Are you under 21 years old?
The Zero Tolerance Law applies to a person under age 21 who operates a motor vehicle with a BAC of not less than 0.02%, nor more than 0.07%, regardless of whether or not the person is legally impaired at all.
If you are pulled over in your car by a police officer, and then the police officer determines that you are under 21 and have consumed alcohol, you will be temporarily detained for the purpose of taking a breathalyzer test to determine your BAC level. This usually occurs at the police station.
With a BAC level of not less than 0.02%, nor more than 0.05%, you will not be charged with DWI, but you will be referred to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine whether or not your license should be suspended for violating the Zero Tolerance Law. You will be provided with a notice to appear for a hearing before an administrative law judge of the DMV. It is during this hearing that a police officer must prove that there was a lawful vehicle stop, that you were driving the vehicle, that you were under 21 at the time of the offense, that the request to take a BAC test was proper, that the BAC test was correctly administered, and that either your BAC was 0.02% or more at the time you were driving or that you refused the breath test.
After testimony is taken from the police officer(s) involved and from you (if you wish, but you are not required to testify) and/or your witnesses, the administrative law judge will decide whether or not a Zero Tolerance violation occurred and if a refusal occurred (if applicable). If such findings are made, you will lose your license. For a first-time Zero Tolerance violation, you will lose your license for six months. If you are under 21 and refused a breathalyzer test, your license will be revoked for at least one year. At the very least, you will have to pay various civil fees to the DMV before you are granted back your driving privileges.
With a BAC level of more than 0.05% but less than 0.08%, the police will have the option of charging you with DWAI and/or common law DWI. With a BAC level of more than 0.08%, you will be charged with DWI under both the per se law and common law. In such a case, you will be summoned to appear in criminal court for these charges. If you are convicted of DWI or DWAI and were under 21 years old at the time of committing the offense, you will lose your license for at least one year.
New York State’s Zero Tolerance Law affects our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. If you or someone you love have been charged under the Zero Tolerance Law, call or email me, Tom Anelli, the DWI Guy, now. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable New York State DWI defense attorneys can help minimize the adverse impact these charges may cause to a young life.