(WSVN) - He paid to get a license to drive a tractor-trailer. The problem? His instructor kept falling asleep while they were on the road. He recorded the sleeping teacher, and what happened next is why the student called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

There is something about being behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, says Edward Chaparro.

Edward Chaparro: “Just peace, tranquility and then, yeah, just by yourself doing your job. I like it.”

Edward drove a tow truck for a living, but his goal is heading out in an 18-wheeler.

Edward Chaparro: “Yeah, it was my dream to do cross country later on, going on my own, buy my own truck.”

And so, Edward signed up at a trucking school, paid $5,250 and went to work to get his Class A license.

Edward Chaparro: “A big percentage is a booklet they provide you with, and you got to basically learn the whole five pages.”

At school, the drivers learned how to park, move around cones, and then they get to take the big rig out on the road with an instructor.

Meet Edward’s instructor.

Edward Chaparro: “Then, the next thing, I look to my right, and I see him sleeping. I’m like, ‘Hey, you OK?’ Got worried.”

Yep. Instead of instructions to improve his driving, Edward says, the four times he drove with the teacher, he got snoozing.

Edward Chaparro: “Yeah, he slept all the time that I would be on the road. He’ll be sleeping.”

When Edward took the test to get his trucker’s license, he failed. He blamed the lack of instructions from his sleeping teacher, so before he had to pay to take another test, he headed to the office.

Edward Chaparro: “I took a video, and I went up to the bosses, the owners, and I showed them the video. They got mad at me. They said I was not supposed to make that video.”

The next day, Edward was back at school where, he says, his sleepy teacher met him in the parking lot. As you can imagine, he was not happy.

Edward Chaparro: “I was staying away, trying to stay away from him, and he kept on putting his hands on me.”

After the confrontation, the instructor was fired, but Edward was kicked out of the school and told he was not getting his $5,250 tuition back.

Edward Chaparro: “This can’t be happening to me. It’s like a nightmare. Like, is this really happening to me?”

Didn’t get his trucker’s license, didn’t get his money back and now can’t afford to pay to go to another school.

Edward Chaparro: “I cried because I have a baby, and I have to provide for her.”

Well, Howard, Edward was kicked out of school after recording a sleeping instructor on video. Can they refuse to return his money?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, this is tricky. On the one hand, Edward should not have been videotaping while driving a tractor-trailer. On the other hand, the teacher should have been supervising and not sleeping, but a judge would probably side with Edward and conclude it’s a breach of contract, and they owe him the money to finish at another school.”

We spoke to the owner of the driving school. He said, “Edward should have never videotaped the instructor but should have told us to look into it because we have cameras on the trucks.”

But, he added, that is not why Edward was expelled. He said, “We decided to dismiss Edward and the instructor because they got into an argument and almost an altercation, and we don’t allow that.”

The owner added, “We do not give refunds but will return $800 to Edward so he can take the driving test at another school.”

Edward Chaparro: “Yeah, I got a check from them for $800.”

Edward enrolled in another school, passed the driving test, got his Class A license and is now looking for a job driving an 18-wheeler.

Edward Chaparro: “Thank you. I want to appreciate, you know, for the help.”

Good luck on the road, Edward, and if it’s not clear for Howard who violated the contract, how can a non-lawyer like most of us know if our contract is being broken? You can’t. Just use common sense and check out reviews for the company before you sign anything.

Had a long haul trying to solve a problem? Ready to shift gears? Load up and contact us. See if we can come through in the clutch to keep you trucking.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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