Alaska’s DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

The consequences of a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI offense in Alaska.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Alaska. But you may be surprised by how Alaska's DUI laws define "under the influence" and "driving."

This article outlines the basics of Alaska's DUI laws (including how the offense is defined), the penalties for a first, second, and third conviction, and ways you might be able to avoid conviction and/or jail time.

Alaska's DUI Laws

To be convicted of a DUI, the prosecutor must prove two elements in court:

  • the accused was driving or operating a motor vehicle, and
  • the accused was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, these two "elements" require a bit more explanation.

How Alaska's DUI Laws Define "Driving" or Being in "Actual Physical Control" of a Vehicle

Alaska prohibits driving or operating a vehicle under the influence. This obviously includes impaired persons actively driving down the road.

But Alaska law also defines "driver" as anyone in "actual physical control of a vehicle." A person is in actual physical control of a vehicle if he or she is in the driver's seat and physically capable of starting the engine and causing the vehicle to move. In other words, you can get a DUI in Alaska without actually driving or even turning on the ignition.

How Alaska's DUI Laws Define "Under the Influence"

A person is considered to be under the influence for purposes of Alaska's DUI laws if:

  • his or her mental and physical ability to drive was perceptibly lessened by alcohol or drugs, or
  • he or she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more as tested within four hours of operation.

In other words, to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove an excessive BAC or actual impairment from alcohol or drugs.

The fact that a driver has a valid prescription for a certain drug is not a defense to impaired driving.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI Conviction in Alaska

Alaskan statutes set out the range of penalties for DUI convictions, which mainly depend on the number of prior DUI convictions the driver has.

How Long a DUI Stays on Your Record in Alaska

When considering priors, Alaska will only look at DUI and refusal convictions (implied consent violations) within the last 15 years. However, a driver with three DUIs in ten years can face felony DUI charges.

Jail Time and Fines for Alaska DUI Convictions

All DUI convictions result in fines, court costs, jail costs, and actual jail time, but sentencing alternatives do exist.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

72 hours to one year

20 days to one year

60 days to one year

Fines

$1,500 to $25,000

$3,000 to $25,000

$4,000 to $25,000

First offenders can serve the required jail time on house arrest or in a residential treatment facility. For a second-offense DUI, house arrest is an option if the driver completes 160 hours of community service.

Alaska's Substance Abuse Treatment Requirement for DUI Offenders

Drivers convicted of driving under the influence must complete a substance abuse evaluation. Depending on the results, the judge might order the offender to complete a treatment program.

Alaska's Felony DUI Penalties

Drivers who are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI (or refusal) within a ten-year period will generally face class 3 felony charges.

For a felony DUI conviction, the offender is generally looking at $10,000 to $50,000 in fines, permanent license revocation, 60 months with an ignition interlock device (IID), and a mandatory 120 days to five years in prison. This prison sentence can be even longer if the offender has more than two priors in the last ten years.

License-Related Penalties for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI Offense in Alaska

A DUI typically leads to license-related penalties. However, license-related penalties can result even without a DUI conviction—in many cases, a DUI arrest is enough.

Below, we explained how a DUI arrest and/or conviction can lead to license suspension and restrictions and the duration of these penalties.

Alaska's Implied Consent Law

After making a DUI arrest, the officer will generally request that the suspect submit to a breath or blood test. Refusing to take a test or failing a test with a BAC of .08% or more can result in license suspension as well as criminal charges.

Duration of Suspension DUI Convictions, Refusals, and BAC Test Failures in Alaska

The suspension duration is identical for test refusals, test failures, failed testing, and DUI convictions. The suspension periods are:

  • 90 days for a first offense
  • One year for a second offense
  • Three years for a third offense, and
  • Five years for a fourth or subsequent offense.

However, the penalties are not consecutive—meaning that a driver who fails testing and is convicted of a DUI will only face a single 90-day suspension for a first offense.

If the driver is found not guilty of the DUI in court, it may be possible to get out of the administrative license penalties.

Alaska's Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Requirements

In addition to license suspension, most impaired driving occurrences will result in an ignition interlock requirement following the suspension period. The IID requirements are as follows:

  • Standard DUI. Generally, a standard DUI conviction will require a six-month IID period following the license suspension. This period is increased to 12 months for a second offense and 18 months for a third offense.
  • Felony DUI. Although a felony DUI results in complete revocation of the driver's privileges, the operator can apply for a new license after ten years. After application, the driver must maintain an IID for 60 months.
  • Test Refusal. A driver who is suspended due to a refusal conviction must install an IID for six to 36 months depending on the number of prior offenses.

Generally, the driver will have to pay certain costs associated with having an IID in their vehicle.

Getting a Restricted License in Alaska After a DUI Revocation

After serving at least 30 days of the initial suspension, drivers can apply for restricted driving privileges. A restricted license requires an IID and may include limits on where and when the driver can operate.

Violating the terms of probation, failing to complete treatment, or driving outside of the restrictions will result in reinstatement of the initial suspension.

Alaska's Underage DUI Law

Alaska prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from having any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. An underage drunk driving (UUD) conviction will result in:

  • First offense. A first-offense UDD will result in a $500 fine, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and a 30-day license suspension.
  • Second offense. A second-offense UUD will result in a $1,000 fine, 40 to 60 hours of community service, and a 60-day license revocation.
  • Third offense. A third UUD carries a $1,500 fine, 60 to 80 hours of community service, and a 90-day driver's license suspension.

The judge can also order alcohol education classes or treatment. These requirements must be satisfied prior to license reinstatement.

Alaska's implied consent laws extend to UUD offenses and a driver who unlawfully refuses a breath test will similarly face the same penalties as a UUD conviction.

Also, an underage driver with a BAC of at least .08% or who is "under the influence" (as defined above) can instead be charged with a standard DUI.

DUI Plea Negotiations and Diversions in Alaska DUI Cases

Alaska does not prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases, so it might be possible for a DUI to be reduced to a "wet-reckless"' or similar charge.

Some prosecutors also offer deferred prosecution wherein the DUI charge will be dropped after the driver fulfills certain requirements such as treatment, paying fines, and completing community service.

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