Underage Drivers & New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

Aggressive and Skilled DWI Lawyers Located in Westchester County

Our aggressive and skilled Westchester County DWI lawyers have represented numerous underage drivers who have been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI) and the traffic offense of "driving after having consumed alcohol". In all instances, it is absolutely vital for an underage driver to have legal representation at every stage as the consequences for an underage driver can be devastating to their lives and future. We understand the consequences and we obtain excellent results for our clients.

What is New York State's "Zero Tolerance" Law?

The Zero Tolerance law applies to a person under age 21 who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more but not more than .07%. If a person under the age of 21 is stopped by a police officer for having consumed alcohol and the police officer determines that the person appears to have consumed alcohol, the police officer has the right to detain that person for the purpose of giving them a breathalyzer test. If that person refuses to take the breathalyzer test, the person will be subject to a license revocation of at least one year.

Results of the Breathalyzer Test for Underage Drivers

If the underage driver's BAC is .02% or more, but not more than .07%, they will be charged with the traffic offense of "driving after having consumed alcohol." They will then be provided with a notice to appear for a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles. See "The DMV Administrative Hearing" below.

If the underage driver's 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). This will require the underage driver to appear in criminal court and they will face the same penalties and consequences as a driver 21 years or older. Please visit our DWI and DWAI Penalties page for more information.

If the underage driver's BAC is more than .07% but less than .08% they will be charged with the offense of "driving while ability is impaired by alcohol" (DWAI). This will require the underage driver to appear in criminal court and they will face the same penalties and consequences as a driver 21 years or older. Please visit our DWI and DWAI Penalties page for more information.

If the underage driver's BAC is .08% or more, they will be charged with the crime of "driving while intoxicated" (DWI). This will require the underage driver to appear in criminal court and they will face the same penalties and consequences as a driver 21 years or older. Please visit our DWI and DWAI Penalties page for more information.

The DMV Administrative Hearing

If an underage driver is charged with having operated a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol (BAC of .02% or more, but not more than .07%) and are scheduled for a DMV administrative hearing the police officer has the burden of proof and must prove that:

  1. The underage driver was the person who operated the motor vehicle;
  2. A valid request was made to submit to a chemical test (e.g., breathalyzer);
  3. The chemical test was properly administered and showed that the underage driver had consumed alcohol (.02% or more); and
  4. That the police officer made a lawful stop of the underage driver's vehicle.

The underage driver will be entitled to provide evidence in his or her defense, including any witnesses and is entitled to have an attorney represent them at the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the administrative law judge will make a finding. If the administrative law judge makes a finding that the police office met their burden of proof then, at the very least, the underage age driver's license will be suspended for six months and they will have to pay a penalty of $125.

In addition, in order to have their driver's license reinstated after the six months the underage driver must pay an additional $100 fee in order to have their license reinstated. If an underage driver is with having driven after having consumed alcohol, the charge will remain on your record for three years or until you are 21, whichever is longer. If the underage driver has any prior alcohol-related traffic offenses on their record, their driver's license will be revoked for one year or until they reach the age of 21, whichever is longer.

Conditional License

If an underage driver's license is suspended under the zero tolerance law, and they do not have any prior alcohol-related convictions on their license, they may apply for a conditional license with the DMV. This will require that the underage driver enrolls in and completes an approved Driver Program. The conditional driver's license will permit the underage driver to drive back and forth to work and school ad is not the same as a full license.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation

If you are an underage driver who has have been charged with the traffic offense of "driving after having consumed alcohol", DWAI or DWI we are here to protect your rights and your driver's license. Contact us online or by telephone at (914) 840-5104 to speak with a Westchester County DWI lawyer.

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