Question: I recently heard talk between some co-workers that an acquaintance was arrested for drunk driving and is now facing possible felony charges. I recall reading about some changes in the law this year. What are they?
Answer: There were several changes in laws relating to DWI arrests, and many people have been finding out the hard way since they went into effect in July. Let's start with the fines. All the minimum fines went up two or three fold. A first-time arrest will cost the offender at least $1,500, not including court costs, legal fees, towing fees and more. License revocation periods also increased.
The legal limit at which a person is now considered legally drunk was dropped from .10 to .08 (blood alcohol content). Your acquaintance may have just learned that the felony DWI statute also changed this year. The "look back" period increased from five to 10 years for counting prior DWI convictions. A third conviction in 10 years, even from outside jurisdictions, is a felony.
Now pay attention, chronic DWI drivers: Your felony DWI will cost you a mandatory minimum $10,000 fine. You will most likely serve well over a year in jail, possibly several depending on circumstances. And now forfeiture of the vehicle being driven at the time is mandatory.
The Alaska State Troopers produced a video titled, "DWI: Alaska's deadly plague." It is available for groups or individuals. Contact your local trooper office if you would like to borrow a copy.
If you have questions you would like to ask a trooper, send them to Alaska State Troopers, P.O. Box 817, Seward, AK 99664, or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.
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