Westchester County Underage DWI Lawyer
People who are under the age of 21 who face allegations of DWI should be especially concerned. This is because they can face additional penalties even without a conviction.
A Westchester County underage DWI lawyer may be able to help you. This includes providing representation during administrative sessions and during the primary criminal case. A skilled DWI attorney could help preserve your right to continue driving and protect your freedom.
Charges for Drivers Under 21 in Westchester County
State law prohibits any person who is under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol or possessing an open container. In addition, the laws prohibiting driving while drunk are even more strict for underage defendants.
State laws say that people over the age of 21 can legally operate a vehicle as long as they do not have a blood/alcohol content of .08 percent or more. However, the permissible amount of alcohol in an operator’s system is much lower for those under 21.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1192-a, the maximum permissible blood/alcohol content for people under 21 is .02 percent. A conviction under this statute is a misdemeanor, but can result in jail time, the payment of fines, and a license suspension. A Westchester County lawyer could help someone who is underage fight back against any DWI allegations.
What Happens When a Minor has a BAC of .08 or Above?
While the law provides a lower threshold for minor drivers, the lesser penalties will not protect them should they drive with a high blood alcohol concentration. When a driver is between 18 and 20, a BAC concentration of .08 or more will result in a traditional DWI charge. This prevents underage drivers from facing reduced penalties for a serious DWI charge.
Can Police Require Minors to Take a Chemical Test?
All drivers in New York give their implied consent to a chemical test when the police suspect that are driving while intoxicated. This means they must either submit to a chemical test or face fines and a driver’s license suspension.
State law provides police with more leeway to request these tests from minor drivers. While police must have reasonable cause to believe a person over 21 is intoxicated before they can ask for a breathalyzer, the standard is lower for drivers under 21. When it comes to motorists under the age of 21, the police only need reasonable cause that they have consumed any alcohol whatsoever—there is no need to believe they are intoxicated. This is due to the lower BAC rules regarding underage drivers.
What Happens If a Minor Driver Refuses to Submit to a Breath Test?
There are additional consequences for refusing to submit to a chemical test. When a minor driver is under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, they can face similar penalties as an adult would if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test.
If driver that is under the age of 21 refuses a test, they may face the same civil penalties as an adult driver. Additionally, the state may suspend their driving privileges for one year or until the individual turns 21, whichever is longer. This is potentially a steeper suspension compared to drivers that are 21 years old or older. A lawyer in Westchester County could help an underage driver protect their driving rights if they refused to submit to a breath test following a DWI charge.
Administrative Court Sessions for Underage DWI Defendants
State laws also require administrative court sessions with the Department of Motor Vehicles for underage drivers facing DWI accusations. New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1192 outlines the procedures and potential penalties for these sessions.
In essence, these sessions are mini-trials where a police officer can present evidence to a magistrate or judge concerning their beliefs that an underage person consumed alcohol and then operated a vehicle. Because the State considers this offense extremely serious, the court must hold these sessions no more than 30 days after the arrest.
During the session, the police officer can testify as to why they arrested this driver for underage DWI. The accused also has the opportunity to cross-examine the officer and present evidence of their own. If the court finds the person guilty, it can:
- Order a fine of $125
- Suspend their driver’s license for six months
- Order that the driver install an interlock ignition device on their vehicle as a condition of license reinstatement
Of course, these penalties are in addition to any that result from a drinking and driving conviction. A Westchester County lawyer could help provide a powerful defense for an underage driver during these DWI hearings.
Let a Westchester County Underage DWI Attorney Help
Any allegation involving drunk driving is serious. However, perhaps the most concerning cases are those involving drivers under the age of 21. State law prohibits underage drivers from consuming any alcohol, and DWI charges can result in severe penalties.
A Westchester County underage DWI lawyer could help you if you are facing charges. These can work to defend your rights and freedoms during both administrative court hearings and against drunk driving charges in criminal court. Call today to learn more.