English-Only Drivers' Tests
3:12 pm
Wed March 9, 2011

Mo. House endorses English-only drivers tests

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

Supporters say doing so would help immigrants assimilate easier into American culture and promote safety, since road signs in Missouri are in English.

The bill is sponsored by State Representative Jerry Nolte (R, Gladstone).

“I think it’s another encouragement to learn the language, and in fact, the proficiency required to become a citizen is much more stringent, as far as the ability to speak English, than would be required on these driver’s license tests," Nolte said.

Opponents, including State Representative Mary Still (D, Columbia), say it would make life harder for immigrants.

“We want them to have insurance, we want them to be able to drive, and we want them to be able to get to their English classes or to get to their jobs to contribute to our society," Still said.

Currently, driver’s license exams in Missouri are available in 12 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Bosnian, and Vietnamese.

Lawmakers also approved an amendment that would allow American Sign Language to be used for deaf applicants.  The bill needs one more House vote before moving to the Missouri Senate.