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NJ High Court Rules on Breathalyzer Warnings

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New Jersey’s Supreme Court had decided that if you’re pulled over for drunk driving and refuse a breathalyzer test, you have to be told of the consequences — in a language you can understand.

KYW’s David Madden reports that the case stems from a 2007 incident in Plainfield, NJ, with a driver who spoke Spanish.

breathalyzer NJ High Court Rules on Breathalyzer Warnings

(File photo)

The officer initially conversed with the driver in his native tongue but advised him of the consequences of refusing the breath test in English.

The justices determined, 4-3, that the driver couldn’t understand those ramifications — even though you consent to those tests when you get a driver’s license in the state.

Rutgers University law professor Robert Williams believes this case turned on a pretty simple question:

“What does it mean to inform somebody of the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer test? The court looked at definitions, and ‘inform’ means to impart knowledge.”

The state is already in the process of providing law enforcement personnel with audio and written warnings in nine different languages that should cover 90 percent of New Jersey drivers.