Alaska DUI Laws: an Overview of Laws, Penalties & Fines

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The state of Alaska has some of the harshest penalties of any state for drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A drunk driving conviction can lead to thousands of dollars in fines, years in jail and even a permanent license revocation. A sentence for operating under the influence (OUI) can also hinder an offender's ability to find work, rent an apartment or get a loan.

Definition of OUI in Alaska

According to NOLO, Alaska refers to a person driving or otherwise in "actual physical control" of a vehicle, watercraft or aircraft while impaired as operating under the influence, or OUI. This is known in other states as DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). A vehicle does not have to be in motion for a DUI charge to occur; a person needs only to be behind the wheel with keys in hand and the ability to start the engine.

Like most states, Alaska follows "per se" driving under the influence (DUI) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits. Law enforcement considers an adult driver with a noncommercial license and a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher as impaired with no further evidence necessary. Drivers with a commercial drivers license (CDL) have a BAC legal limit of 0.04 percent, and drivers under 21 who have any amount of alcohol in their system face impairment charges.

First Offense OUI

A first offense OUI is a Class A misdemeanor in Alaska, and carries these penalties:

  • $1,500 to $25,000 fine.
  • Minimum 90-day license suspension.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the offender's vehicle for six months.

After 30 days, a driver can apply for a restricted license to travel to work, school or court. They must prove their employment and show completion of a substance abuse program to be eligible.

According to the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), drivers with a BAC of over 0.08 percent or those who refuse to take a breathalyzer or chemical test will see the immediate loss of driving privileges. They will receive a temporary driver's permit that is good for seven days, but cannot be used until 24 hours after issuance. The DMV will suspend their license for 90 days after issuance of a citation. After conviction on the OUI charge, the offender may get credit from the court for completed suspension days.

Second Offense OUI in Alaska

A second OUI within 10 years of the first is a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • Minimum of 20 days in jail. An offender can sometimes serve this time under house arrest. The court can also require them to take medication to prevent alcohol consumption.
  • A minimum one-year license suspension. After 30 days, a driver can apply for a restricted license to travel to work, school or court. For eligibility, they must prove employment and show completion of a substance abuse program.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the offender's vehicle for one year.

Drivers with a BAC of over 0.08 percent or those who refuse to take a chemical test will face immediate license seizure. They may receive a temporary driver's permit that is good for seven days, but cannot use it until 24 hours after its issuance. The DMV will suspend their license for one year, but after conviction, the driver may get credit from the court for completed suspension days.

Third and Fourth OUI Offenses in Alaska

Drivers in Alaska who have three or more OUI convictions within 10 years face felony charges. Penalties for a driver facing their third OUI are:

  • Minimum prison sentence of 60 days within 15 years of prior convictions. If third offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, the prison sentence goes up to 120 days.
  • Minimum fine of $4,000. If third offense occurs within 10 years of prior convictions, fine goes up to $10,000.
  • License revocation period of at least three years. If third offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, license revocation is permanent. An offender can appeal to have their license restored after 10 years if there have been no other convictions and they show proof of insurance.

Penalties for a driver facing their fourth OUI are:

  • Minimum prison sentence of 120 days within 15 years of prior convictions. If fourth offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, the prison sentence goes up to 240 days.
  • Minimum fine of $5,000. If fourth offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, fine goes up to $10,000.
  • License revocation for at least five years. If fourth offense occurs within 10 years of prior convictions, license revocation is permanent, but the offender can appeal to have their license restored after 10 years if there have been no other convictions and they show proof of insurance.

Fifth and Sixth OUI Offenses in Alaska

The penalties for a driver facing a fifth OUI are:

  • Minimum prison sentence of 240 days within 15 years of prior convictions. If fifth offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, the prison sentence increases to 360 days.
  • Minimum fine of $6,000. If fifth offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, fine goes up to $10,000.
  • License revocation period of at least five years. If fifth offense occurs within 10 years of prior convictions, license revocation is permanent. A driver can appeal to have their license restored after 10 years if there have been no other convictions and they show proof of insurance.

The penalties for a driver facing their sixth OUI are:

  • Minimum prison sentence of 360 days within 15 years of prior convictions. If sixth offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, the prison sentence increases to 360 days.
  • Minimum fine of $7,000. If third offense occurs within 10 years of previous convictions, fine goes up to $10,000.
  • License revocation period of at least five years. If sixth offense occurs within 10 years of prior convictions, license revocation is permanent. A driver can appeal to have their license restored after 10 years if there have been no other convictions and they show proof of insurance.

Commercial Drivers and OUI in Alaska

Commercial drivers who have a BAC of 0.04 percent or greater taken within four hours of a traffic stop will likely face an OUI charge and can lose their ability to drive for a year, according to Edgar Snyder and Associates. A person who transports hazardous materials will receive a three-year suspension. A CDL driver who commits a second offense while driving any vehicle may lose their ability to drive commercially for life, but the court may reduce this sentence to 10 years.

Alaska law dictates that if a driver operates a commercial vehicle while impaired, their first offense is equivalent to that of a person with a previous OUI. Therefore, a person holding a CDL faces the same penalties as a standard driver with a second OUI offense.

Zero Tolerance and OUI in Alaska

Underage drivers who consume any amount of alcohol and operate a vehicle are in violation of Alaska's zero tolerance law. When a blood or breath chemical test reveals alcohol in the driver's system, law enforcement prohibits that person from operating any craft for 24 hours after citation issuance.

First-time underage OUI offenders face a $500 fine. They must also perform between 20 to 40 hours of community service with a substance abuse education and treatment organization. For a second offense, a driver faces a fine of $1,000 and must perform between 40 to 60 hours of community service. For three or more violations, the driver must pay a fine of $1,500 and perform between 50 to 80 hours of community service.

Open Container Law in Alaska

Alaska Statutes Section 28.35.029 prohibits both drivers and passengers from having open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. Any alcoholic beverage in a partially empty container, unsealed or otherwise opened, falls under this law. Storage in the trunk of a car, behind the back seat or in another enclosed container in the absence of a trunk are exemptions to this rule. Passengers in a vehicle for hire with the capacity of 12 people or more, and those seated behind a solid partition separate from the driver are also exempt.

Alaska considers open container violations to be infractions, not crimes. Penalties are a $300 fine and two points on a driver's record. As it is not a criminal offense, there is no jail time, but it can lead to license suspension. Commercial vehicles are not exempted, so a CDL driver cannot transport alcohol unless it is cargo.

A violation carries a $500 fine, 90 days in jail and possible license suspension. Law enforcement will immediately issue an out-of-service order to the CDL driver and prohibit them from driving for 24 hours after citation issuance.

Implied Consent Law in Alaska

Find Law states that drivers in Alaska automatically give consent to chemical testing when they get behind the wheel. Law enforcement will request a preliminary breath test if they have probable cause to suspect impairment. Refusing to take a breath or chemical test (blood, breath and urine) is a separate criminal offense from OUI.

Implied consent penalties are in addition to those of OUI charges. A driver that refuses sobriety testing faces:

  • Minimum of 72 hours in jail.
  • $1,500 fine.
  • Installation of an IID for six months.
  • 90-day license revocation.
  • Jail fees of $330 for the first 72 hours, plus $14 a day thereafter.

Drug Impairment OUI and Penalties in Alaska

While there is no legal limit for marijuana impairment in Alaska, it is still against the law, no matter how much THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in cannabis) is in a driver's system. Instead of testing, law enforcement will look for obvious signs of intoxication from the use of marijuana and other drugs.

A driver convicted of their first drugged driving offense faces at least 72 hours in jail, a minimum $1,500 fine, a 90-day license suspension and installation of an IID in their vehicle for six months. A driver convicted of second OUI faces a minimum of 20 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, license suspension of at least one year, and IID installation. The penalties for a third offense are 60 to 120 days in jail, a $4,000 to $10,000 fine, a three-year minimum license suspension and IID installation.