State of New York Alcohol Laws: The City & Beyond

State of New York alcohol laws are important for the millions of visitors to the state. Not knowing them can cause problems. Both for residents and visitors. No one wants to be fined or have a criminal record.

Overview

I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

A number of agencies police these laws and prosecute violators. Never assume that New York alcohol laws are the same as those elsewhere. But learning what’s legal and not can be hard.

Alcohol laws differ from state to state. They also vary within the same state. And alcohol laws sometimes conflict. People can be victims of the complexities.

I. Minimum Age Laws

Young people often want part-time jobs. Many exist in hospitality. And many of them are selling or serving alcohol. What age is needed to tend bar? To serve alcohol? To sell it for off-site drinking?

Adults 18 or older can work as bartenders as soon as they become adult. They can also work as servers in venues that sell alcohol to drink on-site.

There is no state minimum age for selling beer or wine to drink off-site. But the minimum age for selling spirits (liquor) in such venues is 18. In all cases, a manager must be present.

new york alcohol lawsNew York alcohol laws permit drinking by those under 21 if provided by a parent. Many parents let their offspring drink at home to demystefy it and promote moderation.

It is illegal for those under 21, even adults 18, 19, 1nd 20, to buy alcohol. It’s also illegal for them to attemp to buy alcohol, even if not successful.  And it’s illegal to use a false ID to buy alcohol. Or to attempt to buy alcohol.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

Spirits is sold in liquor stores beginning at noon on Sunday. Beer and low-proof wine are sold in grocery and convenience stores. Beer can be sold any time except 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Some stores sell alcohol for consumption off their premises. They can sell alcohol from 9 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Bars and restaurants can serve alcohol from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday. They can serve it beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Important is the fact that cities and counties can and do modify some alcohol regulations

For example, the townships of Argyle, Berkshire, Caneadea, Clymer, Fremont, Jasper, Lapeer, Neversink and Orwell are dry. They permit no sale of alcohol.

Buying Alcohol

It’s illegal for anyone under age 21 to buy any alcoholic beverage.

Illegal possession is a civil rather than criminal matter. Therefore, police may not arrest adults and others under age 21 for such possession. They can give a summons to appear in court for the infraction.

There, a judge may impose one or more penalties. It could be a fine of up to $50. The judge could mandate an alcohol awareness program. Or it could be up to 30 hours of community service.

Driving and Alcohol

new york alcohol lawsNew York alcohol laws prohibit driving while intoxicated. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) varies. It’s 0.08% for drivers age 21 and older. For those under 21, it’s 0.02%. And for those driving commercial vehicles it’s 0.04%. Also, driving with a BAC of 0.18 or higher is aggravated DWI (A-DWI).

In addition, New York’s alcohol laws include other charges for driving while ability impaired (DWAI). They are

DWAI/Alcohol. This refers to driving while ability is impaired by alcohol.

DWAI/Drugs. This occurs when the driving impairment is caused by a drug or drugs. The drugs may be legal and/or illicit.

DWAI/Combination. In this, impairment is caused by a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs.

new york alcohol lawsThe exact penalties for any of these crimes depends on the circumstances of the case. That includes age, type of license, the impairing substance(s), any damage, demeanor of the defendant, legal representation, etc. It also depends on the judge who hears the case.

Some penalties are mandatory, some are within ranges, and others are optional for the judge to decide..

Penalties: Under Age 21

New York’s Zero Tolerance Law prohibits those under 21 from driving with a BAC of 0.02 or higher.

First Zero Tolerance Conviction
  • License suspension for six months.
  • Fine of $125.
  • Fee of $100.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program and a minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible ignition interlock device installation and related costs.
Second Zero Tolerance Conviction
  • new york alcohol lawsLicense revocation for one year.
  • Fine of $125.
  • Fee of $100.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program. Also a minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible ignition interlock device installation and related costs.
Penalties: Age 21 and Older

The penalties for DWI and DWAI/Drugs are the same.

First DWI or DWAI/Drugs Conviction
  • Up to one year imprisonment.
  • License revocation for six months.
  • Fine of $500 to $1,000.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
Second DWI or DWAI/Drugs Conviction within Ten Years
  • new york alcohol lawsUp to four years imprisonment, with a minimum of five days in jail or 30 days of community service.
  • License revocation for at least one year.
  • Fine of $1,000 – $5,000.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
First DWAI/Alcohol Conviction
  • Up to 15 days in jail.
  • License suspension for 90 days.
  • Fine of $300 to $500.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
Second DWAI/Alcohol Conviction within Five Years
  • Up to 30 days in jail.
  • Fine of $500 – $750.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
First DWAI/Combination Conviction
  • Up to one year imprisonment.
  • License revocation for at least six months
  • Fine of $500 to $1,000.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
Second DWAI/Combination Conviction
  • new york alcohol lawsUp to four years imprisonment.
  • License revocation for one year to 18 months.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
First Aggravated DWI (A-DWI) Conviction
  • Aggravated DWI occurs when driving with a BAC of 0.16 or higher.
  • Up to one year imprisonment.
  • License revocation for at least one year.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $2,500.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
Second Aggravated DWI (A-DWI) Conviction within Five Years
  • Up to four years imprisonment.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
  • License revocation for at least 18 months.
  • A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.
Driver Rights

new york alcohol lawsAll drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right (Fifth Amendment) to decline submitting to a chemical BAC test. However, if they do so, the state punishes them. The license revocation for at least one year. The driver must pay a minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines. These are paid at $250 or more per year for three years. And there is a $500 penalty before reapplying for a driving license.

If the right is used on another occasion within five years, there is a license revocation of at least 18 months. It’s a permanent revocation for commercial drivers. And there’s an additional $750 civil penalty.

For drivers under 21, the punishment is license revocation for one year. In addition, there’s a $300 civil penalty. And there’s a $100 license reapplication charge. A second use of their right includes the penalties above. However the civil penalty increases to $750.

new york alcohol lawsImportant note. There’s no penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These tests are notoriously subjective and inaccurate. In fact, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, about of of three people with a BAC of 0.00 fail.

Lawyers strongly advise people to politely refuse to take any field sobriety test. Officers learn techniques to convince drivers to take them. They may falsely say the law requires it. But it doesn’t. They may say it will help the drivers. But it doesn’t. So lawyers say to politely and as often as needed, refuse.

Learn much more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.

Finally, it’s illegal for a driver or any passengers to drink or have an open alcohol container. However, putting any open container in the trunk is legal.

Boating and Alcohol

california alcohol lawsNew York alcohol laws prohibits operating a boat while either impaired or intoxicated. That impairment or intoxication can come from alcohol or drugs. And the drugs can be prescription or illicit.

Boating while intoxicated is operating a vessel with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. However operators under 21 are subject to zero tolerance penalties. They may not operate a boat with a BAC of 0.02.

The penalties for operating a vessel with a BAC of 0.08 or higher may be three-fold. The vessel operating license is automatically suspended for one year. The violator is also subject to a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

The state mandates a six-month license suspension for those under 21 guilty of operating a vessel after drinking. A second offense triggers a one-year suspension or until the 21st birthday, whichever is longer.

Those under 21 who use their right to decline a chemical BAC test receive a one-year license suspension. The penalty increases if there is an earlier offense or finding concerning alcohol. It’s a license suspension for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer.

III. Resources on New York Alcohol Laws

IV. Seek Good Advice and Information

Laws about alcohol change. So does their interpretation. Never rely on this or any other site. And don’t rely on family members. Or on neighbors, co-workers, or friends. Unless they’re lawyers.

new york alcohol lawsGet information or advice about New York alcohol laws from the best source. That is, get it from a lawyer holding a license in the state. In addition, alcohol attitudes and practices vary greatly across the state. Therefore, it’s wise to choose an attorney familiar with the region in question.