Mo. House endorses English-only driver's exams | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. House endorses English-only driver's exams

Feb 20, 2012

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would require driver’s license exams be given only in English.

Currently, the state of Missouri provides the written driver’s exam in English and eleven other languages.  House Member Mark Parkinson (R, St. Charles) says his bill follows the spirit of the state constitution’s mandate that public proceedings be conducted in English.

“I looked a real quick search up on the…if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true…but there’s 6,999 different spoken languages and dialects throughout the world," Parkinson said.  "Why are we only catering to eleven and not every one?”

Jeanette Mott Oxford (D, St. Louis) suggests it’s unfair to force legal immigrants to read a complicated test in English within a few weeks of arriving in America.

“There’s no history of these folks causing accidents because of (their) being unable to read a test…they read road signs," Oxford said.  "I don’t understand any rationale for this bill other than to play to a pretty bigoted audience, unfortunately.”

The bill passed mostly along party lines.  It needs one more vote by the full House before moving to the Missouri Senate, where it died last year.  The measure would allow the use of sign language interpreters for the deaf.