Drinking Age in New York

Bar at the Chelsea Hotel in NYC

Drinking Age in New York: What You Need to Know

The drinking age in New York State, as it is in New York City, is 21 years old. New York does not permit the sale of alcohol to, or the purchase and consumption of alcohol by, anyone under the age of 21. This regulation is tightly enforced, especially in Big Apple bars as they can lose their liquor license for selling alcohol to a minor.

The laws for drinking age in New York have evolved over the years, and have swung up and down from a low of 16 before prohibition to the current age of 21, which was established in 1985 pursuant to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.

New York is one of the states with no exceptions to the federal minimum legal drinking age of 21. The state also has a zero-tolerance policy for persons under 21 caught driving under the influence of alcohol, and minors caught with any alcohol in their blood are subject to license revocation for 6 months or more among other penalties, which could include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.

Legal Age for Drinking in New York

The legal drinking age in New York is 21 years old. It was established in 1985 after the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, when New York increased the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.

New York has a “zero tolerance” policy for persons under the age of 21 caught with any alcohol in their blood while driving. Minors caught with any alcohol in their blood are subject to license revocation for 6 months or more, along with penalties for drunken driving which could include fines, license suspension, and imprisonment.

Alcohol Limit New York

For minors under the age of 21, alcohol in their blood is defined legally as 0.02% or more.

For persons over the age of 21, New York’s maximum blood alcohol level for driving is 0.08%.

Alcohol Laws and Regulations

Even though New York City is the city that never sleeps, with a vibrant nightlife, New York has very strict alcohol laws and regulations that govern the sale, purchase, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Sale and Purchase

In New York, the minimum age to purchase, possess and consume alcoholic beverages is 21 years old. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol, just as it is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. There are two limited exceptions to this, which are an alcoholic beverage given to a person – and not their friends! – by a parent or guardian, or to a student as part of an educational curriculum provided it is only for instructional purposes in a program licensed by New York State.

Alcohol sales are regulated by the The New York State Liquor Authority, which permits beer to be sold in grocery stores and convenience stores, but liquor and wine can only be sold in liquor stores during the following hours – from 8:00 am to 12:00 am from Monday through Saturday, and from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on Sundays.

Consumption

In New York State, alcohol can be consumed on private property with the owner’s permission, or in establishments with the necessary liquor licenses.

For consumption on-premises in establishments such as bars, alcohol cannot be served from 4:00 am to 8:00 am from Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays alcohol cannot be served from 4:00 am to 10:00 am.

New York laws also regulate the consumption of alcohol in public places, making it illegal to consume alcohol in public spaces such as streets, parks, and beaches.

Underage Drinking

New York has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking for minors under 21 years of age.

If caught drinking underage, a person may face arrest, a summons, fines, community service, and the seizure of any alcohol in their possession. It is important to note that even if not charged under the DWI or DWAI statutes, a minor with a .02 – .07% B.A.C. faces an administrative hearing and sanctions.

Closing Thoughts on Drinking Age in New York

The drinking age in New York is 21 years, and both New York State and New York City have a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol, just as it is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. While there are two very limited exceptions for alcohol consumption by minors, which is if given by their parent or guardian or as part of a regulated educational program for instructional purposes only, it is better to be safe than sorry and permit minors to buy, possess or drink alcohol only after they turn 21.

The drinking age has been the subject of debate since minors can vote at the age of 18, but it has been considered in the best interest of minors and of public safety to maintain the drinking age at 21.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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