The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the drunk driving conviction of a man who said his language barrier prevented him from understanding his rights. A state trooper stopped Jose Lopez-Pena in Greene County for driving 84-miles-an-hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone, and then started administering sobriety tests after smelling alcohol.
The trooper said Lopez-Pena did not have any trouble understanding his instructions and said in English he would consent to an alcohol breath test. The trooper allowed a passenger in Lopez-Pena’s car to translate the consequences of failing the test and Lopez-Pena again said he would consent.
The trooper said Lopez-Pena refused to speak English after failing the test and being told he was under arrest. The officer read him his Miranda rights in English and handed him a card with the rights spelled out in Spanish. Lopez-Pena appealed his arrest saying the trooper should have had the consent and Miranda information read to him in Spanish.
The Appeals Court upheld the conviction, ruling the trooper made a reasonable effort to inform Lopez-Pena of the consequences involved with the breath test. And that he understood his rights after being arrested because he refused to speak and made no statement that could be used against him.
See the full ruling here: Lopez-Pena ruling PDF