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Driving schools can begin online instruction, Cuomo says

The Medford DMV is seen earlier this year.

The Medford DMV is seen earlier this year. Credit: Barry Sloan

Driver education schools can resume teaching students the Pre-Licensing Course — also known as the five-hour course — but only online as they seek to obtain their driver's licenses, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday.

The order is effective immediately, he said. Completing the course is required before students can schedule a driver's road test.

The instruction will take place over Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Go To Meeting and other platforms, he said.

“We understand that student drivers can’t appear in person, and this will allow them to participate online, so they can get their driver's license and they can do it safely,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call.

The classes must take place through DMV-licensed driving schools.

The state laid down several ground rules for the instruction.

“Schools are not required to seek approval from DMV prior to implementing the distance learning option, but they must have a valid Pre-Licensing endorsement to deliver courses and employ one or more qualified instructors,” Cuomo’s office said in a statement.

The courses must also be delivered live, in real time, by each school’s qualified instructors through the video sessions.

“The school's teleconferencing option must provide for interaction between instructors and students, face-to-face, just as they would in a traditional classroom, but in the virtual environment,” the statement said. “Software or computer programs to deliver the course without a qualified instructor are not allowed.” 

The Department of Motor Vehicles was inundated with customers at the start of the year as the state gave people who are in this country without legal papers the ability to obtain a driver's license. Lines of hundreds of people snaked around the outside of DMV offices for weeks, and customers endured hourslong waits for routine transactions.

Cuomo said Wednesday he was approving the driver school move as state agencies in general shift back into gear.

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