Driving under the influence is illegal in the state of New York, and the most common way to measure intoxication is through Blood Alcohol Concentration. As most drivers know, the legal limit for intoxication is 0.08%. This is the BAC limit at which it can be presumed that you were impaired.
But does that legal limit apply to everyone? What if you’re under 21 and you are not legally allowed to drink at all? Does that change the way that the law applies?
The zero-tolerance rule
There is a specific law for underage drivers, known as the zero-tolerance law. This law states that someone who is under 21 cannot have a BAC that ranges from 0.02% to 0.07%. It is also illegal for them to be at 0.08% and above, of course, as it would be for any other driver, but they also have to contend with these lower limits.
As noted above, someone in this age bracket cannot legally drink under any circumstances. If the test detects alcohol at all, it’s likely to be at 0.02% or above. This is all illegal since anyone under 21 years old should, in theory, have a BAC of 0.00% until their 21st birthday. Since people don’t always follow the drinking laws that strictly, extra laws had to be made for drinking and driving.
What does this mean for you?
One problem with this type of law is that it’s easy to get to 0.02%, and you may not feel impaired when you get there. If you accidentally ingested a small amount of alcohol — consuming a spiked drink, for instance — then you could get over the legal limit if you’re under 21, even though you have no idea you’re over that limit. If you then get pulled over or get involved in an accident, you could find yourself facing serious charges for a law you never even knew that you broke.
As such, it is especially important for young drivers to know about all of the legal options they have if they are arrested on DWI charges and any related charges.