Year’s of liberal appointments to the bench have sent many men and women who have more of a political ideology than a sense of proper jurisprudence. The results have produced decisions which dictated policies such as mandatory amounts of money the state must pump into failing school districts, a mandatory number of low income housing that every municipality must construct and in one case they even ruled that the state Democrat Party could ignore election law and the state constitution and replace losing candidates with winning candidates just days before an election takes place.
But the latest decision to come out of the state’s liberal legal cabal promises to open up a can of worms that will surely undermine law enforcement and the New Jersey criminal justice system.
In a case that originated three year’s ago, a Spanish “only” speaking, New Jersey man by the name of German Marquez, was involved in an accident. At the scene, police officers authorized a breathalyzer test and the Spanish Speaking driver who caused the accident refused. He was subsequently prosecuted for both driving under the influence and refusing to take a breathalyzer test.
Three year’s later, while never contesting the fact their client was driving while intoxicated , they did argue that he could not be charged with refusing to take the breathalyzer test because he does not understand English.
In a 3 to 4 decision the New Jersey State Supreme Court agreed and declared that the order for a breathalyzer test must be made in the native tongue of the accusers.
There are over 150 different languages spoken in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas that New Jersey lies smack in the middle of and now because of one drunk driver law enforcement officers in New Jersey must have access to and knowledge of all 150 plus, of those languages in order to do their job effectively.
From my perspective, it is incumbent upon the driver to learn English not incumbent upon the officers to learn more than 150 languages. I also can’t help but wonder how a person who can not understand English is allowed to drive on roads that issue direction and information in English. The issue begs the question of should we now print and post all these signs in 150 different languages?
This all comes back to a longstanding pet peeve of mine. Why does America not yet have an official language? I have long been a strong proponent of English First, Not Only” legislation that would make English our official language. I believe that an official language in a nation as admirably diverse as ours will help promote better communication and understanding. In the case of German Marquez it surely would have helped him to know that in order to drive, he should understand English and the signs that inform of the road regulations he should be abiding by.
But as for the specific decision in the Marquez case, something that the 4 person majority of the New Jersey Supremes did not factor in were other aspects of the law. Specifically the implied consent laws in which there is a guarantee that permission for a breathalyzer test is held to exist in the law, especially if rational attempts are made to explain the consequences of refusing such a test. But based on the claim that Marquez did not know this, the New Jersey Supreme Court for all intents of purpose, apologized and forgave Marquez for not conducting America’s local law enforcement operations in a foreign language.
For their part, the ACLU filed a Amicus brief that defended Marquez’s position of ignorance, which in America is no excuse for breaking the law. In that brief, the ACLU claimed that non-English speaking drivers are “held to a higher standard of remembering their prior study of the driver’s manual” than are English speaking drivers and this amounts to unfair treatment. I will leave you to answer for me how reading in Spanish, the words “you can not drive while drunk” is less memorable to a Spanish speaking person than it is for an English speaking person who reads those same words in English?
In the end, despite the court’s ruling, Marquez wont be driving much. He is currently serving time for unrelated drug charges. But his case has made it possible for literally hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants to claim ignorance as an excuse for avoiding charges when driving recklessly on the endless maze of roads laced through the most densely populated state in the nation.