Traffic Violations in Alaska
Drivers in Alaska commit traffic violations when they disobey the rules regulating the operation of vehicles on state roads and highways. These violations constitute unlawful activities perpetrated when an individual is operating a motor vehicle or simply using the road facilities. Traffic violations are generally outlined in the motor vehicle codes and enforced by the state courts, law enforcement, and the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
To dissuade road users from engaging in behaviors that might endanger lives and property, the state court system and the DMV impose penalties such as license points, suspension or revocation of a driver's license, and, in the worst-case scenario, incarceration. Generally, these penalties vary according to the severity of one's violation. In Alaska, records of traffic violations are included in the offenders Alaska traffic records.
Types of Traffic Violations in Alaska
Traffic offenses in Alaska are typically classified as moving and non-moving offenses. Non-moving offenses occur when a stationary vehicle violates the rules of the road. In most cases, these violations occur due to carelessness in parking or malfunctioning vehicle equipment. Because they seldom endanger human life, the state generally regards them as less serious traffic violations. Examples include:
- Parking in front of a fire hydrant
- Driving with an expired registration or insurance
- Parking in a designated "no parking" area
- Driving with defective vehicle equipment
Meanwhile, moving violations are more serious because of the damage or risk they pose to human life and property. Typically, these violations occur when a motorist violates the rules of the road while operating a vehicle. Examples include speeding, failing to yield, failing to utilize turn signals, running a red light, and driving under the influence.
A moving violation carries a range of penalties, including fines and points on the offender's driving record. Once these points accumulate, it can lead to the suspension of a person's driver's license and cause higher auto insurance premiums.
Alaska Traffic Violation Code
The Alaska Driver Manual and Title 13 of the Alaska State Code provide detailed information on the state's traffic regulations, traffic violations, and penalties. All road users in the state, including drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and even law enforcement officers, are governed by these laws, which are intended to influence their behavior on the road.
Observing these regulations helps improve the state's transportation system by allowing for the orderly and timely flow of traffic. The laws also protect road users by reducing the frequency of traffic incidents that lead to the loss of life or damage to property.
Alaska Felony Traffic Violations
According to Alaska law, a felony is any criminal offense for which the minimum potential penalty includes a minimum of one year in state prison. Most of these offenses involve serious bodily injury or pose a significant risk of serious physical injury to a person. They also have a high mortality factor, i.e., the potential to cause death. As a result, any traffic violation that results in such physical harm is classified as a felony traffic violation in Alaska.
Driving under the influence (when it causes serious injury or death) and hit and run are examples of Alaska felony traffic violations. These offenses are punishable by steep fines of up to $250,000 and prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Alaska Traffic Misdemeanors
Alaska traffic misdemeanors are offenses that have less serious consequences, both in their severity and penalties. Compared to felony traffic offenses, there is less property damage and a lower chance of fatality with misdemeanors. Another way to describe a traffic misdemeanor in Alaska is "an offense that carries a potential jail term of one year or less".
Generally, Alaska traffic misdemeanors are penalized with a $2,000 fine and up to 90 days in prison unless a different term is specified by law. Examples include driving with a suspended license, driving with an expired registration, driving under the influence, and driving without auto insurance.
Alaska Traffic Infractions
Traffic infractions in Alaska are the least serious traffic violations. Although someone who commits a traffic infraction breaks the law, the state does not charge the offender with a crime. Instead, a traffic infraction usually results in the issuance of a traffic ticket and payment of a fine. Typical examples include:
- Turning into the incorrect lane
- Failure to use a turn signal
- Failure to stop for pedestrians or traffic
- Failure to keep muffler noise under control
- Parking in a handicapped space or at a meter that has expired
- Failure to stop or yield
- Failure to signal
- Driving a vehicle without proper lighting
- Seat belt violations
Alaska Traffic Violation Codes and Fines
In Alaska, the penalties for traffic violations vary. However, they often involve the imposition of fines on an offender.
Typically, the fine penalty for Alaska traffic violations varies by the municipality where a motorist was cited, and the nature of the violation committed. Drivers who have been cited can review their tickets to determine how much they owe in fines.
Individuals cited for traffic violations in Alaska must also pay additional fees and surcharges. These fees and surcharges also vary by municipality. However, the exact amount should be printed on the ticket. If this is not the case, the individual may seek more information directly from the court.
How to Pay a Traffic Violation Ticket in Alaska
To make a payment online, the user must access the payment platform on the Alaska CourtView website. Individuals can also find payment instructions on the site. After paying the ticket, the transaction will be posted to the individual's credit card account, and the party will receive an electronic receipt in the mail.
Payment by mail
If the individual wishes to pay a ticket by mail, they may send a check or money order to the presiding court. Payment must be made by check or money order addressed to the "State of Alaska". The individual must also write the case or ticket number clearly on the check or money order.
Individuals who prefer to pay for their tickets in person may visit any court location. The courts accept cash, personal check, or money order as a form of payment, but some courts may also take credit card payments.
It should be noted that anyone who does not respond to their ticket within 30 days will receive a warning letter from the court. The letter will also grant the driver an additional 15 days to pay the fine penalty. If the individual does not pay within 15 days, the court will issue a default judgment for:
- The fine amount specified in the citation
- Up to $70 in court and collection fees.
- Restitution (if applicable)
- Forfeiture of any confiscated property
Moreover, if the initial fine is $30 or more, the person will be subject to the applicable surcharges mandated by law.
Individuals who have trouble paying or responding to a citation can ask for more time by filing a Request to Extend Fine Due Date with the court.
Traffic Violation Lookup in Alaska
Depending on the court handling a traffic violation ticket, individuals may search for traffic tickets using the Alaska Courts E-Pay System. It is also possible to call the traffic court located where the citation was issued if the ticket information is not readily available online.
Additionally, suppose an individual wants to obtain a list of their traffic violations in Alaska, as well as information about the violation points on their license. In that case, they can obtain driving records from the Alaska DMV. However, because a driver's data is confidential, inquirers may only obtain their records unless they have permission to obtain the record of another individual.
Interested individuals can obtain their official Alaska driving record online, by mail, fax, or in person.
It is possible to retrieve an Alaska driving record using the DMV's Driving Record Request service. When submitting the request, the requester will need to provide identifying information that matches their current driver's license information.
To order the record in person, the individual must bring the necessary documents to the nearest Alaska DMV office. These documents include:
- A completed Request for Driving Record form
- Proof of identification
- A $10 processing fee, payable in cash, check, or money order. Credit cards are accepted at some locations.
By mail or fax
To order by mail, the inquirer must submit a completed Request for Driving Record form and a check or money order for $10 made payable to the "State of Alaska" or "DMV". It is worth noting that the Alaska DMV will only accept checks with the requester's pre-printed name and address. The form and fee should be sent to the following address:
Division of Motor Vehicles
3901 Old Seward Highway, Suite 101
Anchorage, AK 99503
Finally, to order by fax, the inquirer must provide:
- A completed and signed Request for Driving Record (Form 419F).
- Credit card information (included on the form) to pay the $10 request fee.
The fax number is (907) 269-5202
How to Plead not Guilty to a Traffic Violation in Alaska
Pleading "not guilty" to a traffic ticket in Alaska means disputing the ticket. This means that the motorist who received the ticket believes that they did not violate the law. The procedure for filing a not guilty plea in Alaska differs from one municipality to another. As such, it is always good to get in touch with the applicable court to discover what actions should be taken. Nevertheless, the citation that the motorist received should contain information for pleading not guilty, such as:
- How much time the offender has to contact the court
- The fine amount
- The date and time of one's court appearance
- Whether or not the offender will be able to reschedule their court appearance.
When challenging a traffic ticket in Alaska, the initial actions to take are as follows:
- Check the "not guilty" box "box on the ticket
- Sign the ticket
- Include an accurate and complete postal address
After that, the individual can send the citation to the proper court by mail. (The ticket will have instructions on how to send the signed citation to the appropriate address.) Later, the Alaska court will respond with a notification of the scheduled court date and time. The motorist must appear in court on that date to formally enter a not guilty plea.
Every defendant must note that pleading not guilty to a traffic ticket can be complex. As a result, one must have sufficient proof and witnesses to establish their innocence. Legal representation is usually optional. At the hearing, the driver or their defense counsel (if applicable) will have the opportunity to call witnesses, make a legal argument, and question the issuing officer about the violation.
An impartial judicial authority will hear both parties' arguments and render a decision once both sides have presented their respective cases. If the final verdict is unfavorable, the motorist will be liable to:
- Pay the initial fine and possibly more
- Pay a higher amount for auto insurance
- Pay additional court costs
- Have the citation recorded on their driving record
A loss in court may also result in a license suspension as well as additional points being added to the driver's license, depending on how severe the violation was.
On the other hand, if the court's decision is favorable, the defendant will not be required to pay the traffic ticket fee, and the violation will not be recorded on their driving record.
Defendants can appeal to the Superior Court if they obtain an adverse ruling, but there may be additional fees for this. The individual will also be required to file a brief outlining the errors they believe the trial court made. Typically, a defendant has 30 days of being found guilty by a lower court to file an appeal.
What Happens if You Plead No Contest to a Traffic Violation in Alaska
Pleading no contest to a traffic ticket in Alaska signifies that a cited motorist neither agrees with nor disputes the traffic violation that occurred. By submitting this plea, a person waives their rights to:
- Hire legal representation
- Request a postponement of their court appearance
- A public and speedy trial before a magistrate or judge
- Be presumed innocent until proven guilty
- Confront and question witnesses against them
- Testify on their own behalf
- Subpoena witnesses to compel their appearance at a trial
The consequence of a no contest plea in Alaska is that the court will enter a judgment of conviction, and the defendant must pay the fine or serve the punishment associated with the offense. Unlike many other US states, taking a no-contest plea in Alaska can be used against a defendant in future civil lawsuits.
How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay on Your Record?
In addition to other penalties, Alaskan drivers who are found guilty of traffic violations are penalized by the imposition of points on their driver's license. These points remain on the driver's record indefinitely unless they are removed by the DMV - typically when the subject of the record has met certain criteria.
Can Traffic Violations Be Expunged/Sealed in Alaska?
In most cases, an individual cannot expunge (erase/seal) an arrest, charge, or conviction from their driving or criminal history in Alaska. This is because Alaska only permits the expungement of adult criminal records in extremely limited situations, and driving records are not among records subject to expungement.
Typically, the state will approve an expungement for a criminal record only when it can be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the record resulted from mistaken identification or false allegation. As a result, criminal traffic violations are usually not eligible for expungement.
However, individuals with points on their license may lessen the number of points on their record. They can accomplish this by enrolling in an Alaska defensive driving course, which will result in the removal of two points. They may also have two points removed from their license if they do not commit any traffic offenses for 12 months following their most recent conviction.
What Happens if You Miss a Court Date for a Traffic Violation in Alaska?
Missing a court date in Alaska can be more serious than losing in court. When an individual is issued a ticket for a traffic offense, they must come to court on the date indicated on the ticket. Failure to attend court on this date can result in:
- A default judgment against the individual, requiring them to pay the assessed fine
- Additional court surcharges and fees
- A warrant for the person's arrest
Some municipalities in Alaska may allow individuals to reschedule their court dates. As such, people who realize that they cannot make their scheduled appearance are urged to contact the appropriate court clerk ahead of time. Alternatively, an individual may request a new court date by filing Defendant's Request to Reschedule Hearing. This document must be filed at least one week in advance.
Finally, if a defendant lives far from the courthouse or has a good reason for not coming to court in person, the individual can file a Request to Participate by Telephone. It is best to arrange this appearance well before the scheduled court date. However, suppose this option is viable, and the individual has to present physical evidence, such as documents or photos. In that case, the party is advised to mail the evidence (including the case number) to the court several days before the trial.