House OKs virtual training course

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ATLANTA --- Georgia took a step toward allowing virtual defensive driving classes Monday, as the state House approved a measure allowing motorists to complete courses online instead of in person.

The measure's sponsors said it would help the state better regulate the schools, as many judges already order motorists to take online courses through uncertified programs. But critics worried it was too lax on driving offenders and could lead to widespread fraud because there's no way to tell who is actually taking the course.

Republican state Rep. Tommy Benton said, "For me, online courses reward traffic violators. Why are we allowing these people to get out so easy?"

The bill requires state regulators to first sign off on the six-hour driver's improvement courses before they could be offered online. Each program would also have to have security measures to hinder fraud. The measure would not apply to DUI schools.

It passed 103-56 and now goes to the Senate.

State Rep. Tom Rice said the proposal, modeled after similar legislation in Texas, would lead to a drop in crashes and traffic violations throughout Georgia.

"I believe that you'll have the same good results that you've had across this country," said Mr. Rice, a Peachtree Corners Republican who sponsored the bill.


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