What are the Penalties Involved With Underage Drinking and DWI’s?
When it comes to underage drinking in America, it is truly a situation of “good news and bad news.” According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of teens who are drinking has gone down by as much as 54% since 1991. On the other hand, about one million teens drove under the influence of alcohol in 2011 alone. Worse yet, CDC reports that drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are “17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.”
Of course, in addition to the obvious risk of physical harm, young drivers also run a big risk of damaging their futures, as DWI laws carry stiff penalties, even for youths. It is important to understand that, just like adults, young drivers can also be charged for driving while intoxicated.
What is a DWI in New York?
Article 31, Sect. 1192-a of the New York Code states that it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle “after consuming alcohol.” While this is also true of those over the age of 21, the rules for determining what constitutes ‘consuming alcohol’ are a little different for people under 21.
What is the Penalty for an Underage Driver with BAC Over .08%?
Just like adults, an underage driver can still face serious criminal charges for operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher. This does not change just because the person was too young to drink.
What is the Difference Between Adult and Underage DWI?
Minimum blood-alcohol levels are different, as are the potential penalties for conviction. Since the amount of alcohol permitted to be in an adult’s blood is higher, an adult is technically not in violation of the statute unless BAC is over .08%. However, it is important to note that while this is the legal limit, a person can still be charged with various offenses for driving while impaired, even with a BAC under the legal limit. For an adult convicted of DWI in New York, the charge is generally a misdemeanor, which means it carries the possibility of jail time.
For underage drivers, however, the law is actually more restrictive than for adults. A person under 21 with a BAC between .02% and .08% is considered “per se” driving while intoxicated. Still, the law considers this type of violation to be a traffic infraction, which is not typically punishable by jail time. While still very serious, it is not generally charged as a criminal misdemeanor. It usually carries a $125 and up to a six-month license suspension. Offenders must also complete a state-approved impaired driving program. Repeat offenders can, of course, face more serious penalties, including criminal charges.
If Your Minor is Charged with DWI or DWAI on Long Island, Speak to a Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Immediately
If you are under 21 and were charged with a drug or alcohol related driving offense, or you have a loved one who is facing serious charges, you need experienced legal help. (888) DUI-LAWYER is here to offer advice and support through your most challenging legal battles. You do not have to “go it alone.” With someone available 24/7 to answer your questions, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the call. Call us at 888-DUI-Lawyer to schedule your free consultation.