As Women Drink More, Female DUI Arrests Rise, Statistics
By: Mary Ann Pekara
A report in the Associated Press explores the growing number
of women who are found behind the wheel and under the influence of drugs or
Lisa A. Flam also notes that women are more likely than men
to be intoxicated behind the wheel with children in the car.
Nationwide data shows that men still drink more than women
and are the primary demographic involved in DUI, but the gap is closing. The rate of men arrested for DUI has actually
fallen while the rate of women involved has risen.
There are numerous theories as to why women are involved in
growing numbers of DUI cases. They may
be feeling greater pressures at work or at home, or both, and these pressures
may see them on the road more frequently while also prompting more reckless
behavior in some cases.
"Younger women feel more empowered, more equal to men, and
have been beginning to exhibit the same uninhibited behaviors," says Chris
Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Another theory suggests that historically, police have been
more likely to let women off the hook, but that times have changed.
In 2007, 28.8% more women were arrested for driving
under the influence of alcohol than in 1998, according to FBI data that covers
a little more than half the country. Comparing male statistics over the same span shows that men were
arrested 7.5% less.
"Women are picking up some of the dangerously bad habits
[more commonly associated] with men," says Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against
In Westchester County, New York, the number of women
arrested for DUI offenses is up this year, and officers have noticed more women
with their children in the car during offenses.
Tom Meier, the director of Drug Prevention and stop DWI for
the county notes the disturbing trend:
"We realized for the last two to three years, the pattern of
more female drivers, particularly mothers with kids in their cars, getting
arrested for drunk driving."
A federal study has found that the number of women who
report abusing alcohol (defined in the study as more than four drinks in a day)
has risen by multiple percentage points over the last decade. The rate rose from 1.5 to 2.6%
from 1993 to 2002, and the rate of alcohol abuse among women ages 30 to 44 has more
than doubled over the same span of time.
The federal government has taken notice. The Department of Transportation will begin
its annual crackdown on drunken driving behavior later in August, and this
year, the campaign will focus on women. As the gender gap closes, more and more women will face an
equal-opportunity court system eager to drive the statistics back into decline.