Zero Tolerance Against Underage Drinking and Driving

April 6, 2022


New York has a strict Zero Tolerance Law against drinking and driving for those individuals under the age of 21. The law applies to all persons under the age of 21 who operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) of not less than 0.02% and no more than 0.07%. Safety NY describes the reason behind the 0.02% and not 0.00% as being the legislature’s decision to “address only those young people who had willfully consumed alcohol and operated a motor vehicle.”

Opened bottle of wine in car passenger seat

The Legal Process

Safety NY created a chart in laying out what happens to you based on your Blood Alcohol Level. If you have a BAC between 0.02% and 0.07%, it is a “zero tolerance violation” and it is likely you will face an administrative hearing before an administrative judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles. During your hearing, it will be determined whether your license will be suspended. During an administrative hearing the police officer has several things they must prove in order to determine that you were driving after consuming alcohol. The following must be proved:
1. “You were the person who operated the motor vehicle;”
2. “A valid request was made to submit to a chemical test (e.g., breathalyzer);”
3. “You were younger than 21 at the time;”
4. “The chemical test was properly administered;”
5. “The test showed you had consumed alcohol (.02% or more);” and
6. “The police officer made a lawful stop of the vehicle”

After the officer presents his case, you are entitled to provide evidence in your defense. Additionally, you may provide witnesses, and even be represented by an attorney at the hearing. Because the hearing is administrative and not criminal, you are not entitled to a public defender. Once the judge hears both sides, he or she will issue a finding. If the judge determines that you were in fact driving after consuming alcohol, you could lose your license for up to six months if it was a first Zero Tolerance violation. Failure to attend the hearing will result in a temporary licenses suspension. (although you can reschedule).

If your BAC is more than 0.05% and less than 0.08% the police then have the option of chagrining you with driving while ability is impaired by alcohol (DWAI), in which case you would face charges in Criminal Court. If your BAC is more than 0.07% but less than 0.08% you will be charged with a DWAI, whereas if your BAC is 0.08% or more then you will be charged with a Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”). In either case “you will be arrested and dealt with in criminal court.

We Are Here To Help You

If you got a DWI in Syracuse, or anywhere in New York, speaking with an attorney is a great place to start. If you or someone you love have been charged under the Zero Tolerance Law, it is important you understand the charges you face. Even if you have questions regarding what will happen to your son or daughter if they get a DUI before the age of 21, the lawyers at DWI GUYS are experienced and qualified in assisting you. Contact us today!

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for The DWI GUYS are located at 231 Walton Street, Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: 1-800-DWI-TEAM. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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