Northwest Suburban Driving School's abrupt closure puts brakes on teen drivers

September 9, 2013 (CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill.)

Some students forked over $450 for lessons.

Northwest Suburban Driving School has been in business since 1995. It has taught thousands of teenagers how to drive at its various locations. Suddenly, the school closed its doors without leaving any information about refunds or how to access course records.

It's a day these teenage boys have been dreaming about: getting their driver's license. All three will turn 16 within the next month. They were just about to wrap up a course at the Northwest Suburban Driving School in Crystal Lake when they saw this sign: "All classes cancelled."

"My birthday is Sept. 26th, I needed 2 more drives then all of sudden they shut the place down," said Jacob Franklin, drivers ed student.

Without warning, all of Northwest Suburban Driving School locations were shut down. There is no information for students and their parents about refunds or getting access to records.

"Nobody is answering phones, nobody is answering doors, nobody seems to be around," said Jason Franklin, parent.

"What we are asking for is what we already done and paid for, I don't think handing over records makes them do that much," said Alison Ruckoldt, parent.

The Northwest Suburban Driving School is one of the biggest private driving schools in the state. The Secretary of State's office says the school has always had a good reputation, but it appears the school or its owner has run into financial problems. Instructors have told parents they haven't been paid in a month and a five-day notice to pay rent hangs on the company door.

"We are doing our best to get students into other programs and get reimbursements for our families," said Dave Druker, spokesman, Illinois Secretary of State office.

But, these boys and their parents realize finishing up with another program won't be in time for their 16th birthdays.

"I can remember being 16 and the best day of my life was getting my driver's license, they just took it from them," said Jason Franklin, parent.

For parents and students wanting information about refunds and access to records, call the Secretary of State's office at 847-981-7455. The state says students will not have to retake a class; their records can be transferred to another company.

ABC7 reached out to the Northwest Suburban Driving owner and manager but did not get a response.

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