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Old 07-19-2008, 04:37 PM
 
1,730 posts, read 4,339,481 times
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An Alabama truck driver that has been driving for over 20 years, and had not committed any illegal infractions, was stopped by a police officer and given a $500 ticket because "he did not speak English well enough." The trucker states that he understood the policeman perfectly, but that he has a heavy-accented speech. Do you think this is a fair law given the fact that people from other countries WILL HAVE different dialects, and do you think this person was treaty fairly. Remember, he committed no traffic violation, and was profiled by the police. I realize that one has to have enough knowledge of the English language in order to understand the signs, but he passed the drivers' test, go figured. I have a slightly-accented speech, since I am foreign born, and speak several languages. But according to how that police officer interpreted my speech that could have been me, if I happened to be in Alabama. What is your opinion? These are the times that I am so GLADDDDD, I LIVE IN NEW YORK|!
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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I think he can go to court and have it the ticket remove..
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
878 posts, read 2,492,226 times
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He should be able to fight it if he can prove that he can communicate in English to a judge. This is a federal law though so it can happen anywhere in the US not just Alabama. The sad thing is that depending on where you are stopped will probably determine if you get a ticket. In New York, we are so accustomed to hearing different dialects when someone is speaking English it does not bother us. It would be interesting if someone with a heavy southern dialect is stopped out west or up north and receive the same kind of ticket because that particular officer does not understand them.
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Old 07-19-2008, 10:17 PM
 
Location: East Village, NYC
217 posts, read 816,989 times
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Good law. "Federal law requires that anyone with a commercial drivers license speak English well enough to talk with police."

More from the story, it wasn't the "southern accent."

Last edited by Viralmd; 07-20-2008 at 08:22 AM.. Reason: copywrite issue
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
878 posts, read 2,492,226 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fubar_bohica View Post
I didn't mean it was the southern accent or that a southern accent was involved at all. Based on what I read about this incident and the federal law, a trucker has to speak English well enough to talk with police. Too me, that leaves the determination to whomever you are speaking with. If I was a policeman, and I didn't understand someone speaking English with a heavy accent, then I can ticket them. With that I would guess that if I can't understand someone speaking English with a heavy southern accent, then I can ticket them too. It does not state that the police are only allowed to ticket an immigrant, as the police can only assume who is an immigrant and who was born in America. It says nothing about understanding English or that a determination has to be made by 2 or more police. For example, I believe this truck driver was Mexican. If someone was on the police force that was a Mexican-American, it is likely that they would be able to understand his accent fairly well, as they may be accustomed to it so he would not have been ticketed. The law itself seems as if could be applied arbitrarily and it appears to be targeted towards immigrants, which too me appears to be unfair since I would assume they are working as a trucker legally and have followed all the rules to be able to obtain their CDL.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:53 AM
 
10,626 posts, read 20,759,553 times
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That link didn't work. But I found another one.
Speak English well, or get a ticket | ajc.com (http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2008/07/20/truckers.html - broken link)

It seems to me this law is coming from a homeland security type of perspective. But cops will be cops and sometimes they get power hungry. This ticket did not sound deserved, The guy says he speaks English at a 3rd-grade level which seems sufficient to communicate with a police officer about what is in his truck.
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:03 AM
 
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Default Wonder what the rationale was behind that law...

obviously a trucker and his/her vehicle can create logistical issues affecting traffic in an area and this can be a danger. But I've also seen some idiot drivers of tiny Hyundais almost run over innocent pedestrains in NYC who have the right of way at crossings.

Here it's sometimes not a language issue but a cultural one - a lot of these drivers come from some countries where the guy in the car is king and pedestrians must genuflect and give them the right of way.

I guess the law is well-intentioned but I can see where law enforcement officials with their own personal baggage can exploit the good intentions in a biased way.
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:43 AM
 
10,626 posts, read 20,759,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles View Post
obviously a trucker and his/her vehicle can create logistical issues affecting traffic in an area and this can be a danger. But I've also seen some idiot drivers of tiny Hyundais almost run over innocent pedestrains in NYC who have the right of way at crossings.

Here it's sometimes not a language issue but a cultural one - a lot of these drivers come from some countries where the guy in the car is king and pedestrians must genuflect and give them the right of way.

I guess the law is well-intentioned but I can see where law enforcement officials with their own personal baggage can exploit the good intentions in a biased way.

So you don't think the law was generated by homeland security concerns? Just one more way to exert control and be able to investigate what is inside those large trucks? I'm sure the homeland security people are looking to root out the "foreign" terrorists who might load a truck with explosives and blow up a bridge or something. I suspect homeland security is much more worried about people from foreign countries doing this and not so worried about home-grown Americans doing this, though there have certainly been examples of the latter.

I could be wrong about how the law came into being, but it does sound very post 9-11 to me and not just about traffic safety.
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:52 AM
 
3,225 posts, read 7,497,556 times
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Default You could be right, Henna...

I'm worried about the possibility of unjustified bias in the law's application..but it's probably the price for our security.
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:19 AM
 
10,626 posts, read 20,759,553 times
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I don't actually see how this law will help our security -- especially since speaking good English and wanting to blow up bridges in the US are not mutually exclusive . . .but it did seem to me like something homeland security would have dreamed up. And now the law is being mis-applied.
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