Teen Drunk Driving Consequences
You have just gotten charged with a DWI and you’re not yet 21. You may be terrified and want to know what is going to happen to you. If you were driving with friends younger than 15, you may be in even more trouble. You know this is bad, but don’t know what happens next. What can you do? Here is some information about teen drunk driving.
Pulled Over for Drinking and Driving Under 21
New York State’s Zero Tolerance Law pertains to underage drinking and driving. If you are under the age of 21 and are arrested after driving with a blood alcohol level of .02% or higher, you may face disciplinary actions from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are charged of “driving after having consumed alcohol,” a special violation under the Zero Tolerance Law, you will be summoned to a DMV Administrative Hearing (failure to attend will result in a temporary suspension of your license). You may have a lawyer present, and you may present evidence, including calling witnesses, in your defense, though you are not entitled to a public defender for an administrative hearing.
“Driving after having consumed alcohol” is a violation, not a crime. If your BAC was at or below .05%, you will not face any jail time in New York State. At the very least, however, the DMV will suspend your license for six months and you will pay a civil penalty of $125. You will pay an additional $100 to have your license reinstated.
If you have no prior driving offenses or violations, you may be eligible for a conditional license, which would allow you to drive back and forth from work and school. If eligible, you may receive a conditional license upon enrolling in an approved Drinking Driver Program – both the program and the license carry additional fees.
If police stop you and find your BAC to be more than .05% but less than .08%, they may charge you with a DWAI, a more serious violation; you will be arrested and summoned to court, and could face up to 15 days in jail, though if you cooperate with police and with the court this outcome isn’t likely. If your BAC is above .08%, you will be charged with a DWI, a criminal misdemeanor. Then the consequences, particularly license revocations, could be higher than they would be for drivers 21 and older.
You may face a charge of Aggravated DWI if you:
- Had at least one child 15 or younger in the car.
- Had a BAC of .18% or higher.
The consequences for Aggravated DWI are more severe. If the cause was a BAC of .18% or higher, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor, but if you were charged because of one or more children in the car, you may be convicted of a Class E felony.
What is Leandra’s Law?
Passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly and Senate and signed by then-Governor David G. Patterson in 2009, Leandra’s Law, or the Child Passenger Protection Act, makes it an automatic Class E felony to drive intoxicated (BAC .08% or above) with a person 15 or younger in your car. You have violated Leandra’s Law if a child 15 or younger was in your vehicle and you were driving while intoxicated. As a felony offense, this could result in fines of over $1,000, and up to four years in jail.
If you are concerned about teen drunk driving DWI charges, be sure to contact our Buffalo DWI attorneys right away.