(Updated 4/29/2016) The Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 21 that it was suspending implementation of a controversial rule that was scheduled to go into effect on May 1 which would have required first-time drivers to complete a driver education course before earning their driver’s license.
“The District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV) is indefinitely suspending the driver education requirement for residents who are first-time drivers regardless of their age,” Vanessa Newton, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We are taking this action to give us a chance to further review the impact it may have.”
The requirement would have mandated residents to take courses consisting of 30 hours of classroom time and eight hours of behind-the-wheel practice. Costs for the courses averaged more than $1,000, and offered no guarantee that the potential driver would pass the DMV test to earn their license.
“The city is being overrun with legislation that is conflated and based on suspect data,” Ward 3 resident Johnny Rawls told the AFRO. “There is no proof that driving courses reduce accidents in the city—especially since there are two other immediate jurisdictions and a boatload of tourists driving D.C. streets. It was another way for the city to rip off its citizens.”
Newton made the announcement after activists and members of the city council, including D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), questioned the impact the costs of the courses would have had on residents. “I don’t want [rules] being put into place without a full understanding of why,” said Cheh, who serves as chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.
DMV Director Lucinda M. Baber had previously touted the education requirement as part of the city’s goal to promote safer driving and reduce accidents.
New drivers will still be required to present a learner’s permit before they can obtain a license. To receive a learner’s permit, D.C. residents 16 years or older must pass vision screening and knowledge tests and provide documentation that proves their identity, residency, and eligibility, according to the DMV.