Driving under influence (DUI/DWI) in AK is a serious offence. Understand the implications, your rights the hearing process and legal counsel
Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver’s blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In Alaska, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN ALASKA
In Alaska, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.
Having an Alaska license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of “implied consent” and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your driver license, privilege to get a license and privilege to drive being immediately revoked. 10 points will also be added to your record for refusing breath sample.
Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.
- The first offense is treated as a Misdemeanor and may result in imprisonment for minimum 72 consecutive hours and a minimum $1,500 fine. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID):
- 10 points will be added to your driving record.
- Your license will be revoked for 90 days.
- You may be eligible to drive using the Limited Driving Privilege and license can be reissued if you meet the reinstatement requirements. Limited Driving Privilege will require employment certificate and certificate of good standing from an alcohol counselling center.
- The second offense or two offenses in five years is treated as a Misdemeanor may result in imprisonment for minimum 20 days and minimum $3,000 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for one year.
- If two convictions occur within five years, the driver will face a five-year license denial. You may be eligible to apply for a Limited Driving Privilege once you complete at least two years of the five-year denial period.
- The third offense or three offenses in ten years is treated as a Class C Felony and may result in imprisonment for minimum 60 days and minimum $4,000 fine. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:.
- Your license will be revoked for three years.
- If three or more convictions occur for DWI or BAC or a combination of the two, the driver will face a permanent license revocation. You may be eligible to apply for review of driver license revocation once you complete entire term of the ten-year denial period. You may also have to forfeit your vehicle.
- The fourth offense is treated as a Class C Felony and may result in imprisonment for minimum 120 days and minimum $5,000 fine. Also, if convicted for the fourth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for five years.
- The fifth offense is treated as a Class C Felony and may result in imprisonment for minimum 240 days and minimum $6,000 fine. Also, if convicted for the fifth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for five years.
- The sixth offense is treated as a Class C Felony and may result in imprisonment for minimum 360 days and minimum $7,000 fine. Also, if convicted for the sixth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for five years.
- The court may order a driver’s license to be revoked if he/she possesses or uses drugs while operating the vehicle.
- For all above offenses you are also liable to pay surcharges and imprisonment costs.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- the court may order a minor’s license (under 21) to be revoked for operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, for refusing to submit to chemical testing, for using a false driver’s license to obtain alcohol. The revocation will take place even if the court does not find you guilty. Your license will be revoked for 30 days for the first conviction , for 60 days for a subsequent conviction for any alcohol or drug-related offense (including possession and use) while driving; for 90 days if you have 2 earlier revocations of this offense or one year if you have three or more earlier revocations.
- Your license will be revoked for six months and confiscated if probation is violated after the first conviction. Also may include a $1,000 fine and 48-96 hours of community work.
- If an under 18 year old with a provisional driver license is convicted of violating repeat alcohol consumption law then eligibility for regular driver license gets postponed by six months. In this case submit a new parents’ consent has to be signed before a notary public or DMV and representative.
- You may have to undergo Juvenile Alcohol Safety Program.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- You will be disqualified from your commercial driving privilege for one year, for your first offense if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- You will be disqualified from your commercial driving privilege for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for offenses of DUI/DWI.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
Alaska laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
- He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
- He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
Under this action, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will revoke your Alaska driver license. These hearings will only focus on if your breath test result was .08 or greater or you refused to give a breath sample and the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that you were operating or driving a motor vehicle while under the influence. These actions will occur even if the court does not find you guilty.
The driver can request in writing for an administrative hearing within 7 days of the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver his license will be revoked for 90 days for a first offense; for one year if you have been convicted earlier of DUI or Refusal; and for 3 years if you have two earlier Refusal or DUI convictions. Any alcohol related convictions or suspensions for the past 15 years will be considered to decide the revocation period. You may be eligible to drive using the Limited Driving Privilege only for your first offense or if last offense was before 15 years. This involves a $100.00 non-refundable fee. After the request is received, the DMV will supply a temporary license that is valid up to administrative hearing date. You can mail or deliver the request to:
DMV at Department of Administration
Anchorage Driver’s Licensing
1300 W. Benson Boulevard
Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503-3689
You may be eligible to drive using the Limited Driving Privilege the terms and availability for which will be subject to your treatment, driving and criminal history. The suspension or revocation begins 15 days after the final order of the hearing officer is mailed from the Division of Motor Vehicles. This involves a non refundable $100.00 fee.
If the driver is dissatisfied with the ruling, he can file an appeal with the court. He will, however, have to serve the suspension/revocation until the court reaches a verdict. If the verdict is the same as the administrative hearing, then the driver will have to complete the remaining period of his suspension/revocation and then file for reinstatement of the license. If the verdict goes in favour of the driver, then his license will be returned and the suspension/revocation will be cancelled.
The court may suspend sentence execution or grant probation if the person serves the minimum imprisonment he is eligible for. If your actions that led to conviction have caused a motor vehicle accident then the court may order you to pay some cost of emergency services (peace officer, fire department, ambulance service, emergency trauma technician or emergency medical technician) that arrive on the accident site. Driving when the license has been suspended or revoked is a Class A misdemeanour with a maximum penalty of up to one year imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Revenue, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Even those with Limited Driving Privilege have to apply for a new License. Reinstating a license after a suspension or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the court-ordered treatment program or a comparable program (the agency will send the proof to the Driver License Bureau once you have completed the program), pay the correct fee, and maintain proof of financial responsibility for two years from the date of suspension/revocation by filing SR-22, if you are over 21 years old..
- If you are being convicted for a second time, it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
- You can submit the reinstatement application and reinstatement fee in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles office near you. You can also send the reinstatement package by mail with an extra $21.00 fee for non-commercial licenses and $101.00 for CDL.
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON’T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
- Alaska DMV does not accept non-personalized checks. Pre-print your name and address your check.