The New Jersey Supreme Court made an important ruling recently about the need for non-English speaking DWI offenders to understand the process of a breath test and potential repercussions for refusing it. Previously, there was no requirement for officers to translate or even try to deliver an understandable summary of the laws. Now, that has changed.
The case that made it to the state Supreme Court involved a non-English speaking man who was suspected of DWI. It was explained to him, in English, that refusing a breath test could result in additional charges and penalties. He didn’t understand and refused to take the test.
The court ruled that the suspect needs to understand the consequences of refusing. This means police will have to find ways to get the language they use translated in a manner that can be understood. According to USA Today, there are several options available for officers including a website and telephone number that can be accessed, providing an audio translation of the consequences.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) argued that Spanish speaking drivers cannot be expected to remember what was in the driver’s manual regarding breath tests while English speaking drivers are reminded when they are pulled over on suspicion of DWI. They pointed out that Miranda Rights and other such notifications are required to be translated as should be this notification.
Refusing to take a breath test is a serious matter. For your first offense, you will have your license suspended for 6 months. If this isn’t your first time, you could lose your driving privileges for up to 2 years for a second offense or 10 years for a third. This is in addition to any penalties you face for the DWI.
Though DWI’s are quite common this doesn’t mean they are any less serious. If charged with a DWI, you are looking at jail time, fines, and the loss of your license. When facing these charges, you need an attorney on your side willing to fight tirelessly in your defense.
If you are up against DWI charges, call me today. I can give you a free consultation and we can discuss the best way to handle your case.