What Minors Should Know About DWI Charges in New York
Drinking and driving gets handled a little differently in New York when the defendant is a minor. A minor defendant isn’t just running up against DWI laws. They’re running up against Zero Tolerance Laws, as well.
The New York Zero Tolerance Law sets a legal BAC limit of just 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21. The theory behind the law is that minors should not be drinking at all, let alone getting behind the wheel of a car. In addition, statistics do indicate that drivers under the age of 21 are far more likely to get into an accident even at BAC levels lower than the adult’s 0.08%.
Remember, it may take an underaged driver far fewer drinks to reach 0.08% than it would an adult. It’s also impossible to say “how many drinks” any person can safely consume before getting behind the wheel of a car, as it can depend on food, medications, weight, overall health, and a host of other factors.
However, you will not necessarily be charged with a DWI if your BAC is above 0.02%. If it’s at less than 0.05% the charge becomes violating the Zero Tolerance Law instead.
If you are convicted you could lose your license for six months and will be required to pay an $125 fine, so long as this is your first offense. If you refuse the test entirely then you’ll lose your license for one year and may still be required to pay a fine.
Zero Tolerance law violations are handled via an administrative hearing. There are still several ways an attorney could defend you during that hearing. Primarily, the defense can revolve around questioning a few key facts:
- Was the stop lawful in the first place?
- Was the BAC test request proper?
- Were you actually driving the vehicle?
- Was the test administered correctly?
If your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.06% then you’ll be facing DWAI charges, or Driving While Ability is Impaired charges, which are misdemeanor charges. A DWAI charge happens for adults when their BAC is above 0.08% but when there is evidence that the defendant’s driving ability is still impaired.
You will definitely need a lawyer in either case if you want to mitigate the consequences of your arrest.
Obviously it’s better to avoid drinking at all if you’re a minor. Still, everyone makes mistakes. With the help of a good criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to recover from these mistakes before they go on to impact the rest of your life.