Bill Proposes English as Only Language for Driver’s Exams

Dani Kass, Maneater, February 3, 2012

Although driver’s license examinations are currently offered in 12 languages in Missouri, a proposed House bill could limit the options to just English.

House Bill 1147 and its substitute 1186, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, and Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, respectively, would make English the only option for exam takers.

Gatschenberger said this is an issue of public safety, and not all signs can be recognized by shape.

“The road signs that you see out there are not just all yield signs, stop signs, things like that,” he said. “There’s some signs coming up like ‘wrong way,’ and ‘this situation’s coming up’ or ‘black ice.’”

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said the Missouri State Highway Patrol has spoken out against this bill.

“They’re the people who make those decisions analytically,” Kelly said. “They have decided the right way to conduct the measurement and the examination of drivers. I think that for us to meddle in it is foolish.”

Kelly said there would be safety issues if the bill is passed.

“I was a traffic judge for seven years, and I know this stuff,” Kelly said. “The practical effect is, if you prevent people from getting driver’s licenses, that means they also can’t get insurance, and they’re going to drive anyway because they need to drive to get to work or wherever.”

{snip}

Kelly said the bill serves as “political grandstand.”

“There’s no other purpose of the bill except to be against people who can’t speak English,” he said.

Webber also said it serves as an anti-immigration bill.

“It is definitely throwing red meat to the folks who are anti-immigrant, whether legal or illegal,” he said.

Gatschenberger said though he hears anti-immigration claims often, the sole purpose of the bill is public safety.

{snip}

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  • As luck would have it, I had to get my own MO Drivers License renewed today.

    The sponsors are correct — If we can have the driving test in English, Ebonics and ten other languages, then all the road signs should be in those 12 languages as well.  Though I shouldn’t give anyone any ideas.

    While they’re at it, they could add a provision to this bill to prohibit these buy-by-the-month fly by night car insurance companies that appeal to the ghetto crowd from operating within or near a DoR office, which many do if the DoR office is in the wrong part of town.  You know the type of firm:  They buy insurance but only pay for one month just to have the proof of insurance to get the license plates or the renewal sticker.

    Australia has the right idea:  Liability insurance is built in to the (high) cost of registering a car to get the license plates.  That way, you know every duly registered car has liability.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if some state passed a Spanish or Ebonics  Only bill, would a court  overturn it?

  • Anonymous

    If drivers can’t read English, then we need to make  a road sign for every language. There are “Approximately 337 languages are spoken or signed by the population” here in the United States . Wikipedia

    For example at each intersection, we just put up 337 different stop sign. Simple, problem solved.

    However, there is still just one little problem,  just because a person speaks a language, doesn’t mean they can read it. I think the government needs to come up with a multimillion dollar grant to study the problem, not solve it, just study it.

  • Anonymous

    For you legal beagles.

    If a state issued a  driver license to someone who could not read English and their failure to follow written instructions resulted in a traffic accident, could the state be held responsible for reckless endangerment?

  • Better still…..can the illiterate obtain a driver’s license in Missouri?

    In theory, no.  In reality…

    If you catch my drift.

  • Anonymous

    “Anti-immigrant or common sense?”
    I wasn’t aware there was a difference.

    “There’s no other purpose of the bill except to be against people who can’t speak English,”
    He forgot to add… “invading an English-speaking country and destroying it”. I don’t think the bill has anything against people speaking their languages in their own countries.

    “The practical effect is, if you prevent people from getting driver’s
    licenses, that means they also can’t get insurance, and they’re going to
    drive anyway because they need to drive to get to work or wherever.”
    Anyone with that attitude should be banned from ever driving (or better yet, pre-emptively incarcerated). Driving is a very dangerous privelige that we give some people because they prove they can be trusted to behave responsibly behind the wheel.

  • “I was a traffic judge for seven years, and I know this stuff,” Kelly
    said. “The practical effect is, if you prevent people from getting
    driver’s licenses, that means they also can’t get insurance, and they’re
    going to drive anyway because they need to drive to get to work or
    wherever.”

    I bet while she was a traffic judge she suspended/revoked peoples licenses for an array of different reasons…whats the point if  “they’re
    going to drive anyway because they need to drive to get to work or
    wherever.”