The drinking age in New York is 21 and consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal with the following exceptions:
- On private, non-alcohol-selling premises, with consent of a legal guardian — for example, with legal guardian’s permission at a party, or
- For educational purposes – for example, studying at a culinary school, or
- With consent of a legal guardian on alcohol-selling premises – for example, at a restaurant or catered affair
Although drivers under 21 account for less than 10% of licensed drivers, they account for 14% of DUI related fatalities in New York, according to one survey. In addition, underage drinkers cause approximately 2,000 non-fatal accidents according to this report. Because underage drinkers cause a disproportionate number of alcohol-related auto fatalities, the standards are stricter and the penalties may be harsher for those under 21.
What constitutes driving under the influence?
If a chemical test determines that a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol content BAC of .02% or higher, the driver can be cited for driving under the influence. (For those 21 or older, the BAC is .08%)
What are the penalties?
- If First Drunk Driving Conviction: imprisonment (up to 1 year), fine ($500 to $1,000), license suspension (6 months)(more information: First Offense DUI in New York).
- If Second Drunk Driving Conviction within 5 Years: imprisonment (5 days to 4 years jail) fine ($1,000 up to $5,000) license suspension (1 year). (More Information: Second Offense DUI in New York.)
- What if you refuse the chemical test? Read about New York implied consent laws.
What other charges?
In addition to driving under the influence, an underage drinker may be charged with any of the following:
- distributing alcohol to other minors
- minor in possession,
- soliciting alcohol,
- child endangerment law violations,
- possession of false identification
- moving and vehicle maintenance violations .
What happens to insurance?
Some insurance companies may terminate a policy after an underage DUI (while others refuse to renew). Most companies simply raise the cost of the monthly premium by $100 to $200 (sometimes higher) for a higher risk policy. The raise usually stays in place for three to five years. You’ll also probably need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension (as proof of insurability). Most insurance companies furnish this form to the DMV. Check with your insurer to see if it performs this service.