State to revamp driving test procedure after 4 On Your Side investigation
Posted at: 08/31/2012 8:58 AM
| Updated at: 08/31/2012 9:45 AM
By: Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side
Thousands of driving tests given to foreign language speakers in New Mexico are being called into question after a 4 On Your Side Investigation.
Over the past six years, Turner Driving School in Albuquerque has offered customers the state driving test in at least 18 foreign languages.
But 4 On Your Side has learned that officials at the Motor Vehicle Department or Department of Transportation may have never reviewed any of the translations to see if they were valid.
The school in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights is not accused of doing anything illegal, but declined to comment on camera. Managers at Turners say they had the tests professionally translated.
Our 4 On Your Side investigation has also shown every commercial driving school in New Mexico, including Turners, had been administering driving tests for years on expired contracts with the MVD with most contracts expiring around 2006.
When asked about oversight of the tests, Secretary of Tax and Revenue Demesia Padilla said they discovered there was none.
“As it stands today there is no oversight from our department of the different programs they have purchased to do the language translations,” Padilla told KOB.
Under New Mexico state law, a person applying for a drivers license can either go to the MVD or a commercial driving school to take a state driving test. Upon completion they can be issued a New Mexico license with proof of residency.
New Mexico does not require applicants to prove that they are in the country legally.
After KOB’s probe, the state said it will redo and implement new contracts with the private businesses.
They’re also planning to authorize eight languages for driving tests to be taken on private software that will standardize testing. Those languages are English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Italian, German and Cantonese.
Padilla said offering the test helps people who are more comfortable speaking in their native language.
“If we can support that and there is a way that we can verify it, I'm not sure where the harm is,” Padilla said.
But, KOB has learned that state still will not be offering native languages to new drivers.
"I do not think they support Navajo at the time so we would not be able to issue it in Navajo," Padilla said.
The new contracts will go into effect September 4th.