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How to Start a Driving School in Idaho: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here you’ll learn everything you need to start your Driving School in Idaho

Compared to many states, Idaho makes it relatively easy to establish a driving school (or “driving business”). You still need to complete forms, and meet requirements, but the state seems to be driving school friendly.

Idaho driving businesses must offer both the classroom and behind-the-wheel components of a 30/6 driver education. The classroom component can be either in-person or online, or a mix.

How to open your driving school in Idaho

Driving School Licensing and Requirements

General requirements

To operate a driving school in Idaho, you will need to be licensed by the state. Licenses are valid for one year. Applications should be submitted online. The application form asks for certain items, and you may be asked for additional documentation:

  • Name and address of applicant.
  • Names and addresses of all corporate owners of more than a 25% interest, or members and managers of an LLC–all will have to provide background information.
  • Certificates of occupancy for all classroom locations–these forms can be obtained at City Hall.
  • List of all vehicles you will be using, as well as current inspections (made within 60 days of the application).
  • Certificate of Insurance for each vehicle.
  • List of licensed instructors on your staff.
  • A copy of your curriculum and grading criteria
  • Driving log form
  • Application fee of $50 and the Initial License fee of $500.

The current regulations for Driving Businesses are straightforward and clear. Driving school instructors and owners should know and comply with them.

Your application must be received by the State Driving Businesses Licensure Board at least 10 days before a board meeting. The meeting dates can be found on the Board’s Calendar.

Your school license lasts for one year to the anniversary date of licensure. Make sure you renew on time–with due consideration for the Board meeting schedule.

Idaho requires the following minimum liability insurance coverage:

  • $250,000 bodily injury to one person
  • $250,000 bodily injury to more than one person
  • You may opt for a $500,000 combined single limit coverage in lieu of the previous coverages
  • $5,000 for medical payments

If you have employees, you must carry workers’ compensation insurance covering them–and potentially you–in the event of injury while on the job. You should, of course, consider higher coverages and/or an umbrella policy to cover your operations.

Driving School Owner’s License

Idaho places few personal requirements on owners of driving schools. The main bar would be conviction for a number of crimes involving fraudulent behavior or moral turpitude.

You may not operate without a license for your program, and it is expected that your program of instruction will meet or exceed the requirements set by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

A driving school in Idaho may be a full Driver Education Provider or offer the Driver Skills Development Program to new or licensed drivers on an off-road courses.

Driving Instructor’s License

While no specific requirements are set for driving school owners, instructors must demonstrate qualification before they receive a license from Idaho. Submit the application form, the $50 application fee, and the $50 license fee. Instructors must meet the following qualifications.

  • Be at least 21 years old. and have at least a high school diploma (or the equivalent).
  • Have a valid license for the class instruction is provided for.
  • Not have any suspensions/revocations/DUIs in the last 36 months
  • Not have more than 2 moving violations in the last 12 months.
  • Pass the criminal background check.

Your driving instructor’s license lasts for one year, and expires on your birth date. You should submit a medical certificate every two years. Driving schools may offer an apprenticeship program.

Driving instructors must go through the apprentice program. This program involves 60 hours of classroom instruction and student teaching, and 108 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including student instruction.

You must complete at least 8 hours of Continuing Education each year.

Location

You are generally free to establish your business anywhere you see fit–meeting the requirements outlined below. You can choose to have classroom space, or you may conduct classroom driver education at off-site locations, including local public or private schools. Your contract with the school or other location should be included in your license application.

You must present your certificate of occupancy for your classroom space, unless you are using a public/private school, government building, church, or synagogue.

You may not locate your school within 1,500 feet of any office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, although the Registrar may waive this requirement.

Your school license must be conspicuously at your classroom location.

Records must be maintained at your main business office.

Your license allows you to operate at 1 main classroom location; you may use secondary locations as long as you don’t use a given location for more than 60 days in a year.

Classroom facilities must be in a building suitable for instruction. Compliance with local and state sanitation requirements is expected. The classroom must be equipped with suitable desks, tables, chairs and other items appropriate to the setting.

Your school name cannot be substantially similar to that of another driving school, and you may not use the words “State”, “Government”, “Municipal”, “City”, or “County” in the school name, and you must use your school’s name only in advertising and publicity.

Don’t ever give a student or parent the impression that your instruction guarantees receiving a driver’s license–you may mention your pass rate.

Vehicles

Your vehicles need to have dual controls for the brakes, and an extra interior rear view mirror for the instructor. They must have passed the most recent Idaho safety and emissions inspections.

Signage needs to be on the vehicle, identifying the vehicle as a driver training vehicles. While specific wording and lettering sizes are not required, the signs must be safely secured. “Student Driver”, “Driver Education”, “Driver Training” or “Driving School” are all acceptable. You are not prohibited from including the school’s name and contact information.

Records and Contracts

You will need to keep records of all students and instruction for at least three years after they finish their training with you. The records you need to keep are:

  • Driving logs from behind-the-wheel instruction–covered in the Curriculum section.
  • Written grades and grading criteria for all classroom work

The Driving School Curriculum in Idaho

Driving schools in Idaho must offer both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. The classroom time required is 30 hours; the behind-the-wheel segment includes 6 hours of actual driving and 6 hours of observation.

The components you must teach during the 30 hour classroom course are outlined in the regulations, and are:

  • Student and Parent Orientation
  • Preparing to Drive–Gauges and Signals, Seatbelts
  • Road signs, signals, and lane markings
  • Basic traffic laws and right-of-way
  • Risk, time, and space management
  • Natural laws, vehicle balance, hills, and curves
  • Driving in rural, urban, and freeway environments
  • Bad weather and emergencies
  • Other uses of the roads, distractions, and aggressive driving
  • Effects of drugs and alcohol

Your 6 hour behind-the-wheel course must include the following components:

  • Basic car functions: inspection, starting, signaling, steering, and stopping
  • Turns, hills, curves, lane changes
  • Urban and freeway driving
  • Parallel parking, passing, and driving independently

No more than two hours of behind-the-wheel instruction may be given to a student in a day.

In addition, students must have 6 hours of observation time, which can be done with you or their parent/guardian. No more than 2 hours of observation time per day counts. No more than 3 students may be in a vehicle at any one time.

You must keep a driving log for each student. The instructor is to complete it, and the log must show the students name, birthdate, phone number, permit number, date of instruction, time behind-the-wheel and observing, and date the student passed.

Commercial Driver’s License Instruction

Providing instruction for students pursuing a CDL in Idaho generally follow those for the regular driver’s license.

As a proprietary non-degree granting school, you’ll need to register with the State. The regulations are available online.

You’ll need to work with the Idaho State Board of Education to be licensed as a proprietary CDL school.

Idaho does not require CDL education before applicants take the CDL knowledge and road tests; many schools will offer a 120 or 160 hour classroom/behind-the-wheel course.

Starting a Small Business in Idaho

Your driving school is not just subject to the requirements for driver’s education in Idaho. You also need to establish your Driving School as a small business, and have to consider a number of factors. The form of business you take up, as well as the procedures, are appropriate topics of conversation with your lawyer and accountant. The considerations we offer here are not legal advice, but should provide you with things to think about as you set up your business.

Business Registration

All businesses need to register in Idaho, especially the business name—the “doing business as” certificate. Banks may not be willing to set up your account until you have that DBA form. We’ll include where to register in the business structures below.

You will also need to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number. Banks may need it for your business accounts, and you may be wanting to employ people. To obtain an EIN, go to the IRS website and complete the application form you find linked there.

You should also register with the the State. You may have to file a local license.  

Business name

Before you get going, you’ll want to check to see if the business name you want is in fact available in Idaho. You can search the Idaho database, as well as visit the office of the county recorder.

Once you know your business name is available, you can file it with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. Filing your Articles of Organization or Incorporation also counts as filing your business name.

Sole Proprietorship

Owning your own business is the easiest one to set up, but also may open you to liability concerns. As a sole proprietor, your business is simply part of your life. You keep a separate set of books, and complete a Schedule C for your 1040 form every April.

Sole proprietorships can expose the proprietor for full liability, even with insurance. That may mean that if you are sued, you may lose your home and property, as well as your personal bank accounts and other assets. This risk may not be worth the ease and independence.

In Idaho, the big step you have to take is to register your Assumed Business Name with the county or town clerk in which you have a place of business.

Corporations and LLCs

You may set up a full corporation (“Inc.”) as your business structure. Corporations limit your liability for loss to your investment in it, as a general rule (although banks may require you to be obligated personally if you take out a loan to get your business going). This form of business keeps your personal assets safe.

As an owner of a corporation, you’ll have to set up your driving school consistently with the rules for corporations in Idaho. You’ll also have to decide whether to be an S Corporation or a C Corporation. Generally, the S Corporation form is set up for small businesses. It allows income and taxes to pass through to the owners. You will want to discuss these forms with your attorney and accountant.

You may be able to set your driving school up as an LLC in Idaho. The LLC form provides the same limited liability as a Corporation, but do not have to comply with the corporate formalities most states require, including items like bylaws, required stockholder meetings, and minutes (although minutes of meetings are probably a good idea).

You’ll have to discuss the advantages and disadvantages for the LLC with your attorney and accountant.

Both Corporations and LLCs file with the Secretary of State. In addition to name reservation, you’ll need to submit the following forms

Now What Do I Do?

Once you’ve complied with all the legal requirements to be both a driving school and a small business in Idaho, you need to get students.

Getting students requires marketing—largely on the internet. You will need the following systems set up to obtain students:

  • A website—focused on the types of students you want to attract, and aimed at your locality.
  • The website should also include a blog, which allows you write about a variety topics and engage in Search Engine Optimization—which will drive traffic to your site.
  • A Facebook page, linked to your website, to become noticed and drive traffic.
  • Getting testimonials from successful students.

Marketing is something you will have to devote time to. DrivingSchool.Marketing can help you get the best bang for your marketing buck.

Conclusion

Idaho makes it easy for your to start your driving school in the state. Conduct your market research, complete your business plan, and get your new business going.

Disclaimer: This page is part of DrivingSchool.Marketing’s series of state and provincial pages designed to help entrepreneurs like you start driving schools. States change their regulations, or the web pages they host their forms. While we believe these rules are accurate as of the date of publication, we cannot guarantee full accuracy. Please let us know if you spot any problems.

 

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Josh Meah

Josh Meah

Josh is the CEO of DrivingSchool.Marketing. His goal is to be the marketing and business development partner of driving schools around the world, helping them become thriving businesses while also expanding general awareness for the importance of traffic safety standards and education.

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