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What if I get a DWI and I'm Under the Legal Drinking Age?

Posted by Tillem & Associates, PC || 22-Mar-2016

In New York, the legal drinking age is 21 and older. The state has instituted a “Zero Tolerance” law for drivers under the age of 21 who operate motor vehicles with alcohol/drugs in their system. However, the minimum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .02%, not 0. The reason is because certain cough syrups and mouthwashes contain alcohol. Also, some families will allow alcohol consumption in small amounts in regards to religious or family functions.

If you are stopped by law enforcement for having consumed alcohol and the arresting officer determines that you are under the legal age and appear intoxicated, you will be temporarily detained in order to participate in a breathalyzer test, typically at the police station. If you refuse to take a breath test, you will be subject to license revocation for a minimum on year.

If your BAC is .02% or more, but not above .07%, you will be charged with a “driving after having consumed alcohol” offense (a zero tolerance violation). You will be given a notice to appear for a hearing before an administrative judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If your BAC is over .05%, but less than .07%, you may be charged with “driving while ability is impaired by alcohol” (DWAI). A first offense is punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a fine between $300 and $500.

If your BAC is over .07%, but less than .08%, you will be charged with DWAI. However, if your BAC is .08% or more, you will be charged with “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). A first offense DWI is punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine between $500 and $1,000, three years of probation and driver’s license revocation for at least six months.

For more information, contact our White Plains DWI attorney to schedule your complimentary consultation today.