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Breaking News:  N.J. Supreme Court Requires Police to Advise Motorists of D.W.I. Rights in Own Langu

On July 12, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court published its decision and opinion in the case of State v. German Marquez.  In State v. Marquez, the high court held that the police must explain to motorists the consequences of refusing to take a breath test in the language the person speaks or understands.  In other words, “no intiendo” is a defense to the charge of refusing to take a breath test.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has announced a new rule of law in D.W.I. refusal cases.  In the case of State v. Marquez, the court imposed a new requirement on law enforcement by requiring police officers to advise a D.W.I. suspect of their rights and obligation to take the breath test in their native language when the suspect does not understand the instructions when given in English.

The Defendant Marquez was involved in a motor vehicle accident.  The officers who arrived on the scene spoke to Mr. Marquez first in English, which he did not understand.  The officers then spoke to Mr. Marquez in Spanish, which he did understand.  After a few minutes at the accident scene, the police arrested Mr. Marquez and transported him to the police station to take a breath test.

At the police station, the officer read the standard form statement to Mr. Marquez.  ("The Division of Motor Vehicles Standard Statement for Operators of a Motor Vehicle--N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2").  The officer read the form to Mr. Marquez in English.  The statement advises a motorist that “cooperating with a breath tests is required by law, the right to an attorney does not apply to taking breath samples, resposnes that are ambiguous will be treated as a refusal, and refusing to consent is a violation that results in license revocation.”

Mr. Marquez did not take the breath test, and was charged with refusing to take the breath test.

He was convicted in the municipal court.  The Law Division and the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction.


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