New York’s Zero Tolerance Law

New York's Zero Tolerance Law - Permit Practice Test - NY

NYS Zero Tolerance Law Affects Drivers under 21 Years

The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level at which a driver can be automatically charged with impaired driving is 0.08% in all states. This is often referred to as the “legal limit”.

If you are under 21 years, you can be charged with drunk driving under the Zero Tolerance Law. This law sets a lower limit. In New York State, it is .02 percent.

New York has set the limit at .02 percent to address drivers who had willfully consumed alcohol. Other states have a true zero tolerance, where any measurable amount can result in a conviction.

0.02 Percent – 0.07 Percent

If you are under 21 years, you will normally be charged under the Zero Tolerance Law (driving after having consumed alcohol) if the BAC is 0.02 percent, but no more than 0.07 percent.

If the BAC level is more than .05% but not more than .07%, the police has the option of charging you with “Driving While Ability is Impaired by alcohol” (DWAI).

If the level is 0.08 percent or more, normal “Driving While Intoxicated”(DWI) laws apply. DWAI and DWI offenses are dealt with in criminal court. An offense under Zero Tolerance Law is an administrative violation. It will not result in a criminal conviction.

Zero Tolerance Law

NY DMV Hearing and License Suspension

If you are charged under the Zero Tolerance Law, you must appear at a DMV hearing. If the DMV hearing finds that you are guilty of the offense, your driving privilege is suspended for six months. A second Zero Tolerance violation will result in a license revocation for 1 year or until you are 21 years, whichever is longer.

Additional Penalties

In addition to a license suspension, you must pay a $125 civil penalty and a $100 suspension termination fee before you can have your driver’s license reinstated.

The charge will remain on your driving record for three years or until you are 21 years, whichever is longer.

Test Refusal

If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, a DMV hearing is also necessary. If the hearing finds that the police officer had grounds for the chemical test request, the penalties are:

  • $300 civil penalty
  • 1-year license revocation
  • License reapplication fee

A second offense results in a revocation for 1 year or until you are 21 years, whichever is longer.

What Does a License Revocation Mean?

A revocation means that you must turn in the driver’s license to DMV, and it will be illegal for you to drive. At the end of the revocation period, you may apply for a new permit and start the licensing procedure all over again. You must also pay all applicable fees.


Read more about New York’s Zero Tolerance Law: Safeny.ny.gov

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