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Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many New York teens. While the ability to drive gives your teen some much desired independence, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. Graduations and summer breaks present lots of opportunities for partying, which means teens are at a higher risk for getting behind the wheel after they have been drinking. Being charged with driving while intoxicated can have lasting effects on your teen’s life. At The Law Offices of Zev Goldstein, PLLC, we understand that keeping your teen driver safe and out of trouble is extremely important to you.

New York has a zero tolerance law on the books when it comes to underage drivers who drink. If your teen is caught behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content between .02 and .07, he or she will then face an administrative hearing, according to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. If, after the hearing, your teen is found guilty, he or she will face a mark on his or her record that will remain until his or her 21st birthday or for three years. This is in addition to a license suspension and the payment of fines. However, there are no criminal charges associated with this violation. The hearing provides an opportunity for your teen to present a defense and the police officer must also prove his or her case.

You may be wondering why the cutoff doesn’t begin at 0.0 since it is called the Zero Tolerance Law. Since many consumer products, such as breath fresheners and medicines, contain small amounts of alcohol, the law took this into account and only aims to punish those who have clearly imbibed alcohol intentionally.

If a BAC of .08 or higher is found, your teen will face a full DWI charge and will have to appear in criminal court. This is a much more serious proceeding than an administrative hearing and therefore the outcome could have a much more serious impact on your teen’s life. If your teen is caught with a BAC between .05 and .08, he or she may still face a criminal charge of driving while ability impaired. For more information on being charged with a DWI, please visit our web page.

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