What is a DUI and a DWI in Alaska?
The Alaska motor vehicle code prohibits drinking and driving or operating a vehicle on a public road in Alaska. The Department of Public Safety is responsible for identifying and indicting erring drivers. However, erring drivers receive separate sanctions from the Alaska Judiciary and the Division of Motor Vehicles. All of these public agencies maintain publicly available records on drivers convicted of DUI in the state.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Alaska?
DUI (Driving Under Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired) refer to drinking and driving on a highway or public road in Alaska. Although these terms are interchangeable, the actual offense is Driving Under Influence, according to Alaska Stat. § 28.35.030, DUI refers to driving while under the influence of a substance that can alter cognitive abilities.
Law enforcement may still indict a driver if a chemical test taken within four (4) hours of driving shows a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08%. This standard is much lower for underage drivers who are indictable for DUI with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.02%.
What Happens When You Get A DUI for the First Time in Alaska?
When a law enforcement officer suspects intoxication in a driver, the officer shall perform a field sobriety test to gauge cognitive ability. This test is standardized, but the officer may request that the driver submits to a chemical test. The driver has the right to accept or refuse the chemical test. However, test refusal may result in unsavory penalties if adjudicated guilty in court and during the administrative hearing.
The officer shall issue a ticket for the traffic laws violated and also indict the driver for DUI. The case proceeds to an arraignment where the driver faces formal charges for the offense. Meanwhile, the Division of Motor Vehicles shall immediately suspend the driver’s license pending an administrative hearing for reinstatement. Simultaneously, the driver must appear in court for his/her bench or jury trial.
During the trial, the defendant may question the evidence’s admissibility, the working condition of the equipment, and other factors as defense tools to dismiss the charges. However, a good rule of thumb is to employ an attorney to reach a plea bargain with the court for lesser penalties.
How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Alaska?
Very likely. A DUI is a Class A misdemeanor in Alaska, and per Alaska Stat. § 28.35.030 (b), the guilty offender must serve at least 72 hours in a community residential facility. He/she also face punitive fines, installation of an ignition interlock device, and the restriction of driving privileges for at least six (6) months. Nevertheless, the presiding judge has the discretion to increase the penalties on the guilty offender. The Division of Motor Vehicles estimates the cost of a first DUI conviction on this webpage.
What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Alaska?
The following are the typical penalties for a DUI in Alaska:
- Fines: Drivers convicted of DUI must pay a minimum fine of $1,500, which is subject to increase depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense.
- Fees: Apart from the court fine, the driver also faces other fees that amount to over $24,000.
- Surcharges: Convicted drivers face must pay the court surcharge of $125, an amount that increases with aggravating factors.
- DUI Class: Alaska laws require DUI offenders to attend a DUI class. The class must be state-authorized, and the driver bears the cost of enrollment.
- Ignition interlock: This penalty is a statutory requirement for all offenders. Drivers must install an ignition interlock device, which prevents the driver from starting a vehicle if he/she fails a chemical test. The minimum period is six (6) months and increases with repeat offense and aggravating factors. He/she bears the cost of installing and maintaining the device.
- License Revocation: Alaska generally imposes a minimum revocation period of ninety (90) days. However, the driver may request a limited license, and the court may grant the request if the court determines that the driver’s continual driving is harmless to public safety.
- Financial responsibility: Drivers must present proof of an SR22 insurance policy as a requirement of license reinstatement. The cost of the insurance premium depends on the offender’s status.
- Demerit Points: A DUI is worth ten (10) demerit points in Alaska. When a driver accumulates twelve (12) points in one year or eighteen points in two years, the DMV shall suspend the driver’s license for a period without the option of restricted privileges.
- Defensive Driving Course: In addition to the DUI class, the offender may also have to complete a defensive driving course online or at any state-authorized facility.
- Community service: Convicted drivers are subject to up to 160 hours of community service.
- Jail time: Alaska laws require that convicted drivers spend at least 72 consecutive hours in jail. The place of incarceration is typically a community residential center, but the driver may serve a private residence sentence subject to electronic monitoring. The offender bears the cost of incarceration.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Alaska?
DUI convictions remain on the driver’s conviction and driving record for life. Alaska does not make provisions for the expungement of this offense. However, the state does allow offenders to request for sealing in limited cases, i.e., there was a case of mistaken identity or false accusation.
Meanwhile, interested persons may request public records on persons indicted or convicted of DUI in Alaska. For court records on the case, contact the presiding court using the information on this webpage; for driving records, complete and submit a request form to the DMV.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile;
- The location of the record or persons involved in the case, including information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Alaska?
Alaska laws do not consider DUI/sobriety checkpoints illegal, and law enforcement does not set up checkpoints. Nevertheless, a police officer may order a traffic stop if there is reason to believe a driver is under the influence of a substance. The officer shall then perform standardized field sobriety tests to this effect. Interested persons may perform a simple web search for active checkpoints or check social media communities for chatter on checkpoints.
What is an Aggravated DUI in Alaska?
An aggravated DUI in Alaska refers to a felonious DUI (a class C felony). Per Alaska Stat. § 28.35.030(n) refers to a third DUI indictment or a DUI that resulted in severe bodily injuries. Such offenders face a minimum fine of $10,000, license revocation, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for at least 60 months, and a minimum jail time of 120 days. The severity of the punishment increases with subsequent indictments.
What Happens When You Get a DUI in Alaska?
The driver shall receive a traffic ticket for the offense and face formal charges in court. If adjudicated guilty, the court shall impose the applicable penalties. In deciding the penalties for a DUI, the court shall consider aggravating factors such as the driver’s age, child endangerment, driving in a school zone, and conviction history. The defendant also has mitigating factors such as safety driving history, completing of defensive driving course, pre-existing medical conditions, and economic hardship. These factors help reduce the severity of the penalties.
Nevertheless, many DUI charges do not go to court. With the aid of an experienced attorney, the defendant may reach a plea bargain with the prosecution for lesser penalties. Regardless of the outcome in court, the driver must also request an administrative hearing with the DMV. Administrative sanctions are independent of court penalties and run concurrently.