Zero Tolerance Law: Underage Drinking and Driving

The DWI/DWAI Zero Tolerance Law - Underage Drinking and Driving

In New York State underage drinking and driving is a serious offense. It is important to contact a skilled DWI defense attorney to protect your or your child's rights in cases of underaged drinking and driving.

At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP, our criminal DWI defense lawyers are prepared to appear in Court or at a DMV administrative hearing and fight for you. Our main goal is to protect you, your license and insurance rates. We are experienced Westchester Trial Attorneys.

The DWI Laws in New York State are as follows:

The DWI / DWAI Arrest

If you are under 21 years of age, driving and pulled over resulting in a DWI investigation, you will be taken to the local police department or State police barracks for the purpose of taking a chemical test to determine your BAC level.The chemical test is usually a breath test, blood test or urine test.

Once you BAC level has been determined you will be charged accordingly.

Administrative Hearing vs. Criminal Court for a DWI

The following is a breakdown of the Zero Tolerance Law in New York State:

  • If your BAC is .02% or more, but not more than .05%, you will be charged with the traffic offense of "driving after having consumed alcohol." You will then be provided with a notice to appear for a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • If your BAC is more than .05% but not more than .07%, the police will have the option of charging you with "driving while ability is impaired by alcohol" (DWAI).
  • If your BAC is more than .07% but less than .08% you will be charged with the offense of "driving while ability is impaired by alcohol" (DWAI), and for those with a BAC of .08% or more, the charge will be "driving while intoxicated" (DWI).

If you are charged with either DWI or DWAI, you will be arrested and dealt with in criminal court.

We provide a more detailed explanation of the Criminal Court Process here.

The DMV Administrative Hearing

The Hearing will be held at a local DMV office. You have the right to be represented by an attorney, the police officer will testify and you will have the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence on your own behalf.

During the DMV Administrative Hearing, the police officer must prove the following:

  • You were the person who operated the motor vehicle;
  • A valid request was made to submit to a chemical test (Breathalyzer);
  • You were younger than 21 at the time;
  • The chemical test was properly administered;
  • The test showed you had consumed alcohol (.02% or more); and
  • The police officer made a lawful stop of the vehicle.

If, after both sides have been heard, the police officer has carried his burden of proving the case, the administrative law judge will make a finding that you drove after having consumed alcohol.

The penalties include a 6-month license suspension, a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 suspension termination fee. Each additional offense will result in your license being revoked for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer, plus a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 license re-application fee.

License Revocation as a result of driving after having consumed alcohol

You will need to turn in your license to DMV, and it will be illegal for you to drive. At the end of the revocation period, you may apply for a permit and start the licensing procedure. This does not mean that you will have a new driving record. Any convictions you had with the license which was revoked will still be part of your driving record.

Alcohol and Driving equals: License Suspension

You will need to turn in your license to DMV, and it will be illegal for you to drive. Your license will be returned to you at the end of the suspension period.

If your license is suspended under the zero tolerance law, and you do not have any prior alcohol-related convictions on your license, you may be eligible for a conditional license. However, in order to receive one, you must enroll in and complete the Drinking Driver Program. A conditional license will allow you to drive back and forth to work and school, but it is not the same as a full license.

DWI and DWAI Legal Help

Driving While Ability Impaired or Driving While Intoxicated can have serious implications on your ability to drive in New York State or elsewhere.

It is important to contact a skilled DWI lawyer in New York State as soon as possible to protect your rights. Our attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP are former Assistant District Attorneys and use that experience to aggressively defend your case. We are Westchester County DWI lawyers also working in all Counties in lower New York.

Contact our Lawyers for a Free Consultation. Our office is always available regarding your DWAI/DWI case and can not only put your mind at ease but provide you with valuable information regarding your drinking and driving defense and your best options to proceed.