- July 29, 2010
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New ruling in NJ benefits drivers who fluently speak another language. Drivers stopped for DUI in New Jersey have the right to refuse to give a breath sample. Although refusal comes with automatic penalties, the penalties may be less severe than the DUI charge depending upon the circumstances.
The police officer is required to provide notice of the consequences of breath-test (Alcotest) refusal. Recently, a refusal conviction against a motorist in NJ was reversed due to the fact that the officer did not give notice of consequensce in a language understood by the motorist.
The purpose of notice requirements in statutes and regulations is exactly that- notice to the individual. If the individual being provided notice does not understand the notice provided then the legislative intent is defeated.
Of course this brings about problems for the prosecution in proving DUI matters as, while the specific language spoken by the detainee is ascertained and translators are sought and summoned to the site where the alcotest, or even field sobriety tests which are certain to be the next cases litigated as to the language requirement, the blood alcohol content diminshes at a rapid rate.
The individual claiming not to understand English bears the burden of proof so merely claiming not to understand may result in further legal trouble if a trial occurs and police investigation reveals otherwise. However, in the event of a true failure to understand there is an opportunity for the motorist to prevail.
For more information on DUI or other motor vehicle matters in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.