Does New York Have a Zero Tolerance Law?

Shots of alcohol on a bar top next to cocaine and car keys

Yes, New York has had a Zero Tolerance Law since 1996. The law applies to drivers under age 21 who operate motor vehicles with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% to 0.07%. You might have noticed that this threshold is lower than the legal limits for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI).

Because people under 21 are not legally allowed to drink, in the first place, they cannot drive a car with any level of BAC without consequences.

What Are the Penalties for Violating New York’s Zero Tolerance Law?

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), violating the Zero Tolerance Law will result in a $125 civil penalty and at least 6 months of license suspension. Drivers must also pay $100 to terminate the suspension. If a driver under 21 violates the Zero Tolerance Law more than once, they can lose their license for 1 year or until they reach age 21.

There is no maximum jail term for drivers who violate the Zero Tolerance Law because penalties for this specific offense do not include jail time. Drivers who refuse a chemical test will face a $300 civil penalty, a one-year license suspension, and a $100 re-application fee.

Violating the Zero Tolerance Law results in the charge of “driving after having consumed alcohol,” which can be settled in an administrative hearing as opposed to criminal court.

Of course, the Zero Tolerance Law only applies to drivers with a BAC of 0.02% to 0.07%. Underage drivers can also be charged with DWI if their BAC is 0.08% or higher and DWAI if their BAC is above 0.05% and under 0.08%.

An underage DWAI can result in 15 days behind bars, up to $500 fines, and a 1-year license suspension, and a DWI can result in up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, a mandatory alcohol evaluation, and a 1-year license suspension.

How Do Younger Drivers Navigate Courts?

In Zero Tolerance cases, DMV commissioners decide whether the driver is guilty of the charges against them. In DWAI and DWI cases, younger drivers must go to court and appear in front of a judge and/or jury.

Drivers under the age of 21 are not shown mercy by commissioners or courts. Conversely, the courts may be harder on them because underage drinking and driving is such a huge problem in New York – and because the young driver should not have been drinking at all.

The Zero Tolerance Law does not include special considerations for teen drivers or drivers under 18, either.

For all the reasons above – and many others – younger drivers (and their parents) need help navigating administrative hearings and criminal courts.

Foley Griffin, LLP can help young drivers who have been arrested or accused. Our team knows that you (or your child) are innocent until proven guilty, and we will treat you and your family with dignity and respect.

Our firm has been handling cases like yours since 1997, and we prepare every case as though it will go to trial. If you are looking for the best possible representation, and the best possible results, look no further than Foley Griffin.

Call us at (888) 966-8480 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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