Manuel Castillo was driving through the wonderful state of Alabama headed home to California after picking up a load of onions when he halted for a state inspection. An Alabama state trooper did not think Mr. Castillo could speak English in the same proper manner as do those inhabiting the fair state of Alabama so he handed the Californian a $500 ticket for misuse of the English language. Mr. Castillo said he understood the state trooper’s questions about where he was heading and he knew enough to produce his commercial driver license and registration. He responded to all questions in English although he does speak with an accent.
Mr.Castillo was not speeding and the computer check of his vehicle did not reveal any violations of law. Federal law requires anyone with a commercial license to speak English well enough to talk with police and last year about 25,000 tickets were issued for those without proper English language skills.
As one who has lived and taught in Missouri for thirty five years I think they would issue me tickets for improper English language skills because of my New York City accent. Of course, my response to my students invariably is, “You Missourians just don’t know how to speak proper English.!” I believe the same holds true of anyone from Alabama.