Teen-Age Drinking And The Law


It’s no secret that the rashness of youth and the allure of alcohol are a dangerous combination. That’s why I support the laws prohibiting alcohol purchases by and for those under 21.

The 21 Alcohol Purchase Law is saving lives. Since the minimum drinking age was raised, almost 14,000 fewer people have been killed in traffic fatalities nationwide.

To cut the number of traffic fatalities even more, the Legislature passed the “Zero Tolerance” Law. Under this law, if any driver under the age of 21 is stopped and they’ve had even one alcoholic drink, they’ll lose their license immediately — for at least six months.

I continue to support legislation to make our highways safer. Please feel free to contact my district office with any questions or concerns.

Albany Office:
Room 602 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-4451
District Office:
114-52A Merrick Boulevard
St. Albans, New York 11434
(718) 657-5312


Zero Tolerance and the
21 Alcohol Purchase Law...

Know the Facts!

New York Has Zero Tolerance
For Underage Drinking

In New York State, it has been illegal since 1985 to drink if youíre under 21. While this law has been credited with saving a number of lives, alcohol involvement in motor vehicle crashes of young drivers continues. In order to reduce the number of young drinking drivers, thereby enhancing highway safety, the Zero Tolerance Law was enacted in 1996.

Under the Zero Tolerance Law, if youíre under 21, and found to have been driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% ó one drink ó or higher, youíll lose your license for at least six months. You will also have to pay a $125 fine and an additional $100 to get your license back. If it happens again, your license will be revoked for one year or until you turn 21, whichever is later. You will also be fined and pay additional fees to get your license back.

If you have a BAC of .07% or more, even tougher DWI/DWAI penalties will be imposed, including possible jail terms.

21 ó Itís The Law

Itís been almost 20 years since New York State raised the drinking age from 18 to 21. Since then, the 21 Alcohol Purchase Law has had a significant impact on lowering the number of alcohol-related driving fatalities. The following provisions explain the Alcohol Purchase Law and your responsibilities under it.

  • Use fake I.D. ó lose your license
  • It is illegal for anyone under 21 to possess alcohol with the intent to consume it. Itís also against the law for anyone under 21 to use fake identification to purchase alcohol. Tampering with a New York State (or any state) driverís license can result in the loss of that license for 90 days.

  • Serve minors alcohol & you can be sued for their actions
  • Private individuals can be sued if they provide alcohol to anyone under 21 and subsequently, the minor then injures others (parents or guardians can provide alcohol to their children, but only in their home).

    Businesses selling alcohol to people under 21 can be sued for injuries to third persons as a result of the minorís actions.

  • Underage Employees
  • A person under the age of 18 employed in a grocery store may handle and deliver beer and wine products. Minors can work as cashiers when under the direct supervision of a person 18 or older.

    Anyone under 18 may be employed as a dishwasher, busboy or in any capacity which requires the handling of containers that once held alcohol, if they are supervised by someone 21 or older. Alcohol may be served by a person 18 years or older.

  • Who Enforces the Law?
  • Enforcement of the 21 Alcohol Purchase Law is handled primarily by local police. The State Liquor Authority is responsible for taking action against licensees who violate the law.

    Following an administrative hearing, the 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.

    New Law Aimed at
    Preventing Keg Sales
    To Minors

    In order to curb underage drinking, the Assembly passed legislation requiring registration of beer kegs. The law requires anyone buying a keg to pay a $75 registration deposit (which is refunded when the keg is returned with the tag and within the allotted time period) and to fill out an identification tag with the name and address of the store, name of the keg buyer and a keg ID number assigned by the store owner. Persons who remove or damage a beer keg tag can be charged with a criminal offense and fined $250 to $450.

    Alcohol & Teens

    • Nationwide, nearly 30 percent of traffic fatalities of 15 to 20 year olds were alcohol-related.
    • About six percent of licensed drivers in New York State are between the ages of 16 and 20, but they account for 11 percent of the stateís highway fatalities.
    • Almost 21 percent of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in motor vehicle crashes had blood alcohol levels of .10% or greater.

    Sources: NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Fatality Facts and Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration