Man fights Hawaii to take driver's exam in native language

A man who speaks Hawaiian wants to be able to use the language to take his driver's license exam.

Hawaiian is considered one of the state's official languages, yet Daniel Anthony says he's unable to use it to conduct business with state agencies.

Court records show that Anthony has made 28 traffic court appearances since 1997 so he could go to court and demand to be heard in Hawaiian, Reuters reported. This most recent infraction in January was over an expired license. He said he made five attempts to renew it at the  Department of Motor Vehicles, but he was laughed at by officials when he spoke the language, the report said.


KITV reports that his attorney filed a motion to dismiss Anthony's traffic case of driving without a license. Attorney Dexter Kaiama claims Hawaii's courts don't have jurisdiction over native Hawaiians and that the state constitution upholds the Hawaiian language.

John Rosa, an assistant professor of history at the University of Hawaii, told Reuters that the case is part of a movement to revitalize the traditional Hawaiian language.

"You can't live in Hawaii without speaking Hawaiian. Our everyday language is littered with it," Anthony, 35, told Reuters. "But use it formally and you're shunned in our official community."

His traffic case has been continued until later this month.

"I truly believe that the work I am doing will make a stronger Hawaiian community in the future, will give value to the language they are trained in and will hopefully help them prosper," Anthony said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report