License revoked for Gonzales driving school; owner issues refunds

License revoked for Gonzales driving school; owner issues refunds

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Regina Allen says she was looking forward to her 16-year-old son finally getting his driver's license. She's had to run so many errands since the flood, and she's had a hard time keeping up with her children's schedules as well, especially since her son is a football player.

"It's really difficult for me to stop working, stop doing what I'm doing, and have to accommodate him back and forth to practice," Allen said.

Allen's son completed driving courses at the Smart Start Driving Academy on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge. He was a few points short of passing the license test over the summer, but when they came back this month for a second attempt, they found the building was shut down due to flood damage, with a notice listing two phone numbers. However, both of those numbers led to automated answers saying the lines were disconnected. Allen found out online that the business had moved to another building on Airline Highway in Gonzales.

She says they visited the new location Tuesday morning, only to find out her son would not be administered another test, and she was given a partial refund. Owner, Ron Thomas, said he's been dealing with angry customers since the flooding.

"Was hoping that we could possibly get back up and running, get some more instructors in, get these students, some of these students driven, if not all of them," Thomas said.

Thomas says he's lost all of his instructors and has been trying to run the company himself, driving students six or seven days a week. The state issued him a letter in September saying the license for the school would not be renewed at the end of the year. Two to three weeks ago, the state issued Thomas
another letter, saying the license would be completely revoked because of insurance problems and he could not give lessons after November 30.

"Pretty much the nail in the coffin. I'm going to appeal it, I can tell you that. We're going to do our best to try and stay open, but at this particular point and time, that's going to pretty much cut all of the driving out, and we're not going to be able to do any driving. If I don't win the appeal, I don't think we can actually keep the doors open," Thomas said.

Thomas is giving out partial refunds with money out of his own pocket. He is applying for a surety bond, which protects customers when an obligation is not met, to hopefully refund even more money.

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