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New York Approves Online Pre-Licensing Course for New Drivers

Written by Joey Rosenberg | May 13, 2020

Update: New York Safety Council now offers the online 5-Hour Pre-Licensing Course to New York drivers ages 18 and up. Checkout now and get started.

Traditionally, new drivers seeking a license in New York have been required to take a 5-hour classroom course to learn the rules of the road and safe driving principles. But starting in December 2020, the state will allow drivers ages 18 and up to take the Online Pre-Licensing Program, a convenient online version of the 5-hour pre-licensing course.

In October 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill S3965-A, which approved a pilot program to create an online offering for the 5-hour pre-licensing course. The program, which starts with the development of rules and regulations, will run from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2025.

To take the 5-hour course online, you must have a valid New York learner permit that includes your photograph. At this time, the New York DMV does not allow teens under 18 to enroll in the Online Pre-Licensing Program. New drivers seeking their junior driver license (Class DJ) or junior motorcycle license (Class MJ) must continue to take the 5-hour course in person.

American Safety Council's online 5-Hour Pre-Licensing Course will provide new drivers with more convenience and flexibility as they work toward meeting state requirements to earn their first driver license.

The company's online Defensive Driving course has already helped more than 50,000 New Yorkers reduce their traffic violation points and save 10% on their insurance premiums.

About the 5-Hour Pre-Licensing Course

Also known as the five-hour course, this program was created to provide new drivers the information they need to drive safely. All new drivers in the state must complete the course before they can schedule the behind-the-wheel road test for their driver license.

For many students, this course represents the only formal opportunity to learn the basic rules of the road. Topics covered in the course include:

  • The meaning of road signs and road markings
  • Principles of safe driving
  • Defensive driving skills
  • Factors that impact your ability to drive safely

This course also covers information about driving on the interstate highway system, appropriate risk management skills, safe driver habits and skills, and the impact of alcohol and other drugs on your ability to drive safely.

In the past, this course has been offered at educational institutions such as high schools, colleges, commercial driving schools and other sites approved by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYS DMV). The course curriculum has been standardized by the NYS DMV, and the program is administered by instructors who have been certified by the New York State Education Department.

With the new online format, students will have the flexibility to complete their training anywhere with internet access. Unlike the classroom-based course, students can learn at their own pace and take breaks at any time.

Adapting to a Changing Learning Environment

New technology has impacted every sector of the economy, including education. Training providers and regulatory agencies are leveraging the power of the internet to improve the quality of education that students receive.

Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island acknowledged this as a major benefit of the new legislation.

"In today's ever-evolving technological environment, there is a steady and consistent movement toward on-line offerings of goods and services," Cusick said. "Allowing these courses to be done online would provide flexibility and efficiency to this step of the licensing process."

He added that DMV services are expanding to an online format with great success, and the public is reporting increased satisfaction with these offerings.

Those who are interested in taking the 5-hour pre-licensing course in the classroom will have the ability to do so. While the online option is ideal for many students, others may prefer to complete their training in person.

Cusick said that the online course options allow the DMV to monitor the activity of students and training providers far better than in a classroom setting. This will provide helpful oversight during the rollout of the online program.

Getting Your License After Pre-Licensing Training

Within 24 hours of passing the online pre-licensing course, you'll receive an email that confirms you completed the course. Your course completion will be automatically reported to the state. The next step to getting your license is taking the road test.

The DMV recommends that all new drivers complete at least 50 hours of driving practice before taking the road test. Your practice should include 15 hours of night driving and 10 hours of driving in moderate to heavy traffic.

The day of your road test, you're required to bring:

  • Your photo learner permit
  • Glasses or contacts if you need corrective lenses
  • A vehicle to drive during the test that has a valid registration and inspection
  • A licensed driver age 21 or older to operate the test vehicle

Because your course completion confirmation is sent directly to the state, you do not need to bring a Pre-Licensing Course Certificate (MV 278) to the DMV when you're ready to take your road test.

Once you pass your road test, you'll receive an interim license that allows you to drive. You will receive your photo driver license in the mail in about two weeks.


New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (2018, July). Pre-Licensing Course Instructor's Manual. Retrieved from

New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (n.d.). Prepare for your road test. Retrieved from

New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (n.d.). Requirements and forms for pre-licensing course provider. Retrieved from

New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (n.d.). Schedule and take a road test. Retrieved from

The New York State Senate. (n.d.). Senate Bill S3965A. Retrieved from

Whittaker, J. (2019, October 11). State Looks To Offer 5-Hour Course Online. Retrieved from