Driving School Dead End: Owners Banned For Life

The owners of the state's largest driving school are now banned from the business for life and the Academy of Driving has been ordered to close its doors under current ownership.

Joaquim "Jack" Sousa and his wife, Sharon, owners of the Academy of Driving, admitted to more than 470 allegations of wrongdoing at a Department of Motor Vehicle hearing on Wednesday.  As part of an ordered lifetime ban on teaching driver's education and owning a driving school, they surrendered their licenses to do both.

"Today's action is a victory for DMV's efforts to prosecute those who pose safety risks to drivers and who carelessly disregard safety practices," said DMV Commissioner Robert M. Ward.  "We believe this action is in the best interests of those seeking an education about how to operate a vehicle safely on our roads."

The Sousas are now barred from:

  • Seeking an application to operate a driving school or driving school instructor's license in the state of Connecticut.
  • Acting as an officer, director, stockholder, partner employee, consultant, or holding any direct or indirect interest in any business that holds or applies for a driving school license.

"I am pleased that they have pleaded guilty to all departmental charges, which have resulted in a revocation of their licenses and a lifetime ban on engaging in driver education in Connecticut," said Ward.

The DMV's charges stem from an investigation that began with state inspectors noticing possible irregularities in the school's operation. Academy of Driving has 57 locations throughout the state and has more than 500 students in training at any one time.

Sousa and his wife were arrested on October 21, 2008 on multiple counts of criminal charges.  Sources close to the investigation said they are expected to accept a plea bargain on more than 100 felony criminal charges when they return to court on Friday.

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