Alaska Alcohol Laws: Any Laws Surprise You?

Alaska alcohol laws cover the biggest state in the U.S. It has many dozens of dry and “moist” towns and villages. That is, they have imposed various levels of prohibition on themselves.


I.   Minimum drinking Ages
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

When visiting the state it’s important to know and follow its alcohol laws. They may not be the same as elsewhere.

I. Minimum Drinking Ages

Young people may want to work in the summer tourist season. Many of those jobs involve alcohol. Youths want to know the minimum age for working in such jobs.

These may be serving alcohol in venues for drinking on-site. Sometimes it’s tending bar. Other times it’s selling alcohol in a store for off-premises consumption.

Alaska alcohol laws are clear in this regard. Only those age 21 or older may be employed in these jobs. However, adults age 18 through 20 may work in a licensed eating place. But they  may not sell or serve alcoholic beverages.

alaska alcohol lawsPersons of any age under 21 may drink alcohol in private locations. A parent, guardian, or spouse at least 21 must be present. Many parents do this to teach drinking in moderation. They think it’s better to learn to drink in the parents’ house than in a fraternity house.

Buying alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. But those under that age may legally help police entrap sales clerks.

It’s a criminal act to use of a false ID. Alaska led in letting retailers sue those who use a false ID. They may recover losses from making what they thought was a legal sale.

It is illegal for anyone under 21, with a BAC greater than 0.00, to drive. That is, they may have no alcohol in their systems.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

alaska alcohol lawsAlaska’s laws allow licensed businesses to serve alcohol from 8 am until 5 am the following morning every day of the year except election days.

However, the state law permits local jurisdictions to pass their own drinking ordinances. Thus, they may restrict sales hours and days. Or they may choose to permit sales on election days. In reality, all of Alaska’s larger cities and many of its smaller communities restrict sales hours.

Licensed businesses may refuse to serve alcohol to a pregnant woman.

Purchasing Alcohol

alaska alcohol lawsIt’s unlawful for anyone under age 21 to buy, or attempt to buy, alcohol

The penalty for using a false ID is a fine of not more than $5,000. That’s in addition to imprisonment for no more than one year.

People may buy alcohol from outside the state under two conditions. One is that it’s for personal use. That is, it’s not for resale. The other is that they don’t live in a community that prohibits it.

It’s illegal to be intoxicated in any bar in Alaska.

Those under 21 may drink non-alcoholic beer or wine. That is beverages having less than 0.5% alcohol. Their no different legally than coffee, tea, or soft drinks.

Those under age 21 may not enter licensed premises unless with a parent, guardian, or spouse age 21 or older.

Driving and Alcohol

Alaska alcohol laws prohibit anyone under age 21 to drive with any measurable alcohol in their blood. Most states set the limit at 0.02 rather than 0.00. They do this for several reasons. One is that breathalyzers are inaccurate. They don’t actually measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). They only estimate it.

Another reason is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. A third is because of endogenous ethanol production. That is, every living person produces alcohol in their bodies 24/7. Therefore, setting the limit at 0.02 reduces the chance of falsely convicting innocent people.

Under Age 21

alaska alcohol lawsDrivers under 21 who have a breathalyzer reading (estimate) of over 0.00 have driving license suspensions. These are the lengths of those suspensions.

First offense: 30 days.
Second offense: 60 days.
Third offense: 90 days.
Fourth or later offenses: one year

Age 21 or Older

For those age 21 and older, the BAC limit is 0.08. And for commercial drivers, it’s 0.04.

alaska alcohol lawsThe mandatory penalties for a first conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) are significant.

  • Jail sentence for at least 72 hours.
  • Fine of at least $1,500.
  • Driving license revocation for at least 90 days.
  • Mandatory use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for at least 12 months after end of license revocation. An IID prevents the engine from starting if alcohol is on the driver’s breath.
  • Submission to alcohol and drug evaluation. Completion of any treatment program required by the evaluating agency.
  • Payment of surcharges. Also of any emergency response services, if needed, in connection with the DUI.
  • Reimburse the costs of imprisonment.
Driver Rights

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC test. However, if they do so, the state punishes them with both administrative and criminal penalties.

Even those acquitted of DUI face separate penalties for using their Constitutional right. Administrative penalties may include driver’s license revocation. Also installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) at the driver’s considerable expense. And the mandatory Alcohol Safety Action Program.

Drivers convicted of DUI who used their rights face a higher fine. Also longer license suspension and a longer DUI program requirement.

alaska alcohol lawsPunishments do not apply to refusing to submit to a field sobriety test. These are notoriously subjective and inaccurate. Indeed, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, people with a BAC of 0.00.

Lawyers strongly urge people not to take a field sobriety test. Officers learn persuasive ways to talk drivers into it. So lawyers say to politely refuse as many times as necessary.

Learn much more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.

Of course, never drive after drinking.

Boating and Alcohol

Alaska alcohol laws prohibit boating while intoxicated (BWI). That’s operating a vessel while under the influence of

  1. Alcohol.
  2. An inhalant.
  3. A controlled substance.
  4. Or any combination of the above.

A BAC of 0.08 within four hours of vessel operation is intoxication under Alaska alcohol laws.

These are the penalties for BWI.

alaska alcohol lawsA first conviction carries a fine of at least $1,500 and imprisonment for at least 72 hours.

For a second conviction, it’s a fine of at least $3,000 and imprisonment for at least 20 days.

A third or later conviction triggers a fine of at least $4,000 and imprisonment for at least 60 days.

Circumstances and the specific judge may add other penalties. They include vehicle driver’s license suspension for at least 30 days. And vessel forfeiture.

Using the Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC test is used against the operator in court.

III. Resources on Alaska Alcohol Laws

IV. Seek Good Advice & Information

Alaskan alcohol laws, as in other states, can often be hard to understand. A mistake can be costly. Lawyers spend years learning law. It’s not a do it yourself task. Don’t rely on this site. Or on any other site.

alaska alcohol lawsGet facts and advice about Alaska alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state. Alcohol attitudes and enforcement practices vary widely across this vast state. So it makes good sense to select a lawyer in the locality of concern.