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Alaska DUI Digest

Decoding DUI Arrest Language

Posted by John Roberson III | Jan 29, 2024 | 0 Comments



As an experienced DUI attorney in Alaska, I've navigated through a sea of unique cases over the past decade. A common thread among them is the intricate and often perplexing language used in police reports. Grasping this specialized jargon is essential, not just for lawyers but also for those facing DUI charges.

Understanding Police Jargon in DUI Cases

Police officers employ a specific lexicon in DUI arrests. Terms like MSOW (Male Slumped Over Wheel) or FSOW (Female Slumped Over Wheel) often appear. These might evoke images of a person dramatically sprawled over the steering wheel, but more often, they could be simply reclining or taking a nap.

"Contacted the driver" is another term that's frequently used. While it may sound casual, it actually signifies a formal interaction, potentially leading to a thorough investigation.

Then there's "I was advised," showcasing the formal nature of police speak. This phrase, often overlooked, can shape the narrative of an incident significantly.

The Impact of Police Language on DUI Cases

The terminology in police reports can heavily sway perceptions in DUI cases. For example, "slumped over the wheel" might imply severe intoxication. However, the actual situation could be far less dramatic.

My years in DUI law have taught me that deciphering this language requires not just experience but also an understanding of law enforcement practices. This expertise is crucial for an accurate interpretation of police reports and effective client representation.

Tips for Potential Clients

If you're puzzled by a police report, remember these tips:

  1. Police language is formal and protocol-driven.
  2. Terms used might not reflect the situation as you remember it.
  3. An experienced DUI attorney can help interpret the report and guide you through police procedures and terminology.

Experience Matters

In over a decade of handling DUI cases in Alaska, I've consistently encountered the unique and often cryptic language of police reports. Understanding this language is vital for legal professionals and those facing DUI charges.

Police reports in DUI cases frequently contain terms that can be misleading. Phrases like MSOW or FSOW might imply a driver incapacitated over their steering wheel, but often, they simply indicate someone resting in their seat.

I recall a case where a client was described as “FSOW, unresponsive to initial contact.” This sounded serious, but it turned out she was just napping in a parked car. Such clarifications can change the narrative entirely.

The language in these reports can greatly influence a DUI case's trajectory. For instance, "Contacted the driver" could range from a benign question to a serious inquiry. In one of my cases, this phrase was used to describe a conversation about a missed traffic signal, not the implied serious erratic driving.

Navigating a DUI charge requires understanding the procedural nature of police language. Here are some tips:

  1. Don't take police language at face value. It's often formal and can be misleading.
  2. Document your own recollection of the incident. Your account can provide crucial context.
  3. Consult an experienced DUI attorney. They can interpret police language and provide effective representation.


In summary, the role of an experienced DUI attorney is invaluable in interpreting the formal language of police reports. This expertise ensures that the true context of your case is understood and accurately represented.

This blog is not legal advice but a guide to understanding the complexities of DUI charges. If you're in such a situation, professional legal assistance is your best bet.

About the Author

John Roberson III

10+ YEARS OF COMBINED CRIMINAL DEFENSE EXPERIENCE 35+ CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS 500+ CASES ANDCHARGES RESOLVED 18+ YEARSIN ALASKA Experienced & Aggressive Criminal Lawyer About Law Office of John H. Roberson III, LLC John brings diverse experience, dedication, and legal knowledge to each ca...


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