Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States. Chronic and heavy alcohol use can lead to significant health consequences including certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver disease, and can have negative effects on the brain and nervous system. Binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in about two hours, especially at an early age, may lead to the development of alcohol use disorder. Another risk for young persons who binge drink is alcohol poisoning.
- Change in behavior
- Isolation and less transparent behaviors
- Avoiding contact with family and/or friends
- Change in friends, hobbies, and/or activities
- Drop in grades or changes in work performance
- Moodiness, irritability, nervousness/anxiety, giddiness
- Lack of concentration and poor short-term memory
- The smell of alcohol on clothes/breath
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Walking abnormally
Binge drinking early in life and in excess can lead to alcohol use disorder.
Underage drinking can have a number of serious, more immediate consequences. Teens who drink are at increased risk for:
- Involvement in car accidents
- Alcohol poisoning
- Unintentional injuries
- Sexual risk behaviors
- Physical or sexual assault as a victim or perpetrator
- Legal problems
- Problems at school
- Participation in other potentially harmful activities such as substance use or gambling
The New York State Zero Tolerance law applies to a person under age 21 who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more but less than .08%.
If you refuse to take a breath test, you will be subject to a fine and license revocation of at least one year.
For more information about penalties for alcohol-related driving violations visit New York DMV | Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations (ny.gov).
Impaired Driving Offenders
New York State Residents
Impaired Driving Program Participants may be required to undergo screening to identify risk factors for a substance use disorder either as part of the DMV Impaired Driver Program (IDP) or a court order. After the screening, individuals found to be at risk for developing a substance use disorder are referred for a comprehensive clinical assessment that must be completed by an OASAS approved provider. Based on the assessment, completion of a substance use disorder treatment program may be required by the DMV.
Out-of-state residents charged with or convicted of an impaired driver offense in NYS can locate authorized screening, assessment or treatment providers in their state of residence by searching for outpatient programs in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) treatment facility locator.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Alcohol consumption among pregnant persons is a public health concern. There is no amount or type of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy.
Persons who are pregnant or trying to conceive should refrain from drinking alcohol. Continued alcohol consumption increases the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and can cause birth defects, developmental disabilities, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Children who are born with FASD can have physical, cognitive, and behavioral issues later in life.
If you are using alcohol while pregnant and would like assistance in cutting back or stopping alcohol use, or if you have alcohol use disorder and want help, call the OASAS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY today to learn about your treatment options or visit our Pregnant and Parenting Persons page.
For help with alcohol use disorder, call the New York State HOPELine at 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY for help, hope, and referrals. You also can find substance use disorder treatment near you using the OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard Tool or search for a program or provider using the look-up tool.