Minors can face heavy penalties for a DWI conviction in New York

When people drink and drive, it is no secret that they are more prone to accidents. They may have slower reaction times and may have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. The state of New York imposes harsh penalties on people convicted of drunk driving. There can be even more significant consequences, however, when the offender is a minor who is legally not allowed to drink in the first place.

Drunk driving charges for minors in New York

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration while driving in New York is 0.08 percent. When the driver is a minor, a BAC of 0.02 percent is the legal limit. A driver under age 21 who is stopped on suspicion of impaired driving and has a BAC of 0.02 percent or greater may face criminal charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI), in addition to administrative penalties under New York's Zero Tolerance Law.

Minor drivers can also get into trouble if they show other evidence of impairment, from alcohol or drug use or a combination of drugs and alcohol. New York enforces a Zero Tolerance Law, meaning that minors are held accountable when their BAC is between 0.02 and 0.07 percent regardless of the legal limit being 0.08 percent for people over age 21.

The Zero Tolerance Law provides for the possibility of an administrative hearing in many cases if the underage individual's BAC was greater than 0.02 percent but less than 0.08 percent. However, if the prosecutor and/or the court decide not to apply the administrative treatment, or if the minor's BAC was greater than 0.05 percent, the individual could face criminal charges of DWAI or DWI in a criminal proceeding.

The consequences of a drunk driving criminal conviction in New York

When an individual charged with the crime of drunk driving is convicted in a criminal proceeding, on a first offense, the minimum fine is $500. A jail sentence of up to one year is also permitted. The individual's driver's license may be revoked for a period of at least one year. Other non-judicial consequences of a conviction can include difficulties in obtaining educational opportunities, housing opportunities and job opportunities.

When a minor is charged with a DWI offense, a youthful mistake can put one's whole future at risk. In some cases, youthful offender treatment may be an option for those charged with an impaired driving offense under age 19. These individuals may get the opportunity to seal their records and have the offense kept off of their records, to their great benefit in the future.

Being represented by a knowledgeable DWI defense attorney can make for a much smoother process and help protect a minor's future. An attorney with experience in underage DWI cases is familiar with the court process and the alternatives that may be available. No minor should face a DWI charge alone, and calling upon the help of a DWI attorney as soon as one is in trouble can help.