Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Judge Patricia McCullough has ruled that the state can no longer continue to suspend drivers’ licenses for refusal to submit to drunk driving tests when there’s an “insurmountable” language barrier supported by substantial evidence.
The case stems from a longstanding Pennsylvania law that enforces an automatic one-year license suspension any time a person suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs refuses chemical testing that’s being sought to confirm their level of impairment.
McCullough said that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or police departments must develop ways to ensure that all drivers understand the consequences of refusing tests regardless of the languages they speak.
McCullough said that the court recognizes that it’s not possible for police departments to have officers who speak many different languages on duty at all times. She said the court also understands that providing interpreters on demand might not be possible in all cases.
“However, because we may not disregard the need to provide motorists with the ability to make a knowing and conscious choice to submit to a chemical test, it would be prudent to develop a solution to the problem,” McCullough said. “Our duty is simply to uphold the determination of the trial court where its finding of an insurmountable language barrier is supported by substantial evidence.”
Read Full Article from Patriot-News (PA) (01/05/22)
Author: Thompson, Charles
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