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What happens at an underage drunk driving hearing in New York?

In New York, if a person under 21-years-old has a blood alcohol content that is between 0.02 percent and 0.07 percent, he or she may be charged with driving after having consumed alcohol. This is due to the state’s zero tolerance laws. A person charged with driving after having consumed alcohol may have to attend an administrative hearing. Therefore, it is important to understand what such a hearing entails.

These hearings will take place in front of a Department of Motor Vehicles administrative law judge. At the hearing, it is the burden of the police to prove six points. First of all, it must be shown that it was the accused that was behind the wheel of the car when the alleged incident occurred. Second, it must be shown that the police had a valid reason to ask the accused to take a breath test or other type of chemical test. Third, the police must prove that the accused was, in fact, under age 21 when the incident occurred. Fourth, the police must show that the breath test was properly performed. Fifth, it must be shown that the accused’s BAC registered at least 0.02 percent but not higher than 0.07 percent. Finally, the traffic stop must have been legal.

At the administrative hearing, the accused can present evidence and witnesses on his or her behalf. The accused may also retain an attorney. However, since an administrative hearing is not a criminal trial, the state need not provide the accused with a public defender.

If the administrative law judge does find that the accused drove after having consumed alcohol, the accused will not be sent to jail. However, the accused may face a six-month suspension of his or her license to drive. In addition, the accused may face a fine $125.

This post only discussed the situation in which a person under 21-years-old may have to attend an administrative hearing after having been accused of driving after consuming alcohol. More serious offenses, such as driving while ability is impaired by alcohol and driving while intoxicated will be handled by New York’s criminal court system. In any case, it may be beneficial for any person facing alcohol-related charges to retain an attorney who can explain the charges and defend the interests of the accused.

Source: safeny.ny.gov, “Legislation Affects Drivers Under 21 Years of Age,” Accessed Aug. 17, 2015