Fox falsely claims NJ is “forcing its police officers” to speak foreign languages

Distorting a New Jersey court case, Fox & Friends repeatedly claimed that the state may be forcing police officers “to speak foreign languages when they arrest people.” In fact, the Court ruled that non-English speaking DWI suspects must be informed that they are required by law to submit to breath tests in a language they can understand, which can be done through audio recordings or interpreters, not through a mandate that officers speak foreign languages.

NJ Supreme Court reverses conviction for refusal to submit to breath test

Court determined Marquez was not informed of penalties for refusing breath test since he did not understand English. New Jersey resident German Marquez was convicted of driving while impaired and of refusing to submit to a breath test. Marquez challenged the second conviction, stating that he did not understand the officer's statement at the time of arrest that he was required by law to cooperate with the breath test. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on July 12: "[I]t is undisputed that Marquez does not speak English. As a result, the officer's reading of the standard statement to him in English failed to inform him of the consequences of refusal. The Court therefore reverses his refusal conviction without reaching Marquez's constitutional due process claim."

Court ruled that effort must be made to ensure non-English speakers are informed of the implied consent and refusal statues. From the decision:

If people do not hear or understand English, some other effort must be made. Providing a written document to hearing-impaired individuals in a language they understand will ordinarily suffice. For non-English speakers, the Court defers to the MVC [Motor Vehicle Commission] to fashion a proper remedy with the assistance of the Attorney General. The Court acknowledges that the Attorney General has already taken substantial steps, having informed the Court that it has arranged for certified translated versions of the standard statement to be prepared, in both written and audio form, in the nine foreign languages in which the MVC offers the written driver's test. The MVC is charged with determining what to do about the small percentage of additional motorists who would not be covered by this development. Given the need to collect samples quickly and the large number of potential languages involved, the Court understands it is not practical to expect that interpreters will be available on short notice and it does not construe the statutes to require that approach.

Police can use recordings, which are translated in 10 languages and are posted on state website. The Star-Ledger reported on July 12:

The majority decision acknowledged that the Attorney General's office has already moved to translate instructions about the test into other languages.

In April, the state recorded them in 10 languages -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, and Spanish -- and posted the recordings on a state website, where police can play them for suspects before breath tests."

Fox falsely claimed NJ is forcing police officers “to speak foreign languages when they arrest people”

Fox & Friends: "[P]olice officers here in America may soon be forced to speak foreign languages when they arrest people."Teasing a segment on the court ruling, Gretchen Carlson stated: “No English, no problem? Why police officers here in America may soon be forced to speak foreign languages when they arrest people.” Doocy later stated in a second teaser: "[I]n America, is English becoming a second language or a third language? Well one state close to my heart actually forcing its police officers to speak the language of the suspect they are arresting no matter what the language is. You've got to hear this."

Kilmeade eventually notes that in fact, recordings could be used. During a segment on the court ruling, Carlson stated that “now the cops in New Jersey have to be able to do the drunk driving breathalyzer instructions in 10 languages.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade noted: “I think they all have it on tape, correct? So, hey drunk man, drunk woman, listen to this and react accordingly.” Nevertheless the on-screen text during the segment said: “Law forces police to speak alternate language” :

Despite this, Carlson later repeats false claim that “cops could be forced to learn a foreign language.” Despite the fact thatKilmeade previously noted that recordings would be used, Carlson later stated that “cops could be forced to learn a foreign language” :

CARLSON: No English, no problem. Even if you get pulled over in the United States, why cops could be forced to learn a foreign language, or at least pay a tape recording of a bunch of them right here in America.

Carlson falsely suggested Marquez did not “get in trouble” for drunk driving

Carlson: You might think someone “stopped for drunk driving might actually get in trouble. But no. Now he decided to file a lawsuit.” From the July 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: Some might think that somebody who is living in this country not legally and, as a side note, does not speak the language and is stopped for drunk driving might actually get in trouble. But no. Now he decided to file a lawsuit. And the result is that now the cops in New Jersey have to be able to do the drunk driving breathalyzer instructions in 10 languages. ... Is that crazy or what?

In fact, Marquez did not appeal his DWI conviction. As USA Today reported on July 12, “Marquez's conviction for driving while impaired is not being appealed. He received a three-month license suspension and was fined $600.” Marquez only appealed his conviction for refusing to submit to a breath test, which was a separate charge.

Carlson baselessly claimed Marquez “is living in this country not legally”

Carlson claimed Marquez is an illegal immigrant. From the July 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: Some might think that somebody who is living in this country not legally and as a side note does not speak the language and is stopped for drunk driving might actually get in trouble. But no. Now he decided to file a lawsuit.

Marquez' lawyer said he had driver's license and, to the best of his knowledge, was a legal immigrant. In a phone conversation with Media Matters, Michael Blacker, the attorney who represented Marquez, said that to the best of his knowledge, Marquez was in the United States legally. Moreover, Blacker noted that Marquez had a New Jersey driver's license. Illegal immigrants are reportedly ineligible for driver's licenses in New Jersey.