Under New York’s Zero Tolerance Law, a Buffalo driver under the age of twenty-one may be penalized if they have operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of between 0.02% and 0.07%.
Violations of this law for having low levels of alcohol are not handled in criminal court, but instead at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
While there certainly are benefits to not facing a criminal charge and being in criminal court, this also means the underage driver does not have all the rights he or she would have in criminal court.
There is no right to a jury, and all decisions will be made by the ALJ. More importantly, in criminal court any charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The standard of proof at a Department of Motor Vehicle hearing is much lower.
The arresting officer only needs to prove the allegation that the underage driver had consumed alcohol before driving by “clear and convincing evidence” for the ALJ to impose a penalty.
At the hearing, it must be established that the driver was under the age of 21 and operating a motor vehicle on a public highway when stopped.
The officer must have a valid reason for making the stop, such as having observed a moving violation.
Aside from this, all that must be established is that the officer made a valid request of the driver to submit to a breath test, the test was properly administered, and the result of the test was a blood alcohol content between 0.02% and 0.07%.
If the ALJ finds that all of these criteria have been met, the underage driver will be found in violation of the Zero Tolerance Law.
Underage drinking and driving may result in a fine and loss of driving privileges, even when only a small amount of alcohol was consumed.
If you need legal help, call us at 585-484-7432.