What are Alaska Traffic Court Records?
Alaska traffic court records contain the official records and reports created during court hearings regarding Alaska traffic violations and infractions. They may include a compilation of an individual’s driving history-driving permits, driving assessments, date of issuance of the license, vehicle insurance, allegations and convictions of traffic offenses, crash history, traffic tickets, points on the driver’s license. Records may also provide information on equipment and parking citations, traffic tickets, court fees, verdicts, trial evidence, minutes, and all documentation connected to the traffic court proceeding.
Which Courts in Alaska Have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation Matters?
The Traffic and Minor Offenses division of District and Magistrate courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases of traffic violations in Alaska. Defendants dissatisfied with court judgments (as the case may be) may appeal to the Superior court for retrial. It should be noted also, that cases of a traffic violation with criminal intent or felony may be treated as traditional criminal cases and as such can be tried in courts of higher authority.
How Do I Find an Alaska Traffic Court Record?
Copies of state traffic records in Alaska are available at the records department for public inspection at the court where the case was filed. Requests for copies may be made by completing statutory forms, which must be submitted either in person, by fax, by mail or email to the court of interest. The purpose of the request (employment, research, or personal custody) determines the processing charges. Driving records are also accessible at the DMV unit.
Additionally, publicly available traffic court records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
Can Alaska Traffic Records Be Sealed or Expunged?
Yes. Alaska traffic records are sealed or expunged in cases of dismissal of the case, search warrant records, or by court order to protect the victim’s rights.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Alaska
Traffic violations in Alaska can be categorized into two:
- Moving traffic violations such as driving beyond speed limits, driving under influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving on the wrong lane, reckless driving, disobeying traffic light signals; and
- Non-moving traffic violations ( also called infractions) such as parking at unauthorized places, expired vehicle documents, incomplete vehicle items
Either category makes an individual liable to being handed a traffic ticket. A traffic ticket is also referred to as a citation, which is essentially a charging document that contains the following information:
- The naming of the individual as the defendant,
- The statute /ordinance that has been violated
- The facts of the offense committed
- A notice of the defendant’s rights
- A recommended process of responding to the citation
- Consequences of failure to respond
- The method of service of ticket/ citation.
A ticket is usually served by a ticketing officer (usually a police officer). Depending on the severity of the violation, there are at least three ways of responding to a traffic ticket in Alaska:
- Where the citation reads “optional court appearance”, defendants have the option of not being arraigned in court. The defendant must plead a “no-contest” and pay the traffic ticket. The defendant may also request a hearing date at the court to have a judge explain the charges and rights before making a plea. On the other hand, the defendant may enter a plea of “not guilty” and ask for a hearing in court.
- With correctable offenses, the defendant must provide evidence of corrected deficiency as is prescribed in the ticket; pay the ticket fine; request a hearing date to have judge explain the charges and rights before entering a plea, or plead “not guilty” and request for a trial
- With mandatory court appearance, the case must be tried in court or a plea of " not guilty” must be submitted.
All processes must be completed within 30 days, irrespective of the decision of the defendant. A warning notice of 15 days is further given where there is a prior default. Failure to comply within the time frame may lead to a number of combined penalties:
- Assessment of points against the defendant’s driver’s license ( this may lead up to the revocation of the driver’s license),
- Forfeiture of seized items,
- Extra fines in court and collection costs, and
- Restitution as required by law.
The Alaska traffic law permits defendants to request for an extension of time, either to pay fines, request for telephone participation in the trial, or a rescheduling of the trial date, even in cases of emergency needing a fast-tracked appointment.
How Do I Look Up My Traffic Ticket in Alaska?
Traffic ticket details in Alaska are publicly available online for free. The case name ( where there is mandatory court appearance or case is being tried in court), vehicle license, driver’s license, or ticket number can be used as search terms to locate the citation on the site. They are also available for inspection at the court where the citation/ticket was filed at a small processing fee. All citations are typically filed with the court clerk in the municipality where the traffic violation occurred.
Traffic tickets may also be accessed as a part of the individual’s driving record at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the State Department of Administration online( by email, self download) or at the local DMV office at a small processing fee. The general rule of confidentiality of certain cases applies to traffic records in Alaska, such as cases of persons below 21 years of age, or cases dismissed at first hearing.
How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Alaska?
Most traffic offenders opt for payment of fines where the option is available for the sole reason of avoiding trial. However, fines could be costly and in many cases lead to a rise in insurance rates for the individual. The legal implications of payments may also reflect negatively on the driving records of the defendant.
Payments could be made in at least three ways:
- Online: by following the step- by- step instructions for payment on the site. Where the green “Pay” button is not active or is missing, it means that the fines are not payable online and the payer must proceed to pay using alternative routes at the court where the ticket was filed.
- By mail: a cheque or money order can be mailed to the court where the case was filed.
- In Person: payments could be made in cash, cheque or money order at the court location.
All non-cash transactions must be made payable to the state of Alaska, with the ticket number clearly on the cheque or money order.
Some traffic ticket fines are not payable to the state of Alaska, but to the municipal collection system where the violation occurred. This often reflects when the ticket citation cannot be tracked in the central court records, in which case the defendant must proceed to the court where the citation was filed for information.
How to Contest a Traffic Ticket in Alaska Court
Some individuals decide to contest a traffic ticket in a court in Alaska. This is usually preceded by a “not guilty " plea entered by the defendant and a filing for a case in court. Case filing by the defendant is free in Alaska, and all legal rights of the defendant remain intact at the time of trial, such as the right:
- To remain silent.
- To hire a lawyer to represent the defendant in court.
- To request a rescheduling of the court appearance.
- To a public and fast-tracked trial before a judge or magistrate in the absence of a jury.
- To be deemed innocent until otherwise proven.
- To contest and interrogate witnesses.
- To a personal testimony.
- To serve subpoenas to compel witnesses to appear at the trial.
In standard traffic court proceedings, the officer who served the ticket must appear in court, otherwise, the case will be dismissed.
Ticketed individuals are permitted to appear in court with the traffic ticket, relevant paperwork, with evidence (called “discovery”) at the court. This could be a video recording of the event. There is also the right to invite witnesses in favor of the defendant, provided the information to be rendered is relevant to the case. The ticketed individual is permitted to interrogate the ticketing officer, as long as the conversation remains civil. Knowledge of the traffic laws of the state, as well as that of the municipality, will be an advantage. For the sake of clarity of thought and to safeguard from incriminating statements, the defendant should rehearse his/her own testimony prior to making an appearance.
The ticketed individual must be punctual, and wait for his/her own case, as there is a usual line-up of several traffic cases for trial. If the defendant will not be making an appearance as scheduled, the court must be notified at least a week prior to the court date. Should the court ruling be unacceptable by the defendant, he/she has a right to appeal to a court of a higher authority- the Superior court. The implications of contesting a ticket in Alaska may have direct consequences in terms of upward vehicle insurance rates, additional court fees, attorney fees, and time expended in court proceedings. All these must be considered before deciding to contest a ticket in court.