'English-only' resolution for drivers angers critics

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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GWINNETT, Ga. - Critics of a so-called "English-only resolution" working its way through the Georgia Senate, say it will deny thousands of Georgians their rights.

The proposal would, among other things, mandate the state offer drivers' license written exams only in English.

"All official documents would be in English as well as they should be," State Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

Balfour has introduced a resolution that would allow voters to amend the Georgia constitution, declaring English the state's official language. 

Doing so would bring major changes to the Department of Driver Services.

"This is the kind of thing that would impact every single Georgian. It violates law and it's completely unnecessary,” said Helen Ho of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center.

Currently the state offers the written driver's license exams in English, plus 11 other languages. The English-only amendment would eliminate those offerings.

"When you stop at the stop sign its says ‘Stop’," Balfour said. "We're in America and the test should be in English."
Kavanaugh checked with the DDS. All road tests and signage tests are already English only. The written exam is the only portion where test takers have language options.

"This is the principal form of ID that people carry and we're talking about people that are U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents,” Ho said.

Ho said this amendment will have consequences beyond the road.

“How are they going to learn English if they can't drive to an English class?” she asked. “How are they going to survive if they can't drive to a job?"

"It's already state law. This would put it in the Constitution," Balfour said.

Balfour said it's a decision voters should make.

This resolution could land on a ballot. First, it needs a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate.



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