Understanding New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

Understanding New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

The BAC for adults is 0.08%. If you’re a minor in New York and you get behind the wheel of a car, you might be surprised to learn that your legal limit is much lower at 0.02%.


The reason is the New York Zero Tolerance Law. Since it’s illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink in New York it is also illegal for them to drive.


Yet the amount of alcohol in your blood does determine what you will be charged with.


Less than 0.05%: Violation of the Zero Tolerance Law


You won’t face criminal charges or a court trial. There will be an administrative hearing to determine whether you violated the law.


You can view a FAQ about these hearings by visiting this link.


During this hearing, the state has to prove the traffic stop that lead to the charges was lawful. It also has to prove that the request for a BAC test was proper, that you were actually under the age of 21 at the time of the stop, that you were driving the vehicle, and that the test was administered correctly.


If you are found guilty of violation of the Zero Tolerance law then you can lose your license for six months and be fined $125 for a first offense. The results of these hearings may be appealed in certain cases.


o.o5% to 0.08%: DWAI


If your BAC was above 0.05% then you can be charged with Driving While Ability is Impaired. It’s not a DWI charge but it is still a misdemeanor charge.


It comes with jail time and mandatory fines. For alcohol this is 15 days, and a fine of up to $500. It also comes with a 90 day license suspension.


If your BAC was over 0.08% you’d be charged with a DWI just like any adult would be, and would be subject to all of the attendant penalties.


In both cases, you’ll want an experienced criminal attorney defending your case to minimize the potential consequences of these charges.


Should you take the BAC test?


You can refuse a BAC test, but this may not be the best move to make. Refusing a BAC test means a potential 1-year license suspension and fines.


However, if you think you’ve had enough alcohol to end up charged with a DWAI or a DWI then it may be the safer bet. This is a judgement call you’ll have to make at the time of the traffic stop.


Are you in trouble? Get help today. 


Whatever you do, make sure you get a qualified criminal attorney to help you. These charges can have lifelong consequences, impacting career prospects, finances, and your permanent record well into the future.


There are many ways we can defend against these charges, from challenging the accuracy of the tests to challenging the facts of the case. Sometimes, we can even get charges like these completely dismissed.


Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman to get help today.

See also:


Can You Get a DWI In a Parked Car in NYC?


Are DWI Tests Reliable?


Can You Really Get My Criminal Case Dismissed?