Missouri House Approves English-Only Driver’s License Exams

On Thursday, the Missouri House gave overwhelming approval to legislation that will require the written portion of the driver’s license exam to be administered only in English. Currently, a person can request the written test in one of 11 other languages.

The House approved HCS HB 1186 and 1147 on a vote of 93 yes, 63 no and 7 absent. The vote can be found in the House Journal of Feb. 23. Refer to page 417.

Under present law, although a person may request a written exam in, say, Spanish, they still must pass the driving part of the exam and demonstrate ability to read and understand all traffic signs before they can obtain a driver’s license.

The MCC opposed the legislation. If the legislation becomes law it will make it more difficult for legal citizens who may not read English well to drive to work or attend English language classes.

Privately, a number of legislators expressed concern with passing the bill, but they indicated their constituents strongly supported it. Hearts and minds will need to change before better outcomes in the general assembly can be expected.

The bill now moves to the Missouri Senate. A similar bill passed the House last year and then was filibustered and died in the Senate.

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