Speaking Spanish Is Not a Crime (Yet)
Dallas ticket for not speaking English called a rookie mistake
06:28 AM CDT on Friday, October 23, 2009
A Dallas rookie police officer erred when he cited a woman earlier this month for being a non-English speaking driver, police said.
Officer Gary Bromley issued a citation Oct. 2 to 48-year-old Ernestina Mondragon after stopping her for making an illegal U-turn in the 500 block of Easton Road, near East Northwest Highway, according to a copy of the citation.
"That's a charge that does not exist here in the city of Dallas," said department spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell. "Although we believe it was a sincere mistake ... there's no excuse for it."
He said that charge and a charge of failure to present a driver's license were dropped.
Bromley, 33, is a trainee officer in the Northeast Patrol division. His trainer on the date the ticket was issued was Senior Cpl. Daniel Larkin, 53, said Deputy Chief Tom Lawrence, Northeast Patrol commander.
Under the Dallas City Code, taxi drivers must be able to communicate in English. Mitchell said there is also a federal statute that says commercial drivers must speak English, but it would not have applied in this case.
Mondragon's daughter Brenda Mondragon said her mother was rushing to take her younger sister to school that day and did not see the "no U-turn" sign. Records show Ernestina Mondragon has a driver's license, but her daughter said she had forgotten it. She said her mother, a native Spanish speaker, speaks limited English.
"She was very mad; she was very upset," Mondragon said of her mother's reaction. "We ended up taking her to the [emergency room] because she was nervous; she was just stressing over the ticket."
- Stephen M. Smith