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Driving instructor accused of issuing false paperwork; 1,400 licenses revoked

7:42 PM, Apr 22, 2011   |    comments
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Dennis Sieving said he had received threats on his facebook page after approximately 1,400 of his former students learned their drivers' licenses have been revoked. Letters from the Colorado Department of Revenue began arriving in the mail Thursday.

The letters told drivers, primarily teenagers, they needed to stop driving immediately and surrender their licenses to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Sieving said he was contacted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security two months ago. He said officials were investigating the Burmese community. Sieving said Burmese students came to him for driving tests, and he has been accused of falsifying their paperwork.

"The Burmese were coming to my office in Arvada and I was doing their tests for them," Sieving told 9NEWS via phone Friday. "They said I just gave them the paperwork and I didn't give them an actual test."

Sieving denies the allegations and said he plans to hire an attorney. He said Homeland Security had not contacted him since and to his knowledge he has not been charged.

"They said the tests were illegal and fraud," said Sieving, who recently resigned as a driving instructor citing 'health reasons.'

As a result of the investigation, Sieving said the Colorado Department of Revenue revoked the licenses of every student he has instructed for the past two years.

"They said nobody took the written or the driving test," Sieving said. "I have proof I turned in my paperwork that I gave them the test."

"I think it's unfair, not just to us, but a lot of people," Mary Diguardi of Highlands Ranch said. "My daughter's heard from other kids. It's inconvenient. These kids have jobs."

The letters from the Dept. of Revenue also said drivers must provide proof they completed both a written test and driving test and pay a reinstatement fee. All of the affected drivers took classes at the American Driving Academy. According to the driving school's website, classes are offered throughout Colorado.

The people who got the letters told 9NEWS their birthdates on the letters were incorrect. The letterhead was also dated, with former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's name.

The errors on the letters led some parents to suspect their legitimacy. However, state officials insisted the letters were valid. They were looking into why those mistakes were made.

Mark Couch, a spokesman for the Colorado Dept. of Revenue which includes the DMV, said state and federal authorities were conducting the investigation into the driving instructor.

"We are investigating cases at this school and to ensure the public's safety we need to make sure the people who received these notices are properly tested," Couch said.

Drivers who received the notice are not legally allowed to drive until they can verify what tests they took with the DMV versus what tests they took with driving school.

"They need to be prepared to prove what they tests they took and where," Couch said.

Couch would not comment on the specifics of the investigation but did confirm identity theft was not suspected in any of the cases. He acknowledged the inconvenience for those who received the letters.

"They're victims of the behavior of the individual who is being investigated," Couch said. "We're trying to get it resolved so these people can get back on the roads and make sure that they are safe drivers for all the rest of us."

9NEWS tried calling American Driving Academy several times Thursday and again on Friday. The phone was either busy or kept ringing.

Meanwhile, teenage drivers and their parents are left with the hassle and expense of going through the licensing process all over again.

"Very frustrating," Kristen Elsner of Littleton said. "You have to pay to get them licenses again."

911 Driving School in Westminster is offering to help anyone affected by this. The school is offering driving instruction at a discounted rate. For more information, call 303-425-0911 or click here.



Earlier, we posted this story on our 9NEWS facebook page. Here's what some of our viewers wrote:

Chad Ochman: "If they were able to pass the driving test than they should keep their licenses."

James Tallo: "that's complete B/S....the government needs to go after the instructor for restitution of fees and leave the kids alone.... this will give the kids a bad taste for government before they can even vote!!!!!"

Kris Kinzli Lee: "The DMV needs to take accountability!"

You can read the full comment thread and post your own comments by clicking here.

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