Alaska Drugged Driving Laws

Learn about the penalties for drugged or high driving in Alaska.

Like many other states, Alaska has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, driving while impaired by marijuana or any other controlled substance is still illegal. This article explains and defines the laws that apply to driving under the influence of drugs and lays out the penalties of a drugged driving conviction.

Level of Drug Impairment That Can Lead to a DUI/OUI

Alaska's DUI laws (also called "operating under the influence" or "OUI") prohibit driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of inhalants or controlled substances. As physical control does not necessitate movement, an occupant in the driver's seat of a parked car could still face DUI charges.

Proving impairment. Alaska doesn't have a per se impairment limit for the consumption of controlled substances (such as an ng/ml limit for consumed THC) like some other states. So, in order to get a DUI conviction for drugged driving, the prosecutor must prove the driver was incapable of safely driving. In proving a DUI charge, prosecutors might use blood test results, expert testimony, and the observations of the arresting officers. Officers are trained to look for specific signs of impairment such as stumbling, unsteady eye movement, dry mouth, and slurred speech.

Intoxicating substances. Drugged driving violations are limited to the use of controlled substances and inhalants. These are substances designated by the government that pose risks of abuse and dependence. The list includes marijuana and cocaine, but also many prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines. The fact that the driver had a valid prescription for the medication isn't a legally valid excuse for impaired driving.

Alaska DUI Penalties

The penalties for drugged driving are the same as those for drunk driving and are based on the number of prior DUI offenses within the last 15 years. The offender must also complete a substance abuse evaluation, which the court can consider in setting the penalties and deciding whether drug education classes, treatment, or other programs are appropriate for the offender.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

72 hours to 1 year house arrest

20 days to 1 year

60 days to 1 year

Fines

$1,500 to $25,000

$3,000-$25,000

$4,000-$25,000

License Suspension

90 days

1 year

3 years

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

6 months

12 months

18 months

A restricted license is often available for a substantial portion of the license suspension period. However, even if the offense didn't involve alcohol, the restricted license will still require the installation of an IID.

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