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Zero Tolerance DWI in New York

Young people under 21 are not permitted to even possess an alcoholic beverage. Therefore, the penalties are different for people under 21 years old who drive after having consumed alcohol even if they are not impaired or intoxicated. New York has adopted a “zero tolerance” law for young people who consume any measurable amount of alcohol before driving.

The “Zero Tolerance” Law in New York took effect on November 1, 1996. The Zero Tolerance law applies to any driver under age 21 who drives a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more but not more than .07%.

If a police officer stops a driver under 21 and suspects that the young person has consumed an alcoholic beverage, then the officer can temporarily detain the driver to take them to the police station for a breathalyzer test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol level (BAC).

If the young person under 21 years old refuses to take the breath test, then the driver will be subject to a license revocation of at least one year.


Types of Zero Tolerance Consequences for the Driver under 21 Years Old

The different types of zero tolerance consequences for the driver under 21 years old include the following:

  •  .02% or more but not more than .07% then the officer can allege driving after having consumed alcohol (a zero tolerance violation) at the Administrative Hearing in Manhattan;
  • more than .05% and less than .08% then the officer can alleged driving while ability is impaired by alcohol (DWAI) in the Criminal Court in Manhattan;
  • .08% or more then the officer can allege Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the Criminal Court in Manhattan. 

Driving after Having Consumed Alcohol

If the BAC is .02% or more, but not more than .07%, the the driver will be charged with “driving after having consumed alcohol.” The driver is provided with a notice to appear for a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Manhattan.

If a young person under 21 receives a citation for “driving after having consumed alcohol” then the driver should immediately retain an attorney to fight to invalidate the suspension at the administrative hearing.

1st Offense

Six month suspended license; 
$125 civil penalty; and
$100 fee for suspension termination.

The driver might also be required to enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) and install an ignition interlock device.

 

2nd Offense

License revocation for 1 year (or until the driver’s 21st birthday); 
$125 civil penalty; and
$100 fee for suspension termination.

The driver might also be required to enroll in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) and install an ignition interlock device.


Driving While Ability is Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI).

If the driver’s BAC is more than .05% but not more than .07%, the police will have the option of arresting the driver and charging the driver with the criminal offense of “driving while ability is impaired by alcohol” (DWAI).


Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

If your BAC is more than .07% but less than .08% the driver will be arrested and charged with the offense of “driving while ability is impaired by alcohol” (DWAI).

If the driver has a BAC of .08% or more, the officer will typically be arrested and charged with “driving while intoxicated” (DWI).


The DMV Administrative Hearing For a Driver Under 21 Years Old

For the driver under 21 years old charged with having operated a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol, the criminal defense attorney will schedule the DMV administrative hearing. At the hearing, the officer must prove the following: 

  1. the driver operated the motor vehicle;
  2. the officer made a valid request that the young person submit to a chemical test (usually on a breathalyzer);
  3. the driver was younger than 21 at the time;
  4. the chemical test was properly administered;
  5. the test showed a BAC of .02% (or more); and
  6. the officer made a lawful stop of the vehicle.

You are entitled to hire an attorney to represent you at the hearing. The attorney can subpoena witnesses and present evidence. At the hearing the administrative law judge will determine whether the evidence is sufficient to uphold the suspension.

If the young person fails to attend the hearing, then a temporary suspension will occur although the driver can attempt to reschedule the hearing. An official waiver will waive your right to a hearing and will result in a suspension or revocation.


The Results of the Administrative Hearing for Zero Tolerance Violations

If the suspension or revocation is upheld, then at the very least the driver’s license will be suspended for six months and the driver will be required to pay a civil penalty of $125. The driver must also pay an additional $100 fee in order to have the license reinstated.

A charge for driving after having consumed alcohol will remain on the driving record for three years or until the driver is 21, whichever is longer.

A second offense will lead to a revocation for one year or until the driver turns 21, whichever is longer.


The License Revocation after a Suspension or Revocation

The driver will turn the license over to the DMV. After the revocation period ends, the driver can apply for a permit and start the licensing procedure.

If the license is suspended under the zero tolerance law, and the driver does not have any prior alcohol-related convictions, then the driver may be eligible for a conditional license.

Before the driver can apply for a conditional license, the driver must enroll in and complete an approved Driver Program. A conditional license allows the driver under 21 years old to drive to work and school.


Additional Resources

New York’s Zero Tolerance Law for Under 21 Drunk Driving – Visit the website of the State of New York to find information on the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee – SafeNY. Learn more about New York’s Zero Tolerance Legislation for drivers under 21 years of age who drive after consuming alcoholic beverages.


Attorney for Under Age 21 Drunk Driving in Manhattan

If you were cited for any type of zero-tolerance violation including driving after having consumed alcohol (a zero tolerance violation) at the Administrative Hearing or driving while ability is impaired by alcohol (DWAI) or Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the Criminal Court in New York County (Manhattan).  

Call an attorney at Greco Neyland, PC to discuss your case and ways to resolve the case for the best possible terms.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 27, 2016.

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