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New York DUI/DWI: Some Basics on the Zero Tolerance Law


New York State embraces several laws and programs aimed at reducing drunk driving, especially among young people. One of the laws aimed at reducing underage drunk driving in New York State is the Zero Tolerance law.

Some Basics on The New York Zero Tolerance Law

The Zero Tolerance law in New York applies to anyone below the age of 21.

The law warns anyone under 21 against operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of between 0.02% and 0.07%. Any person under 21 found operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of between 0.02% and 0.07% stands to face strict penalties for disobeying the Zero Tolerance law.

What Happens After an Officer Stops a Driver?

When an officer pulls over a driver on DUI suspicion, they usually require the driver to undertake a breathalyzer test. In many cases, an officer will require the driver to take the test at the police station. An individual can refuse to take the test, but doing so only bears negative consequences. For example, a driver could have their license suspended for at least one year. Therefore, it is not wise to refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

What Happens After the Breathalyzer Test?

An individual’s BAC level always paves the way for the next course of action. Blood Alcohol Content ranging between 0.02% and 0.07% will see an individual charged with driving after having consumed alcohol. This charge is not tried in criminal court. In New York, any individual under the age of 21 charged with driving after having consumed alcohol appears before an administrative judge at the NYS DMV. At the hearing, before the judge can give a final ruling, an officer needs to prove certain things. For instance, they need to prove that there was a legal vehicle stop. They also need to prove that they correctly asked you to take a breathalyzer test.

If found guilty, you stand to face the following penalties:

  • non-monetary penalty – license suspension of up to six months and
  • monetary penalty โ€“ a fine of up to $125.

On the other hand, with a BAC of more than 0.05% and less than 0.08%, you could end up in a criminal court. Such BAC means that you will be charged with DWAI (Driving While Ability is Impaired by Alcohol). BAC of over 0.08% is classified as DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and is also tried in criminal court. A first-time conviction of DWAI carries a jail term of up to 15 days and a fine of up to $500. You also risk losing your license for one year if found guilty of DWAI. DWI, on the other hand, is punishable by up to one year in jail. Guilty individuals also stand to pay a monetary fine of up to $1,000 and lose their license for one year.

Contact Us for Help With Your Case

If you or your child is being accused of violating the Zero Tolerance Law, you need to work with an experienced NYC DWUI/DUI/DWAI attorney. Contact dedicated DUI lawyer Mark I. Cohen, Esq. at 212-732-0002 to receive legal help.



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