Alaska state law stipulates that you are legally drunk if your blood-alcohol content is at .08 percent or greater for operators of personal vehicles and .04 percent or greater for operators of commercial vehicles. If you are pulled over and your BAC is found to be at or more than the BAC limit, you will be charged with driving under the influence. You can also be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of any amount of an illegal drug.
In Alaska, a DUI is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum three-day jail sentence, an automatic revocation of the driver’s license for 90 days and points applied against the driver’s record. The maximum penalties are one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A judge may also order drivers who are convicted of a DUI into a mandatory drug and alcohol treatment program and to use an ignition interlock device for up to six months.
If the driver is under the age of 21 and under the influence of alcohol, they will face a slightly modified charge. A first offense carries a penalty of 20 to 40 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The amount of mandatory community service and fines increase with each subsequent offense.
Snowmobiles and other off-road gas-powered vehicles are considered motor vehicles by the state and subject to the same laws when they cross roads or use closed roads.
Alaska has an implied consent law, which means that acceptance of a driver’s license implies that the driver gives consent to be tested for drugs or alcohol if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that they are under the influence. If an accident causing serious injury or death has occurred, law enforcement officers have the right to administer a preliminary breath test at the scene.
Alaska’s version of the implied consent law allows law enforcement officers to administer a preliminary breath test prior to arresting or charging a driver with an offense. The right to conduct this preliminary breath test is based on probable cause such as erratic driving, breaking a traffic law or having an open container in the vehicle. Drivers have the legal right to refuse the preliminary breath test until they are arrested. Refusal of a breath test after being arrested is a crime with penalties equivalent to those of being convicted of a DUI.
If you have two or more DUI or refusal convictions in the five years prior to your most recent charge, the DUI becomes a class C felony. A felony DUI in Alaska carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 120 days. That minimum is increased to 360 days in the case of fifth and subsequent offenses.
A felony DUI carries an additional mandatory minimum fine of $10,000 or $20,000 if the offense is committed in a highway work zone and revocation of the driver’s license. Professional drivers will also permanently lose their commercial driving privileges if the felony incident occurred in a commercial vehicle.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Alaska?
Alaska residents operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher are charged with driving under the influence (DUI). This legal alcohol limit applies to drivers in passenger vehicles who are age 21 and over. Commercial vehicle operators can be cited for offenses with a BAC of .04 percent, and drivers not of legal drinking age can be charged if any amount of alcohol is detected.
The state takes DUI incidents very seriously. Penalties for misdemeanor convictions include:
- Fines. A person found guilty of DUI is subject to a mandatory fine of between $1,500 (for a standard first-time offense) and $7,000 (for a sixth or subsequent conviction).
- Incarceration. A first misdemeanor offense yields a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours while a sixth or subsequent conviction brings a mandatory incarceration period of at least 360 days.
- Loss of driving privileges. A mandatory license revocation period of at least 90 days is enforced following any misdemeanor DUI conviction.
It’s important to note that these are mandatory minimum penalties. More severe punishments are often administered when people are convicted of select DUI charges, especially when aggravating circumstances lead to felony-level charges.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Alaska
Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation represents another form of punishment for people with driving under the influence convictions – even first-time offenses.
An ignition interlock device:
- Is wired into the ignition of a vehicle
- Requires a driver to submit an acceptable breath test before an engine will start
- Must be installed at the expense of the vehicle owner
Despite drawbacks, most Alaskans convicted of DUI opt for installation of an IID given it is required for a person’s driver’s license to be reinstated.
Alaska DUI Penalties
In Alaska, a driver can be charged with a DUI if he or she is driving a vehicle while having a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. The driver does not need to demonstrate impairment to be charged. For a minor or anyone younger than 21 years old, the maximum BAC for drivers is zero percent. With regard to this aspect, Alaska is a zero tolerance state.
DUI is considered a serious offense and remains on a person’s record permanently. Alaska DUI penalties, even for a first time offender, can result in the loss of a driver’s license, along with the possibility of mandatory jail time, fines, participation in education or treatment programs and mandatory ignition interlock devices. For drivers who refuse to have their BAC tested, the consequences can include fines, jail time and license suspensions. The refusal penalties can be added to those for a DUI conviction.
DUI is taken very seriously in Alaska. First offenses carry the possibility of at least three days in jail and fines of up to $1,500. If the driver’s license is suspended as well, this is done for a 90-day period. Many drivers will also see an increase in their auto insurance rate following a DUI conviction, even as a first-time offender.
An added measure is the installation of a mandatory ignition interlock device into the driver’s vehicle. The ignition interlock device is a breath test that prevents a car from being started if the driver’s BAC is greater than a certain pre-programmed result. Various newer devices also require periodic breath checks while the vehicle is being driven. If alcohol is detected, the lights will begin flashing and the horn will beep continuously. Models of these devices vary in terms of the capabilities and precise functioning.
For a second DUI conviction within a 10-year period, offenders are required to serve at least 20 days in jail and to pay fines of up to $3,000. The mandatory ignition interlock device is used for these cases as well; however, vehicle confiscation is a sentencing option that is also available to the court. The driver’s license suspension period lengthens to one year. Alcohol education or treatment and assessment can also be utilized, although it is not a mandatory part of sentencing.
Alaska DUI penalties for third offenses are similar but more severe than those listed for a second offense: at least 60 days in jail, fines up to $4,000, mandatory ignition interlock device and possible vehicle confiscation. The driver’s license can be suspended for three years at this point. Additionally, if a driver has two or more DUI convictions during the five-year period just prior to a third offense, they will incur a Class C felony charge, rather than that of a Class A misdemeanor.