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Zero Tolerance Law

Representing Underage Drivers Charged with Alcohol-Related Driving Offenses

New York law enforcement officers and prosecutors aggressively pursue all drug and alcohol-related driving offenses, but New York’s Zero Tolerance Law can lead to serious problems for individuals under 21. Although a driver 21 and over will be charged with “per se” DWI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above, a motorist under 21 will receive a Zero Tolerance Law ticket with a BAC of .02 percent or more. The law is designated the “Zero Tolerance Law” (N.Y. Veh. &Traf. Law §1192-a) because ingesting any amount of alcohol prior to driving generally will be sufficient for the underage driver to test at or over the legal limit of .02 percent BAC.

If you receive a citation under section 1192(a), you will not be arrested. However, you will face serious consequences that include a fine and suspension of your driving privileges if you do not prevail in front of an Administrative Law Judge during a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Our experienced White Plains Zero Tolerance Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at Greco Neyland PC recognize the hardships experienced if you lose your driving privileges. We also are aware that a record of the violation might be discovered by colleges, employers and landlords, so we investigate the facts and aggressively challenge the evidence at the DMV hearing.

Challenging Zero Tolerance Violations – The DMV Administrative Hearing

A motorist’s license will not be immediately revoked or suspended prior to the DMV hearing if you are only issued a citation for a Zero Tolerance Law violation. After you have been issued your citation, you will receive a notice in the mail informing you of the date and time of your hearing. If you also are cited for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) or Driving While Impaired, you will have both an administrative DMV case concerning your driving privileges and a case in the criminal courts. By contrast, you will not have to appear in criminal court if you are only facing a Zero Tolerance Law charge.

Because the DMV hearing is not a criminal proceeding, the burden of proof that the police officer must satisfy is much lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” that applies in the criminal courts. The burden of proof used in the DMV hearing is “clear and convincing” evidence, which is substantially less than the criminal standard. Further, the administrative hearing will be limited to fewer issues than a DWI case in the criminal courts. The police must prove the following

  • You were under the age of 21 at the time of the stop;
  • The officer had a legally sufficient reason to pull you over;
  • Your BAC was between .02 percent and .07 percent;
  • The blood or breath test was lawfully administered;
  • The officer made a valid request for you to submit to a BAC chemical test;
  • You operated a motor vehicle on a public highway.

What Is the Potential Punishment for Violation of the Zero Tolerance Law?

If the Administrative Law Judge determines that the police officer has established all of the above by clear and convincing evidence, you will be found to have violated the Zero Tolerance Law. The punishment for a first offense is a six month driver’s license suspension and a civil fine in the amount of $125.

The penalty can be much more severe if you have a prior for DWI, Zero Tolerance Law violation or DWAI. If you have been found guilty of any of these prior offenses, you will face the same fine. However, your license suspension will be a minimum of one year or until you are 21, whichever occurs later in time.

Do I Qualify for a Conditional License?

If you have no prior alcohol-related driving offenses and no aggravating factors, you can qualify for a conditional license. To obtain a conditional license, you must participate in the Drinking Driving Program (DDP). This program requires that you attend classes and pay an enrollment fee of $225. A conditional license will allow you to drive to school and work. If you successfully complete the program, you can apply for early termination of your driver’s license suspension and full reinstatement of your driving privileges. Once you turn 21, any reference to you having your driver’s license suspended because of alcohol will be removed from your driving record. There are other fees that apply to a conditional license.

Protecting Young People Facing Serious Consequences

Our White Plains Zero Tolerance Law criminal defense attorneys are committed to protecting the rights and future of high school and college aged drivers who make regrettable errors in judgment. We aggressively challenge police officers on issues, such as:

  • Attacking the basis for the initial stop
  • Exposing issues that compromise the chemical testing results
  • Challenging the facts the officer used to justify asking the driver to submit to a chemical test
  • And many others…

At Greco Neyland PC, our White Plains Zero Tolerance Law Criminal Defense Lawyers represent clients in White Plains and the surrounding areas facing alcohol-related driving offenses. We offer a free consultation so feel free to call us today at (914) 358-9146 or click here to schedule your free consultation.