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 fines, jail, or a criminal record.

           Overview

I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  More Alcohol Laws
III. Resources
IV.  Get 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 necessary 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. More New York Alcohol Laws

Selling Alcohol

Liquor stores can sell spirits beginning at noon on Sunday. Grocery and convenience stores can sell beer and low-proof wine. They can sell beer 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 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 with impairment of ability by alcohol.

DWAI/Drugs. This occurs when driving with impairment of ability by a drug or drugs. The drugs may be legal and/or illicit.

DWAI/Combination. In this, impairment of ability 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 (DDP) and at least $750 in Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible ignition interlock device (IID) installation and related costs. This prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has alcohol in the breath

Second Zero Tolerance Conviction

  • new york alcohol lawsLicense revocation for one year.
  • Fine of $125.
  • Fee of $100.
  • Possible $300 DDP. Also at least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible IID 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.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

Second  DWI or DWAI/Drugs Conviction

  • 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.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

First DWAI/Alcohol Conviction

  • Up to 15 days in jail.
  • License suspension for 90 days.
  • Fine of $300 to $500.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

Second DWAI/Alcohol Conviction

  • Up to 30 days in jail.
  • Fine of $500 – $750.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

First DWAI/Combination Conviction

  • Up to one year imprisonment.
  • License revocation for at least six months
  • Fine of $500 to $1,000.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

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.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

First Aggravated DWI (A-DWI) Conviction

  • DWI (A-DWI) occurs when driving with a BAC of 0.16% or higher.
  • Up to one year in jail.
  • License revocation for at least one year.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $2,500.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.

Second Aggravated DWI (A-DWI) Conviction within Five Years

  • Up to four years in prison.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
  • License revocation for at least 18 months.
  • At least $750 in DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years.
  • Possible $300 DDP.
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 DRP fines. Paid at $250 or more per year for three years. And there is a $500 penalty before reapplying for a driving license.

If a person uses the right again within five years, the license revocation is 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.

Field Sobriety Test

Important note. There’s no penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These tests are very inaccurate. In fact, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, about one of three people with a BAC of zero (0.00) fail!

Police use many techniques to convince drivers to take the test. They may falsely say the law requires it. But it doesn’t. They may say it will help the drivers prove their innocence. But they don’t consider passing it to be proof of sobriety. Besides, drivers don’t need to prove their innocence. Instead, it’s the state that must prove their guilt.

Lawyers strongly advise people to politely refuse to take the test. And to do so as often as necessary. 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 state suspends the vessel operating license 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. Get Good Advice

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 laws and practices vary greatly across the state. Therefore, it’s wise to choose an attorney familiar with the region in question.