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N.J. top court rules police must explain DWI test laws in native language

Renae

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TRENTON — Police in New Jersey must explain the state's implied consent law to motorists in a language that they understand, the state Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

In a 4-3 decision, the court overturned a conviction for refusing to take an alcohol breath test because the man, who spoke only Spanish, did not understand the consequences.

The court found that a Plainfield police officer failed to inform German Marquez, who is from El Salvador, in Spanish that he would automatically lose his driver's license for seven months if he refused the test.

Police had responded to a two-car accident in 2007. The officer initially asked in English for Marquez to show his license. When the officer repeated the request in Spanish, Marquez complied.
And why did this person even HAVE a NJ DL? Why because he was allowed to take the test in...

Marquez said he didn't understand what police were reading to him and that he had taken his driver's license exam in Spanish.
NorthJersey.com: N.J. top court rules police must explain DWI test laws in native language


The TEST SHOULD BE IN ENGLISH. That way the Police, if they need to stop you, can communicate with you. End of Story.
 

RyrineaHaruno

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Dude we are a society of many different languages not every one off the boat understands English, so in other words piss off we aren't going to have a national language. Is it so hard for conservatives to understand this?
 

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@ Mr. Vicchio -- I agree with the court's decision.

@ Ryrinea -- One doesn't have to have a national language to think it ought to be a requirement that people at least read English before they drive. That's not a Conservative bent. That's just good old common sense.
 

Crunch

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Dude we are a society of many different languages not every one off the boat understands English, so in other words piss off we aren't going to have a national language. Is it so hard for conservatives to understand this?
Dude....

One of the requirements for U.S. citizenship through naturalization is to take the naturalization test to demonstrate that you are able to read, write, and speak basic English and that you have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (also known as “civics”).
USCIS - Naturalization Test

So piss off about us not having a national language.... we do, and it's mandated by federal law. :roll:
 

ScottD

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First off the word basic comes to mind there. I don't think you can explain a DWI with just basic English as is probably implied by that law. Also, just because you must speak it does not make it our national language. In Japan you are required to be able to speak English, but that doesn't make English their national language.
 

Crunch

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First off the word basic comes to mind there. I don't think you can explain a DWI with just basic English as is probably implied by that law. Also, just because you must speak it does not make it our national language. In Japan you are required to be able to speak English, but that doesn't make English their national language.
I'll call BS on this..... link?
 

Crunch

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First off the word basic comes to mind there. I don't think you can explain a DWI with just basic English as is probably implied by that law. Also, just because you must speak it does not make it our national language. In Japan you are required to be able to speak English, but that doesn't make English their national language.
I'll also disagree that you can't explain with basic English the fact that if you don't blow into the little tube, you lose your license.... that's pretty basic English.
 

ric27

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So, foreigners are expecting us to learn their language, but refuse to learn ours. Supplying them with a translator all the time? lmao

Everyday that goes by that congress doesn't make english the official language- the farther down the slippery slope this country slides.
 

allsogreat

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First off the word basic comes to mind there. I don't think you can explain a DWI with just basic English as is probably implied by that law. Also, just because you must speak it does not make it our national language. In Japan you are required to be able to speak English, but that doesn't make English their national language.
Wasn't aware We're living in Japan...
 

Ikari

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Well on one hand it's nice to have people speak English. On the other, some immigrants never become nationalized so they wouldn't be required, and even if so some immigrants may be on their way to naturalization and learning the English language, but have not yet mastered it. Regardless, you can hardly throw a man into jail who doesn't understand why he's being thrown into jail. Maybe you have to make the arrest, but then when they are in the station have someone who is able to speak to them explain the nature of the crime. There are many police units in various parts of the country that know other languages so that they can more efficiently communicate with the community.
 

Ikari

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So, foreigners are expecting us to learn their language, but refuse to learn ours. Supplying them with a translator all the time? lmao

Everyday that goes by that congress doesn't make english the official language- the farther down the slippery slope this country slides.
There are far worse slippery slopes we currently find ourselves on than the necessity of a "national language".
 

ludahai

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Dude we are a society of many different languages not every one off the boat understands English, so in other words piss off we aren't going to have a national language. Is it so hard for conservatives to understand this?
The U.S. needs a national language. Police officers can't be expected to be able to communicate in every language that may be spoken by motorists that they stop.
 

ludahai

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First off the word basic comes to mind there. I don't think you can explain a DWI with just basic English as is probably implied by that law. Also, just because you must speak it does not make it our national language. In Japan you are required to be able to speak English, but that doesn't make English their national language.
English language skills in Japan are awful. I speak better Japanese than most Japanese speak English...
 

Deuce

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I think the court's decision was correct. Not because of the national language/not national language deal, but because convicting someone for "refusal" to take the test is stupid when they aren't aware you're asking them to take it. If a cop asks you a question in sign language, you shouldn't go to jail for not answering.

English language skills in Japan are awful. I speak better Japanese than most Japanese speak English...
English is one of the hardest languages to learn because it's based in so many different other languages, and the spelling/grammar/structure rules are completely inconsistent.
 
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ludahai

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I think the court's decision was correct. Not because of the national language/not national language deal, but because convicting someone for "refusal" to take the test is stupid when they aren't aware you're asking them to take it. If a cop asks you a question in sign language, you shouldn't go to jail for not answering.
So, you expect cops to speak EVERY language that may be spoken by everyone they pull over?!?!? Absurd...
 

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So, you expect cops to speak EVERY language that may be spoken by everyone they pull over?!?!? Absurd...
It'd be a simple matter of bringing them to the station and contacting their embassy who will be able to tell them what's going on.

What is more absurd is arresting people simply because they cannot comprehend what is being asked of them. It's a crappy situation but that's reality. Not everyone can speak the common tongue and the system needs to adapt, especially if we are still letting immigrants into our country for economic reasons.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

EDIT: In Canada there are two official languages but the system still offers many translations of documents and services in other languages. Immigrants tend to reside in or near urban centres so it's not a stretch of resources to find someone who speaks their language.
 
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ludahai

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It'd be a simple matter of bringing them to the station and contacting their embassy who will be able to tell them what's going on.
We are talking about a DWI test. YOu take them to the station, contact their embassy/consulate (which may not be staffed at the particular point in time we are talking about) all in the meantime, the suspect is sobering up. DWI tests are time sensititive. The longer you wait, the more you lose the usefulness of the test.

What is more absurd is arresting people simply because they cannot comprehend what is being asked of them. It's a crappy situation but that's reality. Not everyone can speak the common tongue and the system needs to adapt, especially if we are still letting immigrants into our country for economic reasons.
No, in this case, the immigrants need to adapt.

EDIT: In Canada there are two official languages but the system still offers many translations of documents and services in other languages. Immigrants tend to reside in or near urban centres so it's not a stretch of resources to find someone who speaks their language.
We are not talking about documents, we are talking about a time sensitive test
 

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We are talking about a DWI test. YOu take them to the station, contact their embassy/consulate (which may not be staffed at the particular point in time we are talking about) all in the meantime, the suspect is sobering up. DWI tests are time sensititive. The longer you wait, the more you lose the usefulness of the test.
All embassies have emergency lines that are 24/7. It's not hard to get help. I've used them and so have many people I've traveled with. It's their job to be available all the time. Most people immigrating to the U.S. ostensibly have this information.

No, in this case, the immigrants need to adapt.
What makes you think they aren't trying to already? I am tired of the anti-immigrant spin on here for every single story that comes up. In my first year in China, it took me at least 9 months to start talking at a comfortable level and to comprehend what people were saying to me, and I was there legally and studying hard. I think so few people comprehend that not all immigrants are lazy, inconsiderate people who are here to leech off our wealth. Many come here with earnest intentions which include learning the language, and it's not easy.

I agree with the court ruling. If the person cannot understand the test due to a language barrier then that should not imply their guilt.

We are not talking about documents, we are talking about a time sensitive test.
A test that could turn ugly if the person doesn't understand what is happening, especially if the cop tries to proceed anyway.

The rights of the individual are paramount, especially when dealing with police. If the cops can't convey the situation to the person then they need to get someone on the line who can.
 

ludahai

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All embassies have emergency lines that are 24/7. It's not hard to get help. I've used them and so have many people I've traveled with. It's their job to be available all the time. Most people immigrating to the U.S. ostensibly have this information.
So, let's see... You take the guy who CLAIMS not to speak English to the station, call the embassy/consulate, get a hold of someone who can explain the situation to the perp, who then can give informed concent. Let's say an hour has passed in the meantime. Do you think the DWI test will show the same reading as it would have if the driver were administered at the time he was seen weaving on the road? Answer this honestly.


I agree with the court ruling. If the person cannot understand the test due to a language barrier then that should not imply their guilt.
It isn't about guilt. It is about administering a test in a timely fashion to see if someone is indeed violating sobriety laws or not.

A test that could turn ugly if the person doesn't understand what is happening, especially if the cop tries to proceed anyway.

The rights of the individual are paramount, especially when dealing with police. If the cops can't convey the situation to the person then they need to get someone on the line who can.
In this case, public safety trumps. Administering a sobriety test on the road violates no rights. Driving a car is not a right, it is a privilege. You abuse it, you lose it. You DWI, then you lose it. Take him to the station, notify the embassy/consulate and he registers a .07 instead of a .09... that is wrong...
 

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So, let's see... You take the guy who CLAIMS not to speak English to the station, call the embassy/consulate, get a hold of someone who can explain the situation to the perp, who then can give informed concent. Let's say an hour has passed in the meantime. Do you think the DWI test will show the same reading as it would have if the driver were administered at the time he was seen weaving on the road? Answer this honestly.
My honest answer would be that, in light of the court ruling, the justice department will have to somehow implement an efficient system for solving this problem, and the details of that are beyond my knowledge because it's not my expertise. Where there's a will, there's a way, and I sincerely doubt it would take a long time to accomplish.

It isn't about guilt. It is about administering a test in a timely fashion to see if someone is indeed violating sobriety laws or not.
It is precisely about guilt, given that the man in the OP had his license removed for seven months, all because the root of the problem was that he didn't understand what was going on.

You can't force someone to take the test which is why the automatic revoking law exists, but in this case he didn't understand what was being asked of him and so there needs to be an alternative procedure in place for such circumstances.

This entire case is about the system seeing an obvious flaw and adapting to change it for future reference.

In this case, public safety trumps. Administering a sobriety test on the road violates no rights. Driving a car is not a right, it is a privilege. You abuse it, you lose it. You DWI, then you lose it. Take him to the station, notify the embassy/consulate and he registers a .07 instead of a .09... that is wrong...
Again, you can't force someone to take the test. That would be unconstitutional. Your claim about public safety is bunk given that refusal means you are taken off the road anyway. The guy had his licensed revoked. Once again - in case it's not clear - I will say that this is about a particular type of incident not covered by standard procedure, so the system needs to examine it and make a modification, as it always does when something new happens.
 

digsbe

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So does this mean every cop must be bi-lingual? My personal opinion is that everything be conducted in English, but because New Jersey allows Spanish Driver's tests, they should also accommodate Spanish speaking drivers when they are pulled over. I would say having a Spanish recording that explains the consequences or having a Spanish text they can read should suffice.
 

ludahai

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So does this mean every cop must be bi-lingual? My personal opinion is that everything be conducted in English, but because New Jersey allows Spanish Driver's tests, they should also accommodate Spanish speaking drivers when they are pulled over. I would say having a Spanish recording that explains the consequences or having a Spanish text they can read should suffice.
This is not limited to Spanish. What about Russian? Mandarin Chinese? Vietnamese? Etc. this could get rediculous...
 

digsbe

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This is not limited to Spanish. What about Russian? Mandarin Chinese? Vietnamese? Etc. this could get rediculous...
I would say if they allow the driving test to be taken in another language outside English, then the cops should also accommodate them with basic things. Personally I would support all of it being only, but in New Jerseys case I have to agree with the court ruling based on their current laws.
 

ludahai

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My honest answer would be that, in light of the court ruling, the justice department will have to somehow implement an efficient system for solving this problem, and the details of that are beyond my knowledge because it's not my expertise. Where there's a will, there's a way, and I sincerely doubt it would take a long time to accomplish.
What justice department are you talking about? This is a state ruling, not federal. The federal justice department has nothing to do with this.

It is precisely about guilt, given that the man in the OP had his license removed for seven months, all because the root of the problem was that he didn't understand what was going on.
Guilty of what? You know having a driver's license is not a RIGHT, it is a privilege...

You can't force someone to take the test which is why the automatic revoking law exists, but in this case he didn't understand what was being asked of him and so there needs to be an alternative procedure in place for such circumstances.
I believe a police officer ought to have the right to administer the test if he has reasonable suspicious you are DWI. If you refuse, you lose your license -- and it should be longer than seven months. And if you don't understand English and thus the officer, tough crap. The U.S. can't accomodate every language on the planet in such a situation. This is about public safety.

This entire case is about the system seeing an obvious flaw and adapting to change it for future reference.
Change it how? Have police officers who can speak every language on the planet? Even the late Pope John Paul II couldn't do that, and he was quite the polyglot...

Again, you can't force someone to take the test. That would be unconstitutional. Your claim about public safety is bunk given that refusal means you are taken off the road anyway. The guy had his licensed revoked. Once again - in case it's not clear - I will say that this is about a particular type of incident not covered by standard procedure, so the system needs to examine it and make a modification, as it always does when something new happens.
Standard procedure being?!?!? He should have had his license revoked.
 
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