If you have been accused of drunk driving or refused a Breathalyzer test after being stopped by an officer, you may have heard that New York is a zero tolerance state. There are many misconceptions about what this actually means, however.
The zero tolerance law only applies to drivers under 21 years of age, and it requires that those drivers have a blood-alcohol level of less than .02 percent when operating a vehicle. The level was set at .02 so that only those who had willfully consumed alcohol before driving would be arrested.
If am underage driver's blood alcohol level is above .02 but less than .07 percent, the driver will be charged with driving after having consumed alcohol. If it is .05 percent to under .08 percent, the charge can be moved up to driving while ability is impaired by alcohol. A blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher will results in a driving while intoxicated charge.
Of course, a primary component in this is how the blood alcohol level is determined. In most cases, the arresting officer will take the driver back to the police station to administer the Breathalyzer test. In the state of New York, refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test can result in the driver's license being suspended for a minimum of one year.
If you are under the age of 21 and have been charged with a drunk driving offense or refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, discussing your case with a criminal defense attorney can help you better understand the possible penalties you may face and your options going forward.
Source: SafeNY, "New York's Zero Tolerance Law" Dec. 13, 2014