English Only Licenses

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A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges Alabama's policy of offering driver's license exams in multiple languages. The suit seeks a court order to give the tests only in English.

The non-profit Southeastern Legal Foundation filed the suit against Governor Bob Riley and Department of Public Safety Director Mike Coppage on behalf of five Alabama residents.

Alabama previously stopped offering the exam in other languages in 1990, when state residents approved an amendment naming English
as Alabama's official language.

Then-Governor Don Siegelman reinstituted multi-lingual tests after a federal court ruled that English-only exams violated discrimination provisions in the Civil Rights Act.

The U-S- Supreme Court later reversed that decision.

But the state never changed its policy. It currently offers tests in 14 languages, including English and sign language.

The plaintiffs say it's unconstitutional to offer multi-lingual tests because English is the official language.

But a Southern Poverty Law Center attorney says English-only tests could discourage foreign businesses from coming to Alabama and cost the state millions.