If you can’t read or write, you can’t drive in Colombia: Court

On Wednesday, Colombia’s constitutional court ratified a law that mandates literacy as a requirement to obtain a driver’s license.

Before this ruling, drivers were not required to take a written test. Colombia’s Transport Ministry only required applicants to take a practical driving test, along with a basic physical exam.

But in 2010, the Inspector General urged the Ministry to additionally require a written driving test.

Act 1397, which is an amendment to the National Ground Transportation Code, states in the third article that all applicants “know how to read and write,” and “pass a practical and written driving test.”

Some groups reacted negatively to Act 1397 when it was first proposed. They called it an “unjustified restriction on the exercise of constitutional freedom to drive and move freely in a motor vehicle for people who can not read and write.”

The Inspector General told Semana magazine that, “If you can not read and write, you can not understand what the signs indicate, much less do as they say. Hence it is not possible to claim that it violates the right to equality by requiring all persons who want to obtain a license to drive a vehicle, among other requirements, the ability to read and write.”

According to Caracol Radio, this requirement “refers to a level of competence (…) and understanding of the vehicle code, traffic signals, manuals and operating instructions for motor vehicles, and written signs in the same vehicles transmitted to users.”

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