Saturday, December 3, 2011

DUI Conviction Overturned Because of Interpreter

A judge in Washington State has tossed out a DUI conviction against a deaf man. Five years ago, William Kral of Snoqualmie, who lost his hearing at the age of nine months from meningitis, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and driving with a suspended license. During his arraignment, Kral was not provided a certified ASL interpreter. Instead, a Spanish language interpreter who knew some sign language interpreted for him. Kral ended up signing a paper waving his right to a speedy trial. Kral says he thought he was agreeing to a temporary delay in his trial. Instead, Kral got a nine month sentence and ended up paying some $4600 in fines. An appeals court ruled this summer that Kral's rights were violated because he was not provided a qualified interpreter. The case was then sent back to Benton County District Court. Thursday, the conviction was overturned and the case dismissed. The judge also ordered the state to return the money Kral had paid in fines.

1 comment:

RustyShackleford said...

I think this was the correct result. After all, an essential element of due process is that the defendant understand the charges against him. I don't see how that's possible without a translator, when the defendant can't understand (or, in this case, hear) spoken English.