To avoid a DUI in Alaska, you should know at least these five things.
I. DUI in Alaska
IV. Sobriety Tests
V. Avoid Arrest
I. DUI in Alaska
It’s a criminal act to drive under the influence. This is called DUI in Alaska.
For those age 21 or older it’s driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. However, for commercial drivers, it’s 0.04% or higher.
For drivers under 21, including adults 18 through 20, having any BAC over 0.00% is DUI in Alaska. Most states set the limit at 0.02% or higher. They do this for a very important reason. It’s to reduce the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.
The logic is simple. “Breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers are inaccurate. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. (That requires analyzing a sample of actual blood.) They only estimate it.
Another problem is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. For example, baked products such as bread contain alcohol.
A third reason is that everyone of any age produces alcohol naturally within their bodies. And they do so 24/7. This includes all drivers under 21.
The exact penalties imposed for DUI vary. Many factors cause these differences. They include such things as
- Driver’s age.
- Estimated BAC
- Type of license.
- The impairing substance(s).
- Any prior DUIs.
- Consequences of the DUI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
- Any minors in the vehicle.
- Skill of driver’s attorney.
- Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
- Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.
Age 21 or Older
The 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. Learn more about ignition interlock devices.
• 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.
Under Age 21
Drivers under 21 who have a breathalyzer reading (estimate) of over 0.00% suffer driving license suspensions. These are the lengths of those suspensions.
First time, 30 days.
Second time, 60 days.
Third time, 90 days.
Fourth or later times, one year.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?
III. The Costs
Getting charged with a DUI in Alaska is very expensive, as it is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.
The cost of a legal DUI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.
It’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.
Obviously, simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.
There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DUI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.
Knowing the high costs of a DUI is helpful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.
IV. Sobriety Tests
All states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.
However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, Alaska punishes those who use their right. They suffer
- License revocation for 90 days
- At least three days imprisonment
- Fine of $1,500.
- Ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle for at least six months. It prevents vehicles from starting if drivers have alcohol on breath. They must pay for installation, maintenance, and monitoring.
- Possible required alcohol safety action program.
Also, these penalties increase exponentially for each use of their right. For example, a second use may result in license revocation of one year, an extra 20 days imprisonment, a fine of $3,000 and an IID for at least one year.
Field Sobriety Tests
However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.
Naturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.
Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.
An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.
Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You won’t be happy with what you learn. However, knowledge is power. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.
V. Avoid Arrest
Obviously, one way to avoid a DUI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to have a Designated Driver or use public transportation.
Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.
So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal, except for drivers under 21. Maintain a low BAC.
These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.
- Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
- Take no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably fewer.
- Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
- Eat and snack while drinking. This is essential.
- Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
- Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
- Never engage in any drinking game.
- Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
Arrested for DUI in Alaska?
This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.
If you’re charged with a DUI in Alaska, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.
Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.
Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.
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___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)
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Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving. The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.
Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.
Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.
Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.
NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)
Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.