HB2605: Driver training programs; transfers to DMV responsibility therefor established for public schools.

HOUSE BILL NO. 2605
Offered January 22, 2009
A BILL to amend and reenact 46.2-323, 46.2-324.1, 46.2-325, 46.2-334, 46.2-335, 46.2-1700, and 46.2-1702 of the Code of Virginia, and to repeal 22.1-205 of the Code of Virginia, relating to driver training programs established for the public school system by the Department of Education.
Patron-- Hugo

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 46.2-323, 46.2-324.1, 46.2-325, 46.2-334, 46.2-335, 46.2-1700, and 46.2-1702 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

46.2-323. Application for driver's license; proof of completion of driver education program; penalty.

A. Every application for a driver's license, temporary driver's permit, learner's permit, or motorcycle learner's permit shall be made on a form prescribed by the Department and the applicant shall write his usual signature in ink in the space provided on the form. The form shall include notice to the applicant of the duty to register with the Department of State Police as provided in Chapter 9 ( 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1, if the applicant has been convicted of an offense for which registration with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is required.

B. Every application shall state the full legal name, year, month, and date of birth, social security number, sex, and residence address of the applicant; whether or not the applicant has previously been licensed as a driver and, if so, when and by what state, and whether or not his license has ever been suspended or revoked and, if so, the date of and reason for such suspension or revocation. The Department, as a condition for the issuance of any driver's license, temporary driver's permit, learner's permit, or motorcycle learner's permit may require the surrender of any driver's license or, in the case of a motorcycle learner's permit, a motorcycle license issued by another state and held by the applicant. The applicant shall also answer any questions on the application form or otherwise propounded by the Department incidental to the examination. The applicant may also be required to present to the person conducting the examination a birth certificate or other evidence, reasonably acceptable to the Department, of his name and date of birth.

The applicant shall also certify that he is a resident of the Commonwealth by signing a certification statement, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner, and by providing satisfactory proof that he is a resident of the Commonwealth. The Commissioner may adopt regulations to determine the process by which applicants prove that they are residents of the Commonwealth.

If the applicant either (i) fails or refuses to sign the certification statement or (ii) fails to follow the process determined by the Commissioner for proving residency, the Department shall not issue the applicant a driver's license, temporary driver's permit, learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit.

Any applicant who knowingly makes a false certification of Virginia residency or supplies false or fictitious evidence of Virginia residency shall be punished as provided in 46.2-348.

The Commissioner may, on a case-by-case basis, waive any provision of such regulations for good cause shown.

C. Every application for a driver's license shall include a color photograph of the applicant supplied under arrangements made by the Department. The photograph shall be processed by the Department so that the photograph can be made part of the issued license.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of 46.2-334, every applicant for a driver's license who is under 19 years of age shall furnish the Department with satisfactory proof of his successful completion of a driver education program approved by the State Department of Education.

E. The Department shall electronically transmit application information to the Department of State Police, in a format approved by the State Police, for comparison with information contained in the Virginia Criminal Information Network and National Crime Information Center Convicted Sexual Offender Registry Files, at the time of issuance of a driver's license, temporary driver's permit, learner's permit, or motorcycle learner's permit. Whenever it appears from the records of the State Police that a person has failed to comply with the duty to register or reregister pursuant to Chapter 9 ( 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1, the State Police shall promptly investigate and, if there is probable cause to believe a violation has occurred, obtain a warrant or assist in obtaining an indictment charging a violation of 18.2-472.1 in the jurisdiction in which the person made application of licensure.

46.2-324.1. Requirements for initial licensure of certain applicants.

No driver's license shall be issued to any applicant unless he either (i) provides written evidence of having satisfactorily completed a course of driver instruction at a driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) of this title or a comparable course approved by the Department or Department of Education or (ii) has held a learner's permit issued by the Department for at least 30 days prior to his first behind-the-wheel examination by the Department.

The provisions of this section shall only apply to persons who are at least 19 years old and who either (i) have never held a driver's license issued by Virginia or any other state or territory of the United States or foreign country or (ii) have never been licensed or held the license endorsement or classification required to operate the type of vehicle which they now propose to operate, except that the provisions of this section shall apply to applicants for commercial driver's licenses who are 18 years old or older and have never before held a commercial driver's license or have never held the license endorsement or classification required to operate the type of commercial motor vehicle that they now propose to operate. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department from requiring any person to complete the skills examination as prescribed in 46.2-325 and the written or automated examinations as prescribed in 46.2-335.

46.2-325. Examination of applicants; waiver of Department's examination under certain circumstances; behind-the-wheel and knowledge examinations.

A. The Department shall examine every applicant for a driver's license before issuing any license to determine (i) his physical and mental qualifications and his ability to drive a motor vehicle without jeopardizing the safety of persons or property and (ii) if any facts exist which would bar the issuance of a license under 46.2-311 through 46.2-316, 46.2-334 or 46.2-335. The examination, however, shall not include investigation of any facts other than those directly pertaining to the ability of the applicant to drive a motor vehicle with safety, or other than those facts declared to be prerequisite to the issuance of a license under this chapter. No applicant otherwise competent shall be required to demonstrate ability to park any motor vehicle except in an adequate parking space between horizontal markers, and not between flags or sticks simulating parked vehicles. Except as provided for in 46.2-337, applicants for licensure to drive motor vehicles of the classifications referred to in 46.2-328 shall submit to examinations which relate to the operation of those vehicles.

Except for applicants subject to 46.2-312, if the Commissioner is satisfied that an applicant has demonstrated the same proficiency as required by the Department's examination through successful completion of either (i) the driver education course approved by the Department of Education or (ii) a driver training course offered by a driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) of this title, he may waive those parts of the Department's examination provided for in this section that require the applicant to drive and park a motor vehicle.

B. No person who fails the behind-the-wheel examination for a driver's license administered by the Department three times shall be permitted to take such examination a fourth time until he successfully completes, subsequent to the third examination failure, the in-vehicle component of driver instruction at a driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) or a comparable course approved by the Department or the Department of Education. In addition, no person who fails the driver knowledge examination for a driver's license administered by the Department three times shall be permitted to take such examination a fourth time until he successfully completes, subsequent to the third examination failure, the classroom component of driver instruction at a driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) or a comparable course approved by the Department or the Department of Education.

The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to persons placed under medical control by the Department pursuant to 46.2-322.

46.2-334. Conditions and requirements for licensure of persons under 18; requests for cancellation of minor's driver's license; temporary driver's licenses; home-schooled students; fee.

A. Minors at least 16 years and three months old may be issued driver's licenses under the following conditions:

1. The minor shall submit a proper application and satisfactory evidence that he (i) is a resident of the Commonwealth; (ii) has successfully completed a driver education course approved by either the State Department of Education or, in the case of a course offered by a driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) of this title, by the Department of Motor Vehicles; and (iii) is mentally, physically, and otherwise qualified to drive a motor vehicle safely.

2. The minor's application for a driver's license must be signed by a parent of the applicant, otherwise by the guardian having custody of him. However, in the event a minor has no parent or guardian, then a driver's license shall not be issued to him unless his application is signed by the judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the city or county in which he resides. If the minor making the application is married or otherwise emancipated, in lieu of any parent's, guardian's or judge's signature, the minor may present proper evidence of the solemnization of the marriage or the order of emancipation.

3. The minor shall be required to state in his application whether or not he has been convicted of an offense triable by, or tried in, a juvenile and domestic relations district court or found by such court to be a child in need of supervision, as defined in 16.1-228. If it appears that the minor has been adjudged not innocent of the offense alleged or has been found to be a child in need of supervision, the Department shall not issue a license without the written approval of the judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court making an adjudication as to the minor or the like approval of a similar court of the county or city in which the parent or guardian, respectively, of the minor resides.

4. The application for a permanent driver's license by a minor of the age of persons required to attend school pursuant to 22.1-254 shall be accompanied by evidence of compliance with the compulsory school attendance law set forth in Article 1 ( 22.1-254 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 22.1. This evidence shall be provided in writing by the minor's parent. If the minor is unable to provide such evidence, he shall not be granted a driver's license until he reaches the age of 18 or presents proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or an order of emancipation, or the parent, as defined in 22.1-1, or other person standing in loco parentis has provided written authorization for the minor to obtain a driver's license.

A minor may, however, present a high school diploma or its equivalent or a certificate indicating completion of a prescribed course of study as defined by the local school board pursuant to 22.1-253.13:4 as evidence of compulsory school attendance compliance.

5. The minor applicant shall certify in writing, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner, that he is a resident of the Commonwealth. The applicant's parent or guardian shall also certify that the applicant is a resident by signing the certification. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the parent's certification of residence.

B. Any custodial parent or guardian of an unmarried or unemancipated minor may, after the issuance of a permanent driver's license to such minor, file with the Department a written request that the license of the minor be canceled. When such request is filed, the Department shall cancel the license of the minor and the license shall not thereafter be reissued by the Department until a period of six months has elapsed from the date of cancellation or the minor reaches his eighteenth birthday, whichever shall occur sooner. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this subsection, in the case of a minor whose parents have been awarded joint legal custody, a request that the license of the minor be cancelled must be signed by both legal custodians. In the event one parent is not reasonably available or the parents do not agree, one parent may petition the juvenile and domestic relations district court to make a determination that the license of the minor be cancelled.

C. The provisions of subsection A of this section requiring that an application for a driver's license be signed by the parent or guardian shall be waived by the Commissioner if the application is accompanied by proper evidence of the solemnization of the minor's marriage or a certified copy of a court order, issued under the provisions of Article 15 ( 16.1-331 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 16.1, declaring the applicant to be an emancipated minor.

D. A learner's permit accompanied by documentation verifying the minor's successful completion of an approved driver education course, signed by the minor's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis, shall constitute a temporary driver's license for purposes of driving unaccompanied by a licensed driver as required in 46.2-335, if all other requirements of this chapter have been met. The temporary license shall only be valid until the permanent license is presented as provided in 46.2-336.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section requiring the successful completion of a driver education course approved by the State Department of Education, theThe Commissioner, on application therefor by a person at least 16 years and three months old but less than 18 years old, shall issue to the applicant a temporary driver's license valid for six months if he (i) certifies by signing, together with his parent or guardian, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner that he is a resident of the Commonwealth; (ii) is the holder of a valid driver's license from another state; and (iii) has not been found guilty of or otherwise responsible for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle. No temporary license issued under this subsection shall be renewed, nor shall any second or subsequent temporary license under this subsection be issued to the same applicant. Any such minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to obtain the signature of his parent or guardian for the temporary driver's license.

F. For persons qualifying for a driver's license through driver education courses approved by the Department of Education or courses offered by driver training schools licensed by the Department, the application for the learner's permit shall be used as the application for the driver's license pursuant to 46.2-335.

G. Driver's licenses shall be issued by the Department to minors successfully completing driver education courses approved by the Department of Education (i) when the Department receives from the school proper certification that the student (a) has successfully completed such course, including a road skills examination and (b) is regularly attending school and is in good academic standing or, if not in such standing or submitting evidence thereof, whose parent or guardian, having custody of such minor, provides written authorization for the minor to obtain a driver's license, which written authorization shall be obtained on forms provided by the Department and indicating the Commonwealth's interest in the good academic standing and regular school attendance of such minors; and (ii) upon payment of a fee of $2.40 per year, based on the period of the license's validity. For applicants attending public schools, good academic standing may be certified by the public school principal or any of his designees. For applicants attending nonpublic schools, such certification shall be made by the private school principal or any of his designees; for minors receiving home schooling, such certification shall be made by the home schooling parent or tutor. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the certification of good academic standing or any written authorization from his parent or guardian to obtain a driver's license.

H. For those home schooled students completing driver education courses approved by the Board of Education and instructed by his own parent or guardian, no driver's license shall be issued until the student has successfully completed the driver's license examination administered by the Department. Furthermore, the Commissioner shall not issue a driver's license for those home schooled students completing driver education courses approved by the Board of Education and instructed by his own parent or guardian if it is determined by the Commissioner that, at the time of such instruction, such parent or guardian had accumulated six or more driver demerit points in the most recently preceding 12 months, had been convicted within the most recent 11 preceding years of driving while intoxicated in violation of 18.2-266 or a substantially similar law in another state, or had ever been convicted of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter in violation of 18.2-35 or 18.2-36 or a substantially similar law in another state.

46.2-335. Learner's permits; fees; certification required.

A. The Department, on receiving from any Virginia resident over the age of 15 years and six months an application for a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit, may, subject to the applicant's satisfactory documentation of meeting the requirements of this chapter and successful completion of the written or automated knowledge and vision examinations and, in the case of a motorcycle learner's permit applicant, the automated motorcycle test, issue a permit entitling the applicant, while having the permit in his immediate possession, to drive a motor vehicle or, if the application is made for a motorcycle learner's permit, a motorcycle, on the highways, when accompanied by any licensed driver 21 years of age or older or by his parent or legal guardian, or by a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother, or step-sister 18 years of age or older. The accompanying person shall be (i) alert, able to assist the driver, and actually occupying a seat beside the driver or, for motorcycle instruction, providing immediate supervision from a separate accompanying motor vehicle and (ii) lawfully permitted to operate the motor vehicle or accompanying motorcycle at that time.

The Department shall not, however, issue a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit to any minor applicant required to provide evidence of compliance with the compulsory school attendance law set forth in Article 1 ( 22.1-254 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 22.1, unless such applicant is in good academic standing or, if not in such standing or submitting evidence thereof, whose parent or guardian, having custody of such minor, provides written authorization for the minor to obtain a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit, which written authorization shall be obtained on forms provided by the Department and indicating the Commonwealth's interest in the good academic standing and regular school attendance of such minors. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the certification of good academic standing or any written authorization from his parent or guardian to obtain a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit.

Such permit, except a motorcycle learner's permit, shall be valid until the holder thereof either is issued a driver's license as provided for in this chapter or no longer meets the qualifications for issuance of a learner's permit as provided in this section. Motorcycle learner's permits shall be valid for 12 months. When a motorcycle learner's permit expires, the permittee may, upon submission of an application, payment of the application fee, and successful completion of the examinations, be issued another motorcycle learner's permit valid for 12 months.

B. No driver's license shall be issued to any such person who is less than 18 years old unless, while holding a learner's permit, he has driven a motor vehicle for at least 45 hours, at least 15 of which were after sunset, as certified by his parent, foster parent, or legal guardian unless the person is married or otherwise emancipated. Such certification shall be on a form provided by the Commissioner and shall contain the following statement:

"It is illegal for anyone to give false information in connection with obtaining a driver's license. This certification is considered part of the driver's license application, and anyone who certifies to a false statement may be prosecuted. I certify that the statements made and the information submitted by me regarding this certification are true and correct."

Such form shall also include the driver's license or Department of Motor Vehicles-issued identification card number of the person making the certification.

C. No learner's permit shall authorize its holder to operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is less than 18 years old, except when participating in a driver education program approved by the Department of Education or a course offered by a driver training school licensed by the Department. This passenger limitation, however, shall not apply to the driver's family or household as defined in subsection B of 46.2-334.01.

D. No learner's permit shall authorize its holder to operate a motor vehicle between midnight and four o'clock a.m.

E. A violation of subsection C or D of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this subsection change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

F. The provisions of 46.2-323 and 46.2-334 relating to evidence and certification of Virginia residence and, in the case of persons of school age, compliance with the compulsory school attendance law shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to applications for learner's permits and motorcycle learner's permits issued under this section.

G. For persons qualifying for a driver's license through driver education courses approved by the Department of Education or courses offered by driver training schools licensed by the Department, the application for the learner's permit shall be used as the application for the driver's license.

H. The Department shall charge a fee of $3 for each learner's permit and motorcycle learner's permit issued under this section. Fees for issuance of learner's permits shall be paid into the driver education fund of the state treasury; fees for issuance of motorcycle learner's permits shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Motorcycle Rider Safety Training Program Fund created pursuant to 46.2-1191. It shall be unlawful for any person, after having received a learner's permit, to drive a motor vehicle without being accompanied by a licensed driver as provided in the foregoing provisions of this section; however, a learner's permit other than a motorcycle learner's permit, accompanied by documentation verifying that the driver is at least 16 years and three months old and has successfully completed an approved driver's education course, signed by the minor's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis, shall constitute a temporary driver's license for the purpose of driving unaccompanied by a licensed driver 18 years of age or older, if all other requirements of this chapter have been met. Such temporary driver's license shall only be valid until the driver has received his permanent license pursuant to 46.2-336.

I. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the issuance of a learner's permit entitling a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle, except as provided by the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.).

J. The following limitations shall apply to operation of motorcycles by all persons holding motorcycle learner's permits:

1. The operator shall wear an approved safety helmet as provided in 46.2-910.

2. Operation shall be under the immediate supervision of a person licensed to operate a motorcycle who is 21 years of age or older.

3. No person other than the operator shall occupy the motorcycle.

K. Any violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

46.2-1700. Definitions.

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

"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.

"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 college, university, 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.

"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.

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

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.

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. 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 20 years' service with the Virginia Department of State Police by a person who retired or resigned while in good standing from such Department in lieu of requirements established by the Department of Education for instructor qualification.

2. For the purposes of this act, the Department of Motor Vehicles, where applicable, shall accept documentation showing that an applicant completed a course approved by the Department of Education prior to July 1, 2011.

3. That the provisions of this act shall become effective on July 1, 2011.

4. That 22.1-205 of the Code of Virginia is repealed effective July 1, 2011.