NYC Underage DWI Lawyers – A Guide for Young Drivers Facing Drunk Driving Charges
Getting arrested for drunk driving is scary for anyone, but it can feel especially overwhelming if you’re under 21. As a minor, New York’s strict “zero tolerance” laws mean you face harsh penalties even if you only had a small amount to drink.
While an underage DWI charge may seem hopeless, experienced NYC lawyers can help. I’ve defended countless young drivers and know how to build strong cases. Don’t let one mistake ruin your future. Read on to learn more about underage DWIs in NYC and your legal options.
Understanding New York’s Zero Tolerance Law
New York has a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers under 21. This means it’s illegal to drive with ANY alcohol in your system. The legal limit is just 0.02% BAC – about one drink. Even if your driving wasn’t impaired, you can be arrested.
This strict policy is meant to discourage teen drinking. But it often ensnares responsible students who made a small mistake. Even if you just tried a sip of beer at a party, you could end up with a suspended license and a permanent criminal record.
While zero tolerance sounds harsh, experienced lawyers know how to challenge these cases. There are often issues with testing procedures or reasonable explanations for your BAC level. With an aggressive defense, many underage DWIs can be reduced or dismissed.
Common Penalties for Underage DWI Charges
If you’re arrested for DWI under 21 in NYC, there are two potential outcomes:
DMV Hearing for “Zero Tolerance” Violations
If your BAC was 0.02-0.07%, you’ll face a civil hearing with the DMV rather than criminal court. At the hearing, a DMV administrative judge reviews the evidence against you. If found guilty, common penalties include:
- License suspension – 6 months minimum for a first offense
- $125 civil fine
- Possible ignition interlock requirement
You may also have to complete New York’s Drinking Driver Program to reinstate your license. This involves classes on the dangers of underage drinking and driving.
While DMV hearings seem more informal than criminal court, it’s still critical to have legal representation. An experienced lawyer can point out flaws in the officer’s investigation or testing procedures. This can help get your charges reduced or dismissed so you maintain driving privileges.
Criminal Court for DWI Charges
If your BAC was 0.08% or higher, you’ll be criminally charged with DWI instead of a civil license hearing. Now there’s a permanent criminal record on the line if convicted.
Common criminal penalties for underage DWI include:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- License suspension – 1 year minimum
- Fines up to $1000
- Ignition interlock requirement
- Community service
Again, an aggressive defense is key to avoiding conviction. By analyzing police mistakes and questioning the accuracy of chemical testing, we can often get charges dismissed or reduced to a non-criminal offense.
Common Defenses Against Underage DWI Charges
While underage DWI cases seem straightforward at first glance, there are often legal defenses to explore. As your attorney, I’ll thoroughly investigate every aspect of your arrest to build the strongest case. Some common defenses I use include:
Lack of Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop
All evidence flows from the initial traffic stop, so it’s crucial that police had valid reasons to pull you over. If the stop was illegal, all subsequent evidence can be suppressed. I’ll check for signs of profiling or an invalid reason for the stop.
Issues with Field Sobriety Testing
Standardized field tests like the walk-and-turn have over a 20% error rate. Small mistakes administering the test can invalidate the results. I’ll review police reports to see if tests were performed correctly.
Problems with Chemical Testing
Breathalyzers have margins of error around 0.02% BAC. If you’re just over the legal limit, it’s possible the results are inaccurate. I’ll obtain maintenance records to check the device was properly calibrated.
Reasonable Explanations for BAC Level
Sometimes there’s an innocent explanation for your BAC level, like recent use of mouthwash. As your attorney, I’ll help substantiate these claims so the court understands your side of the story.
Medical Conditions Affecting Test Results
Certain medical conditions like acid reflux can falsely elevate breathalyzer readings. If applicable, I’ll present medical records so the court knows your BAC results were skewed.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Trying to navigate underage DWI charges alone can ruin your future prospects. These cases require an experienced NYC lawyer to protect your rights. As your counsel, I’ll:
- Thoroughly analyze your case to spot issues for dismissal
- Aggressively defend you in hearings and court
- Negotiate reduced charges whenever possible
- Advocate for the least damaging penalties
Without proper representation, you risk maximum fines, jail time, and license suspensions. Don’t gamble your future – call me for a free consultation today.
What to Do If You’re Charged with Underage DWI
Getting arrested for DWI under 21 can be terrifying. Here are some tips on what to do next:
Never admit guilt or try to explain yourself to police. Anything you say can be used against you. Politely decline to answer any questions.
Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
These tests are subjective and difficult to pass even when sober. Refusing cannot be used against you in court.
Take the Breathalyzer
Refusing this chemical test leads to automatic license suspension in NY. Take the test, but remind police you’re only doing so under duress.
Ask for an Attorney
Repeat this request until police allow you to call a lawyer. Don’t say anything else until you’ve spoken with counsel.
Seek Legal Help ASAP
Call me or another experienced DWI attorney immediately after release. Quick action is key to building your defense.
Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Case
If you or someone you love is charged with underage DWI, it’s critical to have an attorney who knows New York’s tough laws. When choosing legal counsel, look for:
- A proven track record defending underage DWI cases
- Thorough knowledge of technical chemical testing issues
- Experience negotiating reduced charges with local prosecutors
- Understanding of the long-term consequences of conviction
I’ve successfully represented hundreds of young New Yorkers facing DWI charges. My #1 priority is keeping your record clean so this mistake doesn’t ruin your future. Don’t wait – call me today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get a conditional license to drive to school/work?
Maybe. First offenders may qualify for a conditional license, but it depends on your exact charges. A lawyer can advise if you’re eligible.
Should I just plead guilty and accept the penalties?
Absolutely not! Pleading guilty leads to huge fines, license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. An experienced attorney can often get charges reduced or dismissed.
What if there were drugs in the car too?
Any additional charges like marijuana possession will be dealt with separately. Never consent to a vehicle search after a DWI stop.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?
You can refuse the test, but your license will be automatically suspended for at least one year as a result. It’s best to take the test then challenge the results in court.
What if I was prescribed medication that affected the results?
Make sure police know about any medications you’re taking. A lawyer can help explain how prescribed drugs impacted your test results.
Underage DWI charges in NYC can carry devastating penalties that derail your education and career. But experienced lawyers know how to build an aggressive defense to protect your future.
Don’t wait to seek legal help if you or someone you love is facing an underage DWI. Call me today for a free consultation. I’ll evaluate your case and start formulating a defense strategy immediately. One mistake shouldn’t ruin your life – let me help you fight these charges today.