Driving Without a License in Alaska

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Alaska?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident.  (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired).  AK Stat § 28.15.011 states that “Every person exercising the person's privilege to drive, or exercising any degree of physical control of a motor vehicle upon a highway, vehicular way or area, or other public property in this state, is required to have in the possession of the person a valid Alaska driver's license.”; or
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense (Alaska § 28.15.291) is a class A misdemeanor and may result in a sentence of 10 days of jail time and/or 80 hours of community service. Second offenses require mandatory jail time and may result in vehicle impoundment.

Are there any exceptions?

The following persons are exempt from driver licensing under Alaska law:

(1) an employee of the United States government while operating a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States government and being operated on official business, unless the employee is required by the United States government or an agency of that government to have a state driver's license;

(2) a nonresident who is at least 16 years of age and who has a valid driver's license issued by another jurisdiction; however, an Alaska driver's license must be obtained by the end of a 90-day period after entry into the state;

(3) a member of the armed forces of the United States who has a valid driver's license issued by another jurisdiction when the permanent residence of the member is maintained in that jurisdiction;

(4) a person when driving an implement of husbandry, as defined by regulation, that is only temporarily driven or moved on a highway;

(5) a person when driving or operating an off-highway vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or other vehicle not designed for highway use as specified by the department by regulation;

(6) a person who is at least 16 years of age with a valid driver's license from a jurisdiction other than Alaska while driving a motor-driven cycle; however, an Alaska driver's license for driving a motor-driven cycle must be obtained by the end of a 90-day period after entering the state;

(7) a person when operating an electric personal motor vehicle; and

(8) certain drivers in the United States military service who are operating commercial motor vehicles for military purposes; in this paragraph, "certain drivers in the United States military service.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult.  That’s because once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in Alaska?

Alaska law requires that the duration of a driver's license match the expiration date of an authorized person's stay in the United States. The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles may issue a driver's license with duration of less than five years if the person is authorized to stay in the United States for less than five years. If the visa period is indefinite, the department may issue a one year license that can be renewed for up to five years without charging renewal fees

 

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