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State Looks To Offer 5-Hour Course Online

Teens looking to get their learner’s permit could soon take the five-hour pre-licensing course on the internet.

Legislation (A.5874A/S.3695A) was approved by the state Legislature earlier this year and was delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature on Oct. 1. Assemblymen Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, both voted in favor of the legislation, which passed the state Assembly 144-0. The Senate legislation was sponsored by Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo.

“Currently, the courses are only delivered in a classroom setting,” wrote Assemblyman Michael Cusick, D-Staten Island, in his legislative justification. “In today’s ever-evolving technological environment, there is a steady and consistent movement toward on-line offerings of goods and services. Allowing these courses to be done online would provide flexibility and efficiency to this step of the licensing process. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has been providing an increasing number of services to the public through internet-based forums with great success and increased consumer satisfaction. While a classroom setting might be the preferred (or only) option for some individuals, on-line access will provide a great convenience to many. Additionally, the ability for the Department of Motor Vehicles to monitor the activity of online providers and course participants is far better than traditional classroom settings.”

Even if Cuomo signs the legislation, it doesn’t mean the courses can be taken online overnight. The legislation only establishes a pilot program, and that can’t start until the state motor vehicles commissioner develops rules and regulations governing the program. The commissioner can establish an application fee of not more than $7,500 for groups that want to sponsor pre-licensing courses and can establish a fee of not more than $8 for each student who completes the course. The money from the per-student fee will be deposited in the state’s highway and bridge trust fund.

The legislation would take effect June 20, 2020, and would expire June 30, 2025.

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