Underage Drinking and Driving
DWI Attorney Buffalo NY
Recently, New York has been cracking down on underage drivers operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol. Dubbed the “Zero Tolerance” law, New York has enacted strict penalties which apply to any driver under the age of 21 that is caught driving after having consumed alcohol.
While these penalties for underage DWIs and alcohol-related offenses in New York can be very serious, our skilled DWI Attorney in Buffalo NY can help minimize the long-term damage these charges may cause to a young life. Call us today for a FREE consultation and discover how we can help protect your rights.
New York’s Underage Driving Laws for Alcohol-Related Offenses
New York enacted harsh penalties for any driver under the age of 21 that decides to drive with even a tiny amount of alcohol in his or her system. This is often called an “Underage per se DWI.” Per se essentially means “it speaks for itself” and implies that the law doesn’t require proof of impairment; only that the driver was under the age of 21 and had the requisite amount of alcohol in their system.
That amount of alcohol for underage drivers is a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) of .02% or greater – but lower than .08%. If an underage driver is caught with a BAC between .02% and .08%, he or she can be charged with violating the Zero Tolerance law.
However, if the underage driver’s BAC was between .02% and .05%, he or she will not be charged with a misdemeanor (AKA, will not be charged with a crime). Instead, the driver will be referred to the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. During this hearing, the judge will decide whether a Zero Tolerance violation occurred.
What must be proven at an underage per se Zero Tolerance hearing in New York?
At the DMV hearing, the judge will determine if a Zero Tolerance violation occurred. This means that the police officer must prove that the vehicle was stopped lawfully, that the individual was actually driving the car, that the individual was indeed under the age of 21 at the time of the offense, that the Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) test request was properly made, that the BAC test was given to the individual properly, and that the underage driver’s BAC was actually over .02% at the time he or she was driving the vehicle (or at the time the BAC test was refused).
What are the penalties for violating the Zero Tolerance Law in New York?
If the administrative law judge determines that a violation of the Zero Tolerance law in New York occurred, the driver will lose his or her Driver’s License for Six (6) months. If the driver is underage and refused a breathalyzer test, the Driver’s License will be removed for One (1) year.
The above assumes that the driver’s BAC was between .02% and .05%. However, if the underage driver’s BAC was between .05% and .08%, the police have the discretion of charging the underage driver with a Driving While Ability Impaired (“DWAI”) and/or common law Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”). Finally, if the underage driver’s BAC was more than .08%, he or she will be charged with a DWI under both the Per Se and common law.
Buffalo DWI Lawyer Defending You Against Underage Drunk Driving
The penalties for underage DWIs and alcohol-related offenses in New York are serious and complex. However, our experienced DWI Lawyer in Buffalo NY can help you deal with underage DWI and Zero Tolerance issues, and can help minimize the long-term damage these charges may cause to a young life. Call us today for a FREE consultation and discover how we can help protect your rights.