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N.J. Supreme Court rules DWI test laws must be explained in suspect's native language

Monday, July 12, 2010

N.J. Supreme Court rules DWI test laws must be explained in suspect's native language Published: Monday, July 12, 2010, 12:31 Jeff Diamant/The Star-Ledger TRENTON -- New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled today that police must inform drunken driving suspects in their native language that they are legally required to take a Breathalyzer test. The 4 to 3 decision written by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, stemmed from the case of German Marquez, who was charged with driving drunk when he rear-ended another car near a Plainfield intersection on Sept. 20, 2007. Marquez, who speaks only Spanish, did not understand an officer's instructions in English that he was required by state law to take a breath test to determine if he was intoxicated, his lawyer said. Marquez's conviction for drunken driving remains intact after the Supreme Court decision. But his conviction for refusing to take a breath test was vacated. Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote a separate decision joined by two other justices, Helen Hoens and Roberto Rivera-Soto, dissenting in part and concurring in part. They argued that the majority's decision undercuts the state's implied consent law, which requires that drivers submit to breath tests. The majority decision acknowledged that the Attorney General's office has already moved to translate instructions about the test into other languages. In April, the state recorded them in 10 languages -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, and Spanish -- and posted the recordings on a state website, where police can play them for suspects before breath tests. Previous coverage: . N.J. Supreme Court to consider if police must give DWI instructions in native language . Police should translate DWI instructions into Spanish, N.J. court recommends . Court rules Motor Vehicle Commission should translate for drunken-driving suspects © 2010 All rights reserved.

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