State v. Marquez

In January 2010, the ACLU-NJ filed an amicus curiae brief in the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of defendant German Marquez. Marquez had appealed his conviction for refusal to take a breathalyzer test at the scene of an accident in Union County on the grounds that the officer failed to properly inform Marquez of his rights. Marquez only speaks Spanish and was unable to understand the Plainfield Police Officer who informed Marquez of the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer in English. The officer was aware that Marquez did not understand English and made no attempt to inform Marquez of the consequences of his actions in which Marquez would understand. This was in violation of a New Jersey statute that requires that the consequences of refusal be provided to an individual before the individual can be cited for refusal. Since Marquez was unable to understand the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test, he was wrongfully convicted. The ACLU-NJ's amicus curiae brief focused on the denial of due process, and also pointed out the numerous other contexts (Miranda warnings, court proceedings, voter notices, etc.) where notice in other languages besides English is required so as to protect the rights of individuals. On July 12, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the police failed to properly inform Marquez (of the consequences of refusal to take a breathalyzer test) in a manner in which Marquez could understand. The Court agreed with Marquez and the ACLU-NJ that, for a valid conviction for refusal to take a breathalyzer to be upheld, police must disclose the consequences of refusal to take a breathalyzer test to an individual in a language he or she can understand.

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