Tennessee offers driver license tests in 5 languages, but most widely spoken languages aren't included

Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 08, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Getting a drivers license is essential to getting around in Nashville, but community organizations say the driver's test in Tennessee isn't accessible to everyone.

"I know some people like go for their drivers license test like 20 times, some of them 50 times, yeah they don't pass because the language," Nashville resident, Hazhi Almizori, said.

Stories like these are far too common, according to Joseph Gutierrez with the newly formed coalition Our State Our Languages.

"Tennessee is lagging behind and that's really one of the key reasons we are trying to think about advocating for this now. So we know Kentucky offers it in more languages than we do, so does Georgia, so we're really thinking about how does our state really stand in the forefront and being like welcoming to immigrant communities and also even large businesses that are coming here to Tennessee," Gutierrez said.

Six organizations are working to expand access and they've launched a petition to garner support.

"I think for individuals you know what it means to be able to drive your family to school or be able to get to the grocery store and back without having to wait 3 hours at a bus stop," Gutierrez said.

Currently the state's driving test is offered in English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and German.

According to census data, Arabic and Mandarin top the list for most common languages spoken in Tennessee. But neither is offered as an option on the test.

For the Arabic-speaking community in Nashville, the push to add languages offered in the state's driver's license test is not new.

The hope is that after years of advocating for changes, 2023 brings about a different result.

"It's better, make it easy for a lot of people, especially the seniors," Almizori said.