(1) The department shall approve and regulate the courses of all driver improvement schools, as the courses relate to ss. 318.14(9), 322.0261, and 322.291, including courses that use technology as a delivery method.
(2)(a) In determining whether to approve the courses referenced in this section, the department shall consider course content designed to promote safety, driver awareness, crash avoidance techniques, and other factors or criteria to improve driver performance from a safety viewpoint, including promoting motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian safety and risk factors resulting from driver attitude and irresponsible driver behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and using electronic devices while driving. Initial approval of the courses shall also be based on the department’s review of all course materials, course presentation to the department by the provider, and the provider’s plan for effective oversight of the course by those who deliver the course in the state. New courses shall be provisionally approved and limited to the judicial circuit originally approved for pilot testing until the course is fully approved by the department for statewide delivery.
(b) In determining whether to approve courses of driver improvement schools that use technology as the delivery method as the courses relate to ss. 318.14(9) and 322.0261, the department shall consider only those courses submitted by a person, business, or entity which have approval for statewide delivery.
(3) The department shall not accept proof of attendance of courses from persons who attend those schools that do not teach an approved course.
(4) In addition to a regular course fee, an assessment fee in the amount of $2.50 shall be collected by the school from each person who elects to attend a course, as it relates to ss. 318.14(9), 322.0261, 322.291, and 627.06501. The course provider must remit the $2.50 assessment fee to the department for deposit into the Highway Safety Operating Trust Fund in order to receive unique course completion certificate numbers for course participants. The assessment fee will be used to administer this program and to fund the general operations of the department. (5)(a) The department is authorized to maintain the information and records necessary to administer its duties and responsibilities for driver improvement courses. Course providers are required to maintain all records related to the conduct of their approved courses for 5 years and allow the department to inspect course records as necessary. Records may be maintained in an electronic format. If such information is a public record as defined in chapter 119, it shall be made available to the public upon request pursuant to s. 119.07(1).
(b) The department or court may prepare a traffic school reference guide which lists the benefits of attending a driver improvement school and contains the names of the fully approved course providers with a single telephone number for each provider as furnished by the provider.
(6) The department shall adopt rules establishing and maintaining policies and procedures to implement the requirements of this section. These policies and procedures may include, but shall not be limited to, the following: (a) Effectiveness studies.—The department shall conduct effectiveness studies on each type of driver improvement course pertaining to ss. 318.14(9), 322.0261, and 322.291 on a recurring 5-year basis, including in the study process the consequence of failed studies.
(b) Required updates.—The department may require that courses approved under this section be updated at the department’s request. Failure of a course provider to update the course under this section shall result in the suspension of the course approval until the course is updated and approved by the department.
(c) Course conduct.—The department shall require that the approved course providers ensure their driver improvement schools are conducting the approved course fully and to the required time limit and content requirements.
(d) Course content.—The department shall set and modify course content requirements to keep current with laws and safety information. Course content includes all items used in the conduct of the course.
(e) Course duration.—The department shall set the duration of all course types.
(f) Submission of records.—The department shall require that all course providers submit course completion information to the department through the department’s Driver Improvement Certificate Issuance System within 5 days.
(g) Sanctions.—The department shall develop the criteria to sanction a course provider for any violation of this section or any other law that pertains to the approval and use of driver improvement courses.
(h) Miscellaneous requirements.—The department shall require that all course providers:
1. Disclose all fees associated with courses offered by the provider and associated driver improvement schools and not charge any fees that are not disclosed during registration.
2. Provide proof of ownership, copyright, or written permission from the course owner to use the course in this state.
3. Ensure that any course that is offered in a classroom setting, by the provider or a school authorized by the provider to teach the course, is offered at locations that are free from distractions and reasonably accessible to most applicants.
4. Issue a certificate to persons who successfully complete the course.