Motor vehicle crashes, many of which are alcohol related, account for a very high percentage of injuries and deaths among young people. The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) focuses much of its legislative lobbying efforts on the issue of teenage drunk driving. Prior to the mid-1980’s, the minimum drinking age from state to state varied between eighteen years to twenty-one years. Because youth between the ages of fifteen and twenty make up the largest percentage of alcohol-related fatalities, MADD lobbied for laws to raise the minimum legal drinking age to twenty-one. This legislation was signed into law in 1984 and by 1988, all fifty states had complied.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that encouraged states to enact “zero tolerance” laws, which made it illegal for individuals under the age of twenty-one to drive after drinking any alcohol at all. By 1998, all states had complied by passing such legislation. Under New York’s Zero Tolerance law, any person under the age of twenty-one who drives with a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or more may have their driver’s license revoked for at least six months. If the minor is convicted and is adjudicated a youthful offender for DWI, the revocation period is at least one year. If the minor has a prior DWI offense, the revocation period will be at least one year or until the minor reaches the age of twenty-one, whichever period is greater.
As of 1996, in all states it became illegal to sell alcohol to persons under the age of twenty-one. It is illegal In New York for anyone under the age of twenty-one to possess alcohol with the intent to consume it. It is also against the law for anyone under the age of twenty-one to use fake identification to purchase alcohol. Tampering with a New York State driver’s license can result in the loss of that license for 90 days.
Private individuals can be sued if they provide alcohol to anyone under the age of twenty-one and subsequently, the minor then injures others. Parents or guardians in New York can provide alcohol to their children, but only in their home. Businesses selling alcohol to people under the age of twenty-one can be sued for injuries to third persons as a result of the minor’s actions. The New York State Liquor Authority is responsible for taking action against licensees who violate the minimum drinking age law. Following an administrative hearing, the State Liquor Authority may revoke, cancel or suspend a license to sell alcoholic beverages and impose a penalty against the licensee of up to a $1,000 bond for a violation of these laws.
Under New York’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Statute, it is illegal to provide alcohol to persons under the age of 21. The reasons behind this statute are those of public policy. The statute provides for more stringent enforcement rules and liability for indiscriminate sales to minors, since minors are perceived as unable to cope adequately with alcoholic beverages and the danger these beverages pose to the minors themselves as well as to the public at large.
In some jurisdictions, statutes expressly provide for civil liability when a person has provided alcohol to an underage drinker who inflicts injury on a third party. Under these statutes, those who give alcohol to a minor can be held liable for injury or damage caused by the minor’s intoxication. In the case of Searley v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., the court found that the parents of a 17 year-old drunk driver, who had been furnished alcohol unlawfully by a supermarket, could sue the supermarket for unlawfully assisting in procuring alcoholic beverages to their underage son.
The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys today (877) 435-7394.
The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.