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No matter what age you are, a drunk driving arrest carries heavy consequences. But if you’re under the age of 21, you stand to incur even harsher penalties. Here’s what you need to understand about New York underage drinking and driving laws and how a seasoned Brooklyn DWI lawyer can help you protect your rights and best interests.

0.02% BAC Is Enough for an Arrest

In New York, a “per se DWI” is charged based only on the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration. It is not based on field sobriety tests. It’s also not based on other evidence suggesting that the alcohol ingested did not affect the individual’s ability to drive. A “per se DWI” can be charged for adults over the age of 21 who test at 0.08% BAC or above, either through a blood test or a breath test. However, under the age of 21, only a 0.02% BAC is required for an arrest.

Penalties for an Underage DWI in New York

A “per se DWI” for an underage individual in the state of New York is actually not considered a crime. However, it is charged as a misdemeanor for a person over the age of 21. The defendant would not have to go through criminal court. Instead, they attend a hearing with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A DMV commissioner would oversee the case and would determine what potential consequences the defendant would face if guilty.

Typically, the penalties include a $125 fee and a license suspension for six months. However, if the driver completes an alcohol education program — formally called the Impaired Driver Program — they can usually receive a conditional license. The conditional license allows them to drive to work or school during their suspension. A second offense underage DWI renders the defendant ineligible for the program. This means their license is suspended for a full year or until the defendant turns 21 (whichever occurs first). Additionally, you will incur a $125 fee.

Over 0.08% BAC?

If you are underage but still test at over a 0.08% BAC, you could be charged with a traditional DWI. Therefore, you face much harsher penalties.

When to Contact a Brooklyn DWI Lawyer

If you are arrested for an underage DWI — whether it is your first or subsequent offense — don’t wait to get legal help. It’s crucial that you consult with an attorney to determine how best to defend yourself after a DWI arrest. Contact Attorney Mark Cossuto for a consultation by calling (718) 852-8047 or (800) 609-4545.