Critics say the bill unfairly targets immigrants and refugees.
The new bill introduced Wednesday would require those taking a drivers test to speak or read and write English.
Republican State Representative Harold Brubaker of Randolph, who introduced the bill with Rep. Julia Howard of Iredell, says the bill will make the roads safer and save taxpayers’ money.
"If you speak Chinese or Russian and can't read our signs and can't speak English, it's an absolute safety issue, and I think that needs to be addressed," Brubaker told WRAL-TV. "People getting driver's licenses in North Carolina should be able to speak English."
The Division of Motor Vehicles currently offers the written driver's tests in 10 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Opponents say the legislation would hurt legal residents, political refugees, foreign exchange students, and even U.S. citizens who have limited English skills.
In 2006, the N.C. legislature voted to make it impossible for illegal immigrants to renew their driver's licenses.
The bill is similar to ones being considered in states such as Georgia and Tennessee. In Alabama, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James said if he is elected he will order state driver license exams be given in English only.
One of James’ campaign ads states: "This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it."
STATES OFFERING TEST ONLY IN ENGLISH:
* New Hampshire
* South Dakota