JULY 13, 2010
The case involves a suspected illegal immigrant (German Marquez) arrested for driving drunk in 2007 after rear-ending a car in Plainfield. Marquez appeared intoxicated and the police officer on the scene smelled alcohol on his breath. For decades
Marquez, who is currently in jail for an unrelated drug conviction, claimed that he did not understand the arresting officer’s instruction that the breath test is legally required because he speaks only Spanish. No state, including
In its 4-3 ruling,
The ruling vacated Marquez’s refusal conviction and its seven-month license suspension though it did not affect the drunken driving conviction and its three-month license suspension. It also directs the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission and Attorney General’s office to create methods to inform non-English speakers about the breath-test law.
In anticipation of the ruling, the Attorney General’s office has translated the law’s 11-pararaph instruction statement in nearly a dozen languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian and Portuguese. This will prevent another drunken driver from utilizing the no-English defense.
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