When it comes to drinking and driving in the state of Alaska, the Ignition Interlock laws are the same in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Wasilla, Sitka, Kodiak, and every other city and town. Because of the consequences, a couple of the first questions most people ask after a DUI arrest is “will my driver’s license get suspended, and do I need to get an Ignition Interlock device installed on my car?” The AK criminal courts throughout the state operate like many others in the country by passing down a number of penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders including possible jail time, monetary fines, a license suspension, and even the possibility of having to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). In addition to having varying penalties for offenders, the severity of these penalties increase with the number of previous offenses. It is also important to note that a driver convicted of even a first offense DUI charge, will have pay for the cost of installing the interlock car Breathalyzer and it’s monthly maintenance fees. The only possible way to avoid the expensive consequences of the interlock requirement and additional DUI costs, is to get the legal help necessary to prevent a conviction of the offense.
In the state of Alaska, drivers operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more are considered to be impaired as well as violating state law. Government research has determined that a BAC of 0.05 percent is enough to impair most individuals’ ability to drive and that a BAC of 0.08 percent is enough to impair every individual’s’ ability to drive. This research is what drives the standard for BAC levels in all states.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Alaska?
The state of Alaska does use a number of different penalties to punish individuals found guilty of DUI. First time offenders in this state spend a minimum of 72 hours in jail, pay a fine of $1,500, serve a minimum 9-day license suspension, and are required to use an IID. Second time offenders, or those with a previous DUI conviction within the last 15 years, face harsher penalties including spending a minimum of 20 days in jail, paying a fine of $3,000, submitting to a minimum one-year license suspension, and having to use an IID.
The state of Alaska also implements a number of other penalties aside from those outlined here. These penalties can include (1) being required to take medication to prevent the drinking of alcohol while incarcerated or out on probation or parole, (2) not being able to operate a vehicle while on probation unless it is outfitted with an approved IID, and (3) the court having the option to order a drug and alcohol evaluation, screening, referral, and program requirements for an alcohol safety action program as a condition of parole or probation.
Under What Circumstances Can the State of Alaska Revoke and Suspend a Driver’s License?
Under Alaska state law, an individual’s driving privileges can be suspended for the following reasons:
- When a driver refuses chemical testing following a DUI arrest
- When a driver is operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more
- When a driver is operating any vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more
- When a driver under the age of 21 is operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol
- When a driver under the age of 21 refuses chemical testing following a DUI arrest
- When a driver under the age of 21 is found using a false driver’s license to obtain alcohol illegally
As outlined above, Alaska DUI law covers regulations for both adult drivers and drivers under the age of 21. Additionally, it has made provisions for drivers operating commercial vehicles, lowering the BAC threshold to 0.04 percent in order to be considered in violation. In all of the circumstances outlined above, it is legal for the state of Alaska to revoke and suspend an individual’s driver’s license for a DUI offense charge. A conviction or guilty plea also results in the further penalty and cost requirements for having to get an Ignition Interlock device installed in order to legally drive at all.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device and How Does It Work?
An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or often called car Breathalyzer, is a mechanical device very similar to how the standard Breathalyzer test machine works which is used by law enforcement and other Alaska agencies to determine an individual’s BAC. The IID is installed in an offender’s’ vehicle, either on the dashboard or in a similar area. This equipment requires offenders to blow into the device in order for it to determine their BAC – should BAC be above the device’s pre-programmed threshold, offenders are unable to start the vehicle. Additionally, the DUI interlock information is reported electronically to the appropriate AK authorities and local court.
When is Using an Ignition Interlock Device Required in the State of Alaska?
The state of Alaska has established legislation requiring the use of the Ignition Interlock device for certain offenders convicted of DUI or other drinking and driving offenses. Courts in the state of Alaska order the required installation and maintenance of an IID in the following circumstances:
- For first time offense convictions in which the offender’s license has been suspended for a period of 90 days, the use of an IID is required for one year during probation.
- For second time convictions that are NOT a felony in which the offender’s driver’s license has been suspended for one year, an interlock is required for a period of two years during probation.
- For any convictions based on the offender’s refusal to submit to chemical testing, the court is required to order the offender to install and maintain a DUI Ignition Interlock (the length of required use in this scenario depends on the number of previous convictions).
The Alaska court system can order any offender to have to use and maintain an IID in order to drive. When this occurs, the Department of Motor Vehicle is required to place a “C” restriction on the offender’s driver’s license in order to indicate that he or she has been ordered to use an IID – additionally, the words “IID REQUIRED” are printed on the back of the offender’s physical driver’s license under the “Restriction” heading. For those using a limited driver’s license, the words “Ignition Interlock Device Required” are printed in bold letters on the paper license.
Who is Responsible for Paying for the Cost of an Ignition Interlock Device?
In almost all DUI cases in the Alaska court system, offenders have been responsible for paying for the costs associated with having to use an Ignition Interlock, which includes installation, maintenance, service, and removal charge when the mandatory use period has ended. Offenders should expect to pay upwards of $100 to have the device installed and between $50 and $100 a month in leasing fees. It is important to keep in mind that these numbers are simply rough estimates – offenders could pay more or less depending on their IID provider and their geographical location.
What is the Process of Installing an Ignition Interlock Device in Alaska?
When offenders are ordered to use an IID, they have to obtain and have the device installed by a state approved Ignition Interlock provider. There are a number of approved interlock providers throughout the state of Alaska, and a list of these providers can be found on the Alaska Department of Correction’s website. For offenders living in remote or “off highway” areas where vehicle registrations are not required, it is possible for the judge to not require the use of an Ignition Interlock device machine.