From neglecting to signal to forgetting to buckle, momentary lapses sometimes cause trouble on the road. In Alaska, when a driver runs afoul of traffic laws, it is a minor matter that can be resolved without a court appearance. Some serious issues can result in jail time or prison sentences.
Many of Alaska's traffic offenses are relatively minor violations carrying fines as low as $15 for an adult who fails to buckle a seat belt. Other violations, such as driving without insurance, are misdemeanors. Extremely serious matters, like third-offense driving under the influence, are felonies with possible prison terms.
New residents can avoid trouble by familiarizing themselves with Alaska's driving laws. While all states require child safety restraints and limit cell phone usage, traffic laws vary greatly.
Alaska has different blood-alcohol levels at which it considers drivers to be under the influence:
- .08 or above for most people 21 and older
- .04 for commercial drivers
- Zero for those under 21
Refusing to submit to a test is considered the same as testing over the limit, and the offense carries an automatic fine and suspension.
Driving under the influence is strictly penalized, with an automatic three-day minimum jail sentence, 90-day license suspension, and six months of driving with an ignition lock device for the first offense. The third offense becomes a felony, with at least 60 days in prison and a three-year license suspension.
Penalties for traffic violations vary wildly, from a $15 fine for not wearing a seat belt to $500 assessed for driving without automobile insurance, though most tickets fall in the $50 to $150 range.
Conviction for moving violations, except parking tickets or citations issued to pedestrians, also result in points being assessed. The number of points depends on the magnitude of the violation; driving up to 9 mph over the limit is two points, while driving under the influence is 10 points. Accumulating 12 points over the course of 12 months triggers a license suspension or revocation.
Drivers can reduce their points totals by completing defensive driving courses.
Resolving Matters in Traffic Court
If the officer does not check "mandatory court appearance" on the citation, simply pay the fine amount listed within five business days and that ends your case. If the citation is marked "correctable," you can make required equipment repairs and produce proof before an officer, who will dismiss the ticket.
If you want to contest the allegation and appear in court, check the appropriate box on the citation and mail it to the issuing agency within five business days of receiving the ticket. For most violations, a trial before a judge or magistrate will be scheduled—there are no jury trials for traffic cases.
Excessive points accumulated on a license can mean a suspension or revocation, and some offenses, such as driving under the influence, trigger automatic suspensions. The Department of Vehicles will notify you of any action against your license, and you will have an opportunity to appeal.
There is a $100 fee to reinstate a suspended license and a fee that can reach hundreds of dollars to reinstate a revoked one. If your license is revoked, you might have to retake written, road, and vision examinations before driving privileges are restored.
Seeking Legal Help
Sometimes it is simpler to just pay the fine for minor traffic violations, but in other instances the case is more complicated or there are bigger stakes such as employment loss or possible license revocation. Consult a Delaware attorney for advice under such circumstances.