TRENTON – The state’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that police need to inform suspects in their native language that they are legally required to take a Breathalyzer test.
The court rendered a 4 to 3 decision overturning German Marquez’ conviction for failing to submit to a breath test. Marquez was charged with drunk driving when he rear-ended another car near a Plainfield intersection on Sept. 20, 2007.
Marquez, who only speaks Spanish, did not understand the officer’s English instructions that he was required to take a breath test to determine if he was intoxicated.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote, “In essence, reading the standard statement to motorists in a language they do not speak is akin to not reading the statement at all.” Since the required statement was not communicated, the court determined that Marquez’s conviction was invalid.
The court did not overturn Marquez’s conviction on the drunk driving charge.
The Attorney General’s office is already translating the instruction statement and has made recording in ten languages available to police.
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