Among all the states of the United States, New York has the harshest penalties for drinking and driving, categorized into DUI and DWI. However, it’s even worse for drivers under the age of 21, and is called the “Zero Tolerance Law.” According to this law, even the slightest trace of alcohol in the blood can land the underaged driver in jail—and you also risk losing your license for at least 6 months.

However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Since the New York traffic laws are very strict, this penalty is further categorized based on how drunk the underaged driver is, if they refuse to test using a breathalyzer or have blood alcohol content (BAC) above the specified limit.

Here’s what you need to know.

About the “Zero Tolerance Law”

While adult drivers in New York are safe as long as their BAC percentage is less than 0.05%, underaged drivers are not allowed to drink and drive at all. Having a BAC level of even 0.02% is considered against the law, which can land you in trouble.

To simplify, consuming even less than half a beer for a young adult of average built is enough to reach the BAC limit of 0.02%. The higher the BAC level is at the time of arrest, the more severe penalties you can expect. Here are the penalties based on various BAC levels.

BAC Level of 0.02% to 0.05%

If your blood alcohol level is within the specified range, you will most likely not be charged with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be notified about the incident to determine the fate of your license suspension.

Such a case usually calls for an administrative hearing where you’re not supposed to testify. But the judge decides whether you were in violation of NY’s Zero Tolerance Law or not. If you were, you risk losing your license for up to 6 months to a year as a first-time violator. You will also be required to pay various fines to the DMV.

BAC Level of 0.05% to 0.07%

If your BAC level is within this specified range, you will most likely be charged with a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) penalty. As per the law, you can be charged with a fine of $500 with 3 months of license suspension and 15 days of jail time. However, if you participate in Impaired Driver Program, you might be eligible to drive to and from school/work.

BAC Level Above 0.08%

In this case, you can face severe penalties since you’ll be charged according to the common law and DWI under per se law. You’ll be required to appear in the criminal court, and when proven guilty, you might lose the license for a year with a permanent mark on your criminal record. Moreover, you’ll also be fined $1,000 with an ignition interlock device for a year in your vehicle.

Teenager arrested for a DWI charge

Need Help With Your DWI Charge?

Getting a DWI charge as an underaged driver can be a very overwhelming moment. The best thing you can do is get an experienced DWI lawyer in Pelham on board to help you navigate the process, such as DWI and Traffic Lawyers. We are a traffic ticket and DWI law practice with some of the finest attorneys on board. Whether you need to flight a traffic speeding ticket or are in need of a DUI lawyer, we can help.

Contact us now to get started.