Tennessee House Bill Would Require All Driver’s License Tests to Be Administered in English

A new bill introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly would require drivers wishing to obtain Tennessee driver’s licenses to pass a test administered only in English.

HB 1730 “requires all written driver license examinations to be administered in English only; prohibits use of a translation dictionary, electronic device, or interpreter to assist with the examination,” according to the summary of the bill.

State Representative Kip Capley (R-Summertown) introduced the bill.

“The safety of our roads is a collective responsibility we all share,” Capley told The Tennessee Star Friday. “Every driver should be capable of reading, interpreting, understanding, and appropriately reacting to traffic signs or dangers that can occur on our roadways. Anyone who can’t do that is a safety hazard to themselves and everyone else, just as someone who is driving impaired.”

The bill already has a Senate counterpart, SB 1730, sponsored by State Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).

SB 1730 was filed for introduction Thursday and passed on first consideration.

According to a group called ProEngish, which bills itself as “The Nation’s Leading English Language Advocates,” there are only two states that offer driver’s license tests in English only. Those states are Wyoming and South Dakota, the group says.

“California is the state that offers its driver’s license exams in the most languages, as it has 32 different language options available,” according to the group. “Massachusetts ranks 2nd by offering its driver’s license exams in 26 different languages.”

State officials have implemented bilingual street signs in many places across the country, particularly near the northern and southern borders.

Near the southern border, the second language on those signs is typically Spanish, while near the northern border, the second language on the signs is typically French.

More recently, there has been a push to include Native American language translation on street signs in areas where many Native Americans live, or where there are Native American reservations.

Such is the case in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New York, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, according to a news article from 2023.

That trend is part of a “growing push around the country to use Indigenous translations on signs to raise awareness about Native American communities.”

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter.
Photo “Driving Test” by Oregon Department of Transportation.CC BY 2.0.





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3 Thoughts to “Tennessee House Bill Would Require All Driver’s License Tests to Be Administered in English”

  1. lb

    It is INSANE to issue a DL in ANY language but English. When we lived in Paris for 3 yrs, my husband had a company car. The 1st year he was allowed to use his US DL (Ga) . After 1 yr, the requirement was he HAD to attend a Driver’s Ed class (IN FRENCH ONLY) and then take the test (IN FRENCH ONLY) in order to be able to drive. He did and has a French DL for life now.
    We, as a Country, have lost our minds catering to people who want to live here but cant be bothered to learn English in order to communicate and assimilate.

  2. Concerned

    Makes sense, traffic signage is in English. Driving isn’t a right, it is a privilege.

  3. Jay

    Should be everywhere school included.