Georgia Bill requires "English Only" Driver's Tests: Thoughts?

From Driver’s Test Bill Sparks Controversy:

Since I usually weigh in on the commie-pinko side of the spectrum I’ll jump in on the more right-ish side of this one: I have no problem with this. Of course I have no problem with English being the official language of the USA so long as individual states or municipalities can add other languages.

While Spanish is the most common non-English language some would take their test in Georgia has a fairly sizeable Haitian community seasonally (they pick corn and other crops in the southern part of the state) and I seriously doubt anybody translates the exam into Kreyohl. Likewise a Hungarian or Arabic or Chinese speaking immigrant (in spite of Chinese being the most widely spoken language on Earth) would be unlikely to have a test administered in their own language nor would they probably wouldn’t expect it to be.

Since a foreign businessman willing to invest $600 million in Georgia would probably be allowed to drive even if he had 6 DUI’s and only spoke classical Assyrian I don’t think the foreign investment will likely be threatened by the bill.

Your thoughts: is English only as a requirement unfair to Spanish speaking legal residents of Georgia?

Not only do they drive on the wrong side of the road, but they are horrible drivers…and what are good, red blooded American’s supposed to do? Walk? Why should a bunch of furriners be able to use our roads while we, who paid for them. are left to use shanks mare or hitch rides?? Sounds like a horrible idea and…

…oh, wait…


You’ve apparently never driven through Athens after the Tennessee/UGA game or you’d know this isn’t that unusual.

Well, at least they’d be (drunk) 'Merican drivers, not some bloody poncing furriners with bad teeth…
…er, wait. Athens? Never mind about the teeth then…


As to the OP (it is April Fools, but I guess I should actually answer instead of totally derail the thread):

I am of two minds here, to be honest. Part of me wonders why you would necessarily need English to drive around…but then, we are talking about permanent residents, so it seems reasonable to expect people to have to take their tests in English (be cheaper too, since you wouldn’t have to have multiple tests).

I guess, in the end, I’d have to say that I don’t have a serious problem with requiring permanent residents to have to take their test in English.


Yes. Language snobbery is a classic method of harassing people of a disfavored ethnic group; like in the old days when they did things like give Spanish literate readers IQ tests in English and claimed their low scores proved the Spanish were all morons. Or when the government kidnapped children who were being “abused” by being taught languages other than English; that happened in both America and Australia as I recall.

The fact is, other languages including Spanish are becoming more and more common. There’s nothing to be gained by pretending otherwise. Nor for that matter is the ability to speak English supposed to be a requirement for driving, beyond very basic matters like being able to read the speed limit; note all the international symbols these days. And is it IS a requirement, why the except for “drivers living in Georgia on student or work visas”?

Nor will this keep people from driving; all it will do is create more unlicensed drivers and breed disrespect for the law. Regardless of the speeches people may make defending it, I doubt the targets will look at this as anything other than bigotry aimed at them, and people who think the government is bigoted against them aren’t likely to respect it or the laws it makes very much.

For that matter, I think there’s a good chance it will impact the English readers as well, if the tests are re-written to be harder to understand in order to make it harder for people with beginning English skills. Since this is almost certain driven more by bigotry that anything else, I consider that an excellent possibility.

It seems to me the point of requiring licenses in the first place is to encourage drivers to have a minimum level of training before they get behind the wheel.

I suspect the main result of requiring all drivers to take the test in English will be an increase in the number of unlicensed drivers and a slackening of safety standards.

Purely out of selfishness, I’d rather that safety were put ahead of political correctness … .

I’ll tell you what my dad told me and I told my kids…holding onto Spanish as your only spoken/written language in the US is a one way ticket to staying in the barrio all your life. You can not function in this country if you can’t speak and read English…and speak and read it at a high enough level to take a freaking driving test.

I agree with your point about the probable targets of this, and I also agree that you don’t need English in order to drive the roads (I don’t speak French and yet I have driven in France…nor do I speak German, yet I didn’t have to much trouble driving there either), but I don’t think we would be doing Spanish speaking residents (presumably US citizens) a favor by making it easier to cling to a language that is not and never will be part of the main stream in the US.

YMMV, but I think it sets a bad precedence.


There is a possible non-racist motive for this: Presumably, it costs the DMV money to get the test translated and printed in multiple languages. Obviously, we wouldn’t expect them to have tests available in Tagalog, Basque, or Coptic, and the same reasoning could be extended to not having tests available in Spanish, either.

Do I think this is the real reason? No, but it at least puts the veneer of plausible deniability on it.

Welcome to the real world, where immigrants quite often never learn the language of their new country very well. It’s the next generation that grows up fluent.

I would like to know what language this paragraph is written in. It uses English vocabulary, but follows no known laws of grammar.

Perhaps he shouldn’t be allowed driver’s license? :wink:

Not much. Hire one guy, maybe two to be sure, have him translate the book into the target language. Store the result digitally, print from laser printer as need be. Whats the problem?

I think it’s stupid, destructive, and racist. There are many legal immigrants in this country for whom English is not their first language, such as my wife. With the many trips she made to the Department of State to work through the citizenship process, go to school, hold down a job, be tutored in English at night, and study for the driving exam, it may not have been impossible for her to have taken the driver licensing exam in English, but it certainly would have added another level of unnecessary pressure which probably would have caused her to score less highly or possibly fail.

Why do people presume if someone has a low command of English it’s because they’re lazy or don’t want to learn? What, are immigrants supposed to wait years until their English is adequate to satisfy arbitrarily applied statutes before they’re able to participate in society?

What an idiot. Why am I not surprised that Jack Murphy’s a Republican? Has he ever seen a Spanish language driver license exam? The instructions to the exam taker are in Spanish, but the road signs and other street features and other graphics with associated text elements are in English as they exist on any American automobile thoroughfare. What this does is ensure the exam taker fully understands the question before selecting an answer. Providing the exam in Spanish should ultimately result in a better driver, not worse.

Is it not obvious that if you force an English only mandate for all driver license exams that a higher percentage of native Spanish speakers will guess at more of the questions than native English speakers, thereby ensuring higher failure rates among Hispanics? I think it is obvious to them. I think they’re counting on it.
ETA: And the Republican party wonders why it’s so difficult for them to woo and keep Hispanic voters.

I think it’s insulting to Hispanics. “We think you re too dumb to learn English, so we created a special test for you”. I feel the same way about ballots. It’s the United States, we speak English. In Portland the trolley instructions are given in Spanish and English. Really, how hard is it to learn “Exit to the Right/Left”? I’ve learned enough Spanish on the plane to Mexico to navigate the subways.

I’m not a huge fan of multiculturalism, so I don’t see a problem with the test being solely in English. After all, if I moved to France and wanted a Driver’s Licence, I wouldn’t be jumping up and down and demanding they find me a special English language test. It’s part of the deal when you move to a new country- you should at least try to learn enough of the local language for basic communication, IMHO.

Depends, would it add to public safety to allow non-English tests, or would that detract from public safety?

The latter, if anything. Increasing the number of unlicensed drivers, increasing racial tensions being two obvious reasons it could decrease public safety. And in what way could it enhance public safety, anyway? It seems to have little if any point but to harass immigrants.

Bad idea. Its clearly an attempt to “punish” illegal immigrants. They are going to drive anyway: I’d rather share the road with people who have taken and passed a driver’s test than people who couldn’t because they don’t speak English.

How the written test given in English only has anything to do with driving? Yes things like sign recognition should be given as they are on the street, which is in English, but how does asking the questions in English only show any more driving ability then in Spanish?

The issue has nothing to do with driving, but xenophobia and they are just trying to make life uncomfortable and difficult to people they don’t want to associate with.