Archive for December 2010

New Jersey Atorneys Review Recent Supreme Court of New Jersey

NEW JERSEY LAWYERS REVIEW RECENT SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY RULING MANDATING USE OF DIFFERENT LANGUAGES IN PROVIDING MOTORISTS WARNINGS OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF REFUSING TO TAKE A BREATH TEST.

In a landmark decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, motorists now charged with refusal to take a breath test must be advised of the consequences of the failure to take the test in a language that is understandable to the motorist. According to the decision, motorists must be “informed” of the requirement to take the breath test and the harsh consequences that flow from a refusal to take the test, Such refusal, however, must be voluntary and made under circumstances which gives a court confidence that the motorist made a decision based upon an understanding of key facts contained in a previously only English version of the warnings given to all motorists prior to administration of a breath test. Any meaningful understanding is impossible if the motorist is unable to comprehend the language used to provide the warning. The Attorney General of New Jersey is already in the process of making the warnings available in several different languages. However, one estimate is that there are 150 languages other than English spoken in the State of New Jersey with Spanish being the most common. As a matter of fundamental fairness, the ability of the motorist to understand the warning prior to making an informed decision is critical.

Legal Quote of the Week:

The common law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky but the articulate voice of some sovereign or quasi-sovereign that can be identified……

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 221 (1917)