, or cancelled or renewal thereof denied, no limitation on operations shall be imposed pursuant to subsection F of this section, and no monetary penalty shall be imposed pursuant to § 46.2-1706, unless the licensee has been furnished a written copy of the complaint against him and the grounds upon which the action is taken and has been offered an opportunity for an administrative hearing to show cause why such action should not be taken.

B. The order suspending, revoking, cancelling, or denying renewal of a license, imposing a limitation on operation, or imposing a monetary penalty, except as otherwise provided in subsection E of this section, shall not become effective until the licensee has had 30 days after notice of the opportunity for a hearing to make a written request for such a hearing. If no hearing has been requested within such 30-day period, the order shall become effective and no hearing shall thereafter be held. A timely request for a hearing shall automatically stay operation of the order until after the hearing.

C. Notice of an order suspending, revoking, cancelling or denying renewal of a license, imposing a limitation on operation, or imposing a monetary penalty and advising the licensee of the opportunity for a hearing shall be mailed to the licensee by registered mail to the school address as shown on the licensee's most recent application for license and shall be considered served when mailed.

D. No licensee whose license has been revoked or cancelled or who has been denied renewal shall apply for a new license within 180 days of such action.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B of this section, an order suspending, revoking, cancelling, or denying renewal of an instructor license shall be effective immediately if the order is based upon a finding by the Commissioner (i) that the instructor's driving record is such that he is not presently qualified to act as an instructor or (ii) that he is otherwise a danger to the safety of his students or the public. Such finding by the Commissioner shall be based on records of driver's license suspension or revocation, upon records of conviction of serious motor vehicle related offenses punishable as a misdemeanor or felony including driving under the influence or reckless driving, and upon such other criteria as the Commissioner may establish by regulation.

Notice of the order of suspension, revocation, cancellation, or denial shall be in writing and mailed in accordance with subsection C. Upon receipt of a request for a hearing appealing the suspension, revocation, cancellation, or denial, the licensee shall be afforded the opportunity for a hearing as soon as practicable, but in no case later than 30 days from receipt of the hearing request. The order shall remain in effect pending the outcome of the hearing.

F. If the Commissioner makes a finding that the conduct of a licensee is in violation of this chapter or regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, he may suspend, revoke, cancel, or refuse to renew the license of such licensee or may order the licensee, in accordance with subsections A, B and C of this section, to limit the types of driver education training provided, restrict the use of the licensee's training vehicles, or both. Whenever the Commissioner takes action limiting operations under this subsection, the Commissioner shall require the licensee to post conspicuous notice of the Commissioner's action under this subsection at the same location as the licensee's license was issued under this chapter, as soon as the Commissioner's order becomes effective. Orders of the Commissioner limiting operations and requiring posting of notices shall remain in effect until (i) the time period for the limitations or restriction has expired and the Commissioner makes a finding that the violations causing the imposition of such limitations or restrictions have been remedied by the licensee or (ii) the Commissioner's order is lifted as the result of an appeal under § 46.2-1704 or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

G. If the Commissioner makes a finding, after conducting a preliminary investigation, that the conduct of a licensee (i) is in violation of this chapter or regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter and (ii) such violation constitutes a danger to public safety, the Commissioner may issue an order suspending the licensee's license to operate a driver training school. Notice of the suspension shall be in writing and mailed in accordance with subsection C of this section. Upon receipt of a request for a hearing appealing the suspension, the licensee shall be afforded the opportunity for a hearing as soon as practicable, but in no case later than 30 days from receipt of the hearing request. The suspension shall remain in effect pending the outcome of the hearing.

1991, c. 214; 2000, c. 179; 2004, c. 587.

§ 46.2-1706. Civil penalties.

In addition to any other sanctions or remedies available to the Commissioner under this chapter, the Commissioner may assess a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 for any violation of any provision of this chapter or any regulation promulgated thereunder. The penalty may be sued for and recovered in the name of the Commonwealth.

1991, c. 214.

§ 46.2-1707. Unlawful acts; prosecution; proceedings in equity.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any of the following acts:

1. Practicing as a driver training school or as an instructor without holding a valid license as required by statute or regulation;

2. Making use of any designation provided by statute or regulation to denote a standard of professional or occupational competence without being duly certified or licensed;

3. Performing any act or function which is restricted by statute or regulation to persons holding a driver training school or instructor license or certification, without being duly certified or licensed;

4. Materially misrepresenting facts in an application for licensure, certification or registration;

5. Willfully refusing to furnish the Department information or records required or requested pursuant to statute or regulation; or

6. Violating any statute or regulation governing the practice of any driver training school or instructor regulated pursuant to this chapter.

Any person who willfully engages in any unlawful act enumerated in this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, the third or any subsequent conviction for violating this section during a 36-month period shall constitute a Class 6 felony.

B. In addition to the provisions of subsection A of this section, the Department may institute proceedings in equity to enjoin any person from engaging in any unlawful act enumerated in this section. Such proceedings shall be brought in the name of the Commonwealth in the circuit court of the city or county in which the unlawful act occurred or in which the defendant resides.

1991, c. 214; 2004, c. 587.