Media Contact

Ariella Sult, Director of Communications, asult@aclu-in.org

December 5, 2019

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has agreed to translate the Driver’s Manual into Arabic, Burmese, Chin, and Mandarin by March of 2021, in a settlement that resolves a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in November 2018.

The suit was brought by Neighbor to Neighbor Inc., a South Bend non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance to international refugees and other recent immigrants in the area. In the lawsuit, the ACLU claimed that the BMV’s failure to provide the Indiana Driver’s Manual in any language other than English or Spanish constituted discrimination on the basis of a person’s national origin.

For an individual to obtain a new driver’s license in Indiana, they must first take a written “knowledge examination” and then pass a “driving skills exam.” The knowledge examination itself is offered in 14 different languages, while the Driver’s Manual is currently offered only in English, and as of earlier this year, Spanish.

As part of the settlement, the BMV agreed to translate the Driver’s Manual into any language in which it offers the knowledge examination “if, during three consecutive years, an average of 500 or more different persons took the ‘knowledge examination’ in that language.” Under the latest three-year statistics, Arabic, Burmese, Chin, and Mandarin, in addition to English and Spanish, meet this threshold for translation.

“We are thrilled to have been able to work with the BMV and its attorneys to ensure that the Driver’s Manual is available in many of the languages spoken by Indiana residents,” said Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana Senior Staff Attorney. “This change will make it easier for all Hoosiers to fully assimilate as members of their communities.”

“I am so thankful to the BMV,” said Andrea Cramer, Neighbor to Neighbor Executive Director. “By doing this good work, they are helping to ensure better safety for all Hoosiers and are lessening barriers for our newest neighbors.”

Moving forward, the BMV will conduct a review of the previous three-year period to determine whether any additional languages meet the threshold for translation by March 31st of each year.  Electronic copies of all translated versions of the Driver’s Manual will be available through the BMV’s website.

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