What Are Alaska’s Texting and Driving Laws?

Distracted driving, especially due to cell phone use, is a significant problem in the United States. The issue is addressed in Alaska through specific laws targeting texting while driving. Understanding these laws is crucial for all drivers in the state.

Texting And Driving is Illegal In Alaska

In Alaska, texting while driving is a serious legal offense, classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This classification reflects the state’s zero-tolerance policy towards this form of distracted driving. For a first offense, individuals can face up to one year in prison and fines up to $10,000. 

Alaska law takes an even more severe stance when texting while driving results in a fatal accident. In these instances, the charges escalate to a Class A felony. The consequences for such an offense are significantly more severe, with penalties including up to 20 years in prison and fines reaching $250,000. 

Alaska’s law extends beyond just texting. The 2008 “Alaska’s Text Messaging Ban” also prohibits installing and using any electronic devices that can distract a driver, such as televisions and video monitors. These devices are illegal if they are in full view of the driver while the vehicle is in motion. This part of the law aims to eliminate various forms of visual distraction, thereby enhancing overall road safety.

Generally, distracted driving, including texting and using screen devices while driving, is considered a violation with a maximum fine of $500. However, if a distracted driving violation involves injuries to another person, it is classified as a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000. In cases involving serious physical injuries, the violation becomes a Class B felony, with penalties including up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000​​​​​​.

Alaska law is particularly stringent in cases of distracted driving resulting in death. In such scenarios, the violation is treated as a Class A felony, similar to instances of fatal accidents caused by texting while driving. Offenders can face up to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $250,000, emphasizing the severe legal consequences of such actions​​​​.

Since penalties for driving while texting in Alaska are stringent, the at-fault party could decide to mount a solid defense should you bring a claim to court. So, you want to hire an accident attorney in Alaska to represent you and chase the compensation you deserve.

The Exceptions

In Alaska, while the primary law prohibits texting and driving, several specific exceptions are outlined in the statutes. These exceptions accommodate essential communication and operational needs while maintaining road safety.

  1. Voice Communication and Caller ID – The law does not apply to portable cellular telephones or personal data assistants when they are used for voice communication or displaying caller identification information. This allowance ensures that drivers can stay connected for essential communications without engaging in the more distracting behavior of texting​​.
  1. Audio Equipment and Vehicle Information – Equipment displaying audio information, functions, controls, or vehicle information related to speed, fuel level, battery charge, and other safety or equipment details are exempt. These are considered essential for the operation and monitoring of the vehicle​​.
  1. Navigation and Mapping Systems – GPS and navigation systems, as well as maps, are permitted. This exception is crucial for drivers to navigate and reach destinations safely and efficiently​​.
  1. Visual Enhancement Equipment -Displays designed to enhance or supplement the driver’s view for maneuvering the vehicle or monitoring occupants seated behind the driver are allowed. These devices improve safety by aiding vehicle maneuvering and maintaining awareness of the vehicle’s surroundings​​​​.
  1. Vehicle Dispatching Information – Information systems for dispatching vehicles providing emergency road service, roadside assistance, passenger transport, or freight/package delivery are exempt. This ensures that these services, often critical, can operate effectively and respond promptly to service needs. 
  1. Highway and Utility Construction and Maintenance Information – The law makes allowances for devices used in highway construction, maintenance, repair, or data acquisition by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities or a municipality. Additionally, devices for utility construction, maintenance, repair, or data acquisition by a public utility are also exempt. These exceptions are vital for maintaining essential infrastructure and services​​.

The statistics on texting and driving underscore the importance of these laws. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes approximately 390,000 injuries annually in the United States. It’s estimated that one in every four crashes is due to texting while driving. The risk is especially high among young drivers, with teens being four times more likely than adults to be involved in crashes or near-crashes while texting or talking on a cell phone​​.

Texting While Driving Statistics

Texting while driving in Alaska is a serious offense with significant legal implications. If you are in Anchorage and have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a texting driver, you have the right to seek compensation. Contacting an accident attorney will be a step towards getting the justice and compensation you deserve.

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