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Virginia

December 29, 2003

House Bill 2404: Allows Parent Taught Driver Education

Update: 3/25/2003

Sponsor:
Glenn Oder

Summary:
This bill allows parents to teach the behind-the-wheel portion of driver education.

Status:

HB 2404 passed a full House of Delegates vote on February 1. It passed the Senate (and was reaffirmed by the House) on February 20. It was signed by the Governor on March 24.

HSLDA's Position:
We support H.B. 2404 because:

  1. After Colorado permitted homeschool parents to teach their own children behind the wheel, traffic deaths dropped dramatically.

  2. Commercial driver training is expensive.

  3. Commercial driver training is not available in many communities.

  4. Public schools often do not welcome homeschoolers to their programs.

  5. Homeschool parents are already allowed to teach the classroom portion, and students would have more consistency in training if parents are allowed to teach the behind the wheel portion.

  6. The bill requires parents to have a good driving record (regarding demerits, intoxication).

  7. The Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles have no objection.

  8. There is sometimes a long waiting list for other courses.

Background:
House Bill 2404 allows parents of students who meet the requirements for home instruction under the homeschool statute or the religious exemption statute to teach the behind the wheel portion of driver's education. (Parents with certain driving demerits or convictions would not be allowed). The Department of Education is to approve specific programs.

Two years ago, HSLDA drafted the current law to secure the right of parents to teach the classroom portion of driver training. The Department of Motor Vehicles Director did not want to endorse parent taught behind the wheel until the classroom portion was tested for a few years.

The Home Education Association of Virginia and HSLDA tried again this year and God has blessed the efforts of homeschooled families by allowing this bill to pass giving homeschool parents the right to teach both classroom and behind the wheel driver training.

Currently, parents are allowed to teach the classroom portion of Driver's Education and up to 40 hours of the in-car portion. The remaining 10 hours in-car must be completed by a certified education, whether at a commercial driving school or the public school. Most public schools do not let home school students take their course. Some commercial schools charge as much as $200 for the behind-the-wheel training. Sometimes there are long waiting lists. Especially in rural areas, parents may need to drive hours to get to a commercial school.

On January 28, the bill passed unanimously out of a subcommittee. Late in the day it was presented to the full committee. Joe Guarino of Home Educators Association of Virginia and I testified in support of the bill. The Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Education testified that they had no objection to the bill.

During a committee debate, one delegate seemed to believe parents were not qualified to teach the behind the wheel portion of driver's education. This is not a significant objection since the student would still be required to pass the DMV's driver test, and since the course itself would be approved by the Department of Education.

Implementation and Administration Issues:
A program approved by the Department of Education must be used to complete the classroom driver training. Currently, only correspondence-type programs have been approved, and can be found on the DMV website (http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/drivers/ed_reqs.asp). The program must include 36 hours of classroom instruction. (Your program may allow a variety of activities to count toward the 36 hours.)

Expect to pay a significant fee for the services your classroom program provides. Some "classroom" programs actually include very thorough behind the wheel (BTW) training, but this does not count as the "official" BTW training.

In order to get a license, students must have 40 hours driving practice (including 10 hours after sunset). The state provides a very useful guide ("40 Hour Parent/Teen Driving Guide") that can be used while parents are providing the teen with 40 hours driving experience (http://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/Instruction/PE/). The 40 "sessions" in the guide correspond to the 40 hours driving practice that is required. The guide contains a log you can use to track the required 40 hours, though your classroom program may require you to use the log your program provides. The 40 hours can occur any time between obtaining the learner's permit and applying for the license.

After completing the classroom portion, your program should issue a certificate of completion which you will need for the next step.

This certificate (the original, not a copy) must be mailed to the state DMV along with a form HS-1. Also include a copy of the letter from the school board documenting that the teen is under the religious exemption or a letter from the local public school superintendent "acknowledging compliance" with the home instruction law. Superintendents, of course, have no power to "approve" home schooling, but this is how the HS-1 is currently worded. HSLDA is working on getting this corrected. (Link to DMV forms and info: http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/drivers/homeschoolers.asp.) The HS-1 contains the address to which these items should be mailed.

The state DMV will then mail you a letter giving you their approval to teach BTW to your teen (and will return your original classroom training certificate). Keep careful track of this letter. You can then begin the "official" BTW training.

The only BTW program currently approved is "Module 11", the Department of Education's own program, which is available free online at http://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/Instruction/PE/ca_guide.html. It is NOT a correspondence-type program. It contains 11 individual lessons. It is challenging to use because of its terse outline format and lack of explanation. It is called "Module 11" because it is the last in a series of eleven modules, with modules 1 through 10 being the classroom instruction units the public schools use. Module 11 contains a form to complete as the teen finishes the 11 lessons. Form HS-3, the general information sheet for parent-taught driver education, says "you must follow Module 11."

Each of the 11 lessons refers to one or more of the ten public school classroom lesson modules. Modules 1 though 10 are also available on line (same website as for Module 11). They can sometimes provide illumination for the Module 11 lessons.

Form HS-3 tells parents that the teen must have seven 50-minute periods of driving and seven 50-minute periods of observing another student driver or a parent driving (with no more than 2 periods in any 24-hour period) while completing Module 11. Module 11 includes a log designed to document completion of all 11 lessons. The log could--and probably should-- also be used to document completion of the 14 periods HS-3 requires, although it is poorly designed for that purpose. Module 11 suggests a 25 minute period of driving and a 25 minute period of observation for each lesson (except for lessons 8 and 11, for which it recommends 50 minutes each of observing and driving). Form HS-3 also states the teen must drive 50 miles while completing Module 11. The Module 11 log has a place to record miles driven.

After completing the BTW training, it is advisable to call your local DMV. See if they have a form HS-2. This form is essential to get the license, but at least one DMV recently claimed to have none in their office. Also ask when they administer road tests, as your teen will have to take the road test.

After verifying that your local DMV has the HS-2 form and that road testing is available (sometimes they cut off new road tests after a long line forms), bring your teen-- with his learner's permit-- to your local DMV along with the letter from the state DMV authorizing parent-taught BTW training. Although the following may not be requested, it is strongly recommended that you bring: 1) original certificate from your classroom training program; 2) logs showing your teen completed 40 hours of practice driving; 3) log showing completion of Module 11, including the 14 "periods"; and 4) religious exemption letter from school board or "approval" letter from public school superintendent.

If all your paperwork is satisfactory, they give you a form HS-2 to fill out (as well as a parental consent form) and allow your teen to take a road test (be sure your car is in good, legal operating condition, and that your teen knows where in the car to find the registration papers, the evidence of auto insurance, and the emergency flashers).

After a satisfactory road test, the local DMV will complete the HS-2 and your teen will be photographed (or it may be possible to use the photo from his learner's permit, if DMV still has it on file). Your teen's copy of the HS-2 together with his learner's permit will suffice as a license to drive. You will receive notice to come to court to receive the license itself.

To get a license, your teen must be at least 16 years and 3 months old, and he must have held a learner's permit at least 9 months.

Many local offices may not be familiar with the procedures to follow because the law came into force just this summer. Do not be surprised if DMV personnel seem unsure or need to talk to a supervisor. In order to avoid multiple trips to the DMV, be familiar with the process before you go in.

Virginia is one of only a tiny handful of states where parents are allowed to teach both the classroom and BTW driver instruction. Although it might be easy to forget it while struggling with all the required paperwork, we enjoy more liberty in this regard than homeschoolers in most other states.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

1/31/2003 - Virginia--Parent Taught Driver Education Needs Your Help!

2/4/2003 - Subject: Virginia--Legislative Update: Bad News, Good News

2/10/2003 - Virginia--Call Now! Homeschool Driver Instruction Bill in Jeopardy

Home Schoolers Push for Drivers Ed Bill — WSET

2/13/2003 - Virginia--Calls Needed Urgently on Parent Taught Driver's Ed Bill

2/14/2003 - Virginia--Update On Parent-Taught Driver's Ed

2/25/2003 - Virginia--Parent-taught Driver's Ed Bill Goes to Governor

3/25/2003 - Virginia--Final Victory: Governor Signs Driver Ed Bill