Should Maryland Require Translation of DUI-Test Consent

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German Marquez, is a Salvadorian who was charged with failing to submit to a breath test in New Jersey. He successfully appealed his conviction in the state Supreme Court because he was read the statement warning him of the penalties he faced if he did not submit to a breath test only in English. The ruling of the state Supreme Court essentially levels the playing field for non-English speaking residents to that of English speakers. Until now, in Maryland and Virginia, drivers are deemed as having given implied consent to a breath test as a condition of being on the road. The American Civil Liberty Union feels that the prior lack of a translation policy meant non-English speakers were being held to a "higher standard" of being expected to memorize what is in the driver's manual. The ACLU has compared the need for translation of consent to a breath test to the need of translating Miranda rights and court proceedings, which the state's courts do provide.

In New Jersey, drivers who don't speak English must be informed of the consequences of refusing to take an alcohol breath test in a language they understand. In the 4-3 decision, Chief Justice Rabner wrote, "In essence, reading the standard statement to motorists in a language they do not speak is akin to not reading the statement at all." As of now, Maryland and Virginia don't require translations of DUI-Test Consent. The New Jersey ruling will hopefully lead to a quick change in Maryland and Virginia.

Using the language a person speaks benefits not only that individual person but the police work as well. If you have been pulled over for a DUI or other traffic violations and are a non- English speaker you should immediately contact your attorney and protect your rights. Simply because you speak Spanish, Chinese or Korean doesn't mean you should be held to a higher standard while driving on the road. The police department should have DUI consent forms in Spanish, Korean and Chinese readily available.

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