Many Hispanics who would like to take to Oklahoma's highways
and byways often find a linguistic stop sign barring their way to
a driver's license.
But Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma is changing that with
publication of a free Spanishnguage study guide for those
Hispanics who want to take the state driver's test.
Stan L. Foster, Legal Aid director, said Hispanics constitute
the largest nonglish speaking group in Oklahoma. And, he says,
the lack of a way to teach them the laws and regulations
affecting driving was "a real serious problem for individuals and
"Here we have people who need a driver's license to survive,"
Foster says. "If they don't have a license, one, it's because
they don't know the laws and regulations and, two, they're going
to drive anyway and put us all at risk."
Various groups had been trying for years to make the Oklahoma
driver's study manuals available to those speaking Spanish. Legal
Aid also had been working to have the driver's examinations given
in Spanish and "about a decade ago we had litigation that we
thought had settled the issue," Foster says.
He said a 1991 survey found that 34 states give driver's exams
in Spanish. Although the Department of Public Safety began
providing the written test in Spanish in November, a
Spanisheaking applicant must bring an interpreter for the driving
"They claim they do not have the bilingual staff to make this
work as it ideally should work," Foster says. "This at least
gives them the mechanism for taking the test. Previously, the
state wouldn't even allow that."
But there still are no stateovided study materials in
"We haven't had the funding to do a driver's manual in
Spanish," says Lee Lamirand, public information director for the
department. "It is nice that Legal Aid has done this."
Lamirand said no figures were available on how many applicants
had made use of the written test in Spanish.
Foster points out that the Legal Aid publication "is not the
manual" put out by the Department of Public Safety. To translate
the manual and print it with all its illustrations "would have
been nice, but it was a more ambitious project than we could
afford," Foster says.
Instead, he says, the 15-page study guide put out by Legal Aid
is "intended to provide similar information as the manual, but to
do it in question and answer form."
A grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation enabled
Legal Aid to publish 2,000 of the guides. Teresa A. Rendon, Legal
Aid farm worker attorney, translated the material for the study
Foster said Oklahoma is visited yearly by large numbers of
itinerant farm workers, many of them Hispanic, who either come to
the state for the harvest or who pass through on Interstates 40
or 35 en route to other states. …