Alaska Alcohol Laws: Any Laws Surprise You? Don’t be Fooled

This page will help you understand Alaska alcohol laws and avoid expensive fines or even jail. And wasted time and legal costs.

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 various levels of prohibition themselves. That’s through local option.

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


I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Other Alcohol Laws
III. Resources
IV.  Legal Advice

I. Minimum Age Laws

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 drinking elsewhere.

Alaska alcohol laws are clear in this regard. Only those age 21 or older may work in these jobs. 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 frat house. This approach seems to be effective.

Alaska alcohol laws make buying alcohol under the age of 21 illegal. But those under that age may legally help police entrap sales clerks or servers.

It’s a crime to use of a false ID. Alaska led in letting retailers sue those who use a false ID. They may recover losses from such attempts.

If retailers post a sign to this effect, they can sue anyone who attempts to buy alcohol illegally. The amount is $1,000 and retailers can use a small claims court. Retailer typically split the money with those who identify false IDs. This gives everyone a strong incentive to carefully examine IDs.

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

II. Other Alaska Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

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

Yet state law permits local towns and areas 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 fact, all of Alaska’s larger cities and many of its smaller areas restrict sales hours.

Licensed businesses may refuse to serve alcohol to pregnant women.

B. Buying Alcohol

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

It’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 jail 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.

Those under 21 may drink non-alcoholic beer or wine. That is, beverages having less than one half of one percent alcohol. They’re 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.

C. Driving

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%.

They do so for several reasons. One is that breath testers are not accurate. They don’t actually measure BAC. They only estimate it.

Another reason is that many meds and foods contain alcohol. A third is that everyone produces alcohol in their bodies 24/7.  Setting the limit at 0.02% reduces the chance of falsely convicting innocent people.

Under Age 21

Drivers under 21 who have a breath tester reading 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.

The mandatory penalties for a first conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) are severe.

    • Jail time 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 jailing.

Driver Rights

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

Even those acquitted of DUI face separate penalties for using their Constitutional right. Penalties may include driver’s license revocation. Also installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) at the driver’s expense. And also 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 lawsBut there’s no punishments for not doing a field sobriety test. These are not accurate. Indeed, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, people with a BAC of 0.00%. And they fail under ideal indoor conditions.

Police learn ways to talk drivers into taking a field sobriety test. While investigating, police can and do legally lie. They often say the law requires it. To the contrary. No state in the country requires it. So don’t be a sucker.

Or they argue that that you can prove your innocence by taking it. But this is backward. It’s the state that must prove you guilty!

Lawyers strongly urge people never to take a field sobriety test. They say to politely refuse. And to do so as many times as needed.

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

Of course, never drive after drinking.

D. Boating

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

    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 jail for at least 72 hours.

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

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

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

The state can argue in court that refusing a BAC test proves guilt. Of course it doesn’t. But it may convince jurors.

III. Resources on Alaska Alcohol Laws

IV. Legal Advice on Drinking Laws of Alaska

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 DIY task. Don’t rely on this site. Nor on any other site.

Get facts and advice about Alaska alcohol laws from an expert. That is 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.