Fewer than 20 states allow third-party driving examinations. In those that do, applicants typically attend driving school and are then tested. Once they demonstrate proficiency through several on-the-road tests, they are given a certificate of passing.
That document moves them to the head of the line in the state's Division of Motor Vehicles driver's license offices. There, they are supposed to prove residency and eligibility, including lawful presence in the U.S., before getting a license.
On your honor
But as the case of Ola's Driving School indicates, the process operates largely on the honor system.
Colorado created its system of third-party examinations before 1998 as a way to reduce wait times in the state's DMV offices.
Today there are 185 third-party driving schools providing 30 percent of the state's road tests.
Only four DMV auditors monitor those schools, Couch said, and they are responsible for mandatory annual audits of each. That would allow for about a week to conduct each audit, and leave no time for investigating complaints.
"Most of the time auditors are looking at making sure there is educational compliance and that they are meeting all the requirements the law expects for teaching people to drive," Couch said. "The kind of audits for fraud and the reviews for fraud require some specialized law enforcement- type approach to the process. Generally speaking, most of them have been focused on looking at the schools and helping them do their job as proper testers."
The result: In more than 13 years of checking, only five driving-school providers have been permanently banned from working as third-party testers by the state, Couch said.
And Fadeyi isn't the only driving-school instructor in trouble with state and federal authorities.
In May, instructor Dennis Dean Sieving of the American Driving Academy in Arvada was indicted on federal charges that he took money to certify driving exams.
Many of Sieving's customers were immigrants from Myanmar, and Fadeyi's patrons mostly came from Somalia or Ethiopia, court records show.
The Department of Revenue revoked about 1,500 driver's licenses from people who received certification from Sieving.
Couch declined to say whether any driver's licenses from people who tested at Ola's Driving School would be rescinded.
The problem in Colorado is not that it invites abuse by schools--schools do not issue ID documents. The problem is that the licensing process itself has holes in it, with or without 3rd party testers.