Ala. Judge Rejects English-Only Driver License Exams

A judge ruled Thursday that offering driver's license exams in a dozen languages is not in violation of a 1990 amendment to the state constitution, which declares English the official language of Alabama.

Circuit Judge William Shashy said the amendment "makes English Alabama's official language — not its only language."

His ruling came in a suit filed against the state by a nonprofit group called "ProEnglish," which says the test should only be administered in English. The group argued that the Alabama Department of Public Safety's practice of allowing tests in multiple languages violated the state constitution and endangers all drivers.

Attorneys for the state said limiting the test to only English would violate federal anti-bias law because it would have a "disparate impact" on non-English speakers.

Shashy noted that about two dozen states had declared English their official language but that none "refuses to accommodate a limited English proficient person in their driver license examinations."