If an Alaska police officer thinks you have been driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she will no doubt try to establish probable cause to take you into custody. Prior to that, the officer must have a legitimate reason to make a traffic stop, such as witnessing your tires veering over the yellow line or determining that you were speeding. If you’re suspected of DUI, things may get a lot worse before they get better, especially if you’re unaware of implied consent laws.
When you obtained a license to drive in Alaska, you consented to certain things when you signed your license. Under such laws, your signature constitutes an agreement that you will take a blood, urine or chemical test to determine blood alcohol content level if you’re arrested for suspected drunk driving. You’re also consenting to take such tests if a collision occurs while you’re behind the wheel.
You can lose your license or go to jail if you refuse a chemical DUI test
In Alaska, violation of implied consent laws is a misdemeanor crime. Even if it’s your first offense, the court can sentence you to several days in jail. You’ll also incur an automatic driver’s license suspension and may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
Remember that a police officer must establish probable cause to arrest you
To arrest you for suspected DUI, a police officer must determine probable cause. This is typically accomplished by asking you to take a field sobriety test. You’ll want to note that field sobriety tests do not fall under implied consent laws. This means that you do not have to comply with a request to perform such tests. These are preliminary alcohol screening tests to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest, which is separate from a chemical test administered after an arrest.
You’ll also want to remember, however, that if you do refuse to take a field sobriety test and wind up facing DUI charges anyway, a prosecutor can use the fact that you refused a field test as a means of incrimination in court. The same is true regarding a roadside breath test, which detects alcohol on your breath but does not measure blood alcohol content in your blood.
A DUI conviction can have far-reaching implications in your life
If a judge finds you guilty of drunk driving, the DUI conviction will appear on your criminal record. This can impede your ability to obtain employment. If you work in an industry that requires a license or certification, your right to practice might be restricted or revoked. If family members, friends, coworkers or neighbors learn of your conviction, it can mar your reputation as an upstanding citizen in your community.
If you believe that you were wrongfully arrested for DUI or that a personal rights violation occurred leading up to, during or following your arrest, you may request a case dismissal or challenge evidence as inadmissible in your case. Doing so may result in charges being dropped or, at least, enable you to achieve a more positive outcome.