Study Explores Why More Women are Being Arrested for DWI

The most recent drunk driving statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveal that men comprised 75 percent of all DUI arrests in 2011 and that roughly 40 percent of all males killed in motor vehicle accidents during this timeframe were under the influence of alcohol.

While this would seem to point to a growing problem of impaired driving among men, researchers say it’s actually the exact opposite. The number of women arrested for DWI has increased significantly, while the number of men arrested for DWI has declined gradually since the mid 90s.

Consider the FBI figures detailed above, which show that women comprised 25 percent of all DUI arrests made in 2011. At first glance, this may seem like a relatively low number. However, consider that this number stood at a mere 10 percent in the early 80s.

Interestingly, a study released by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation earlier this week offers a fascinating explanation as to why more women are being arrested for driving while intoxicated.

According to the study authors, DWI numbers among women are on the rise due to the simple fact that social norms, social control mechanisms and society as a whole have all undergone dramatic transformations over the last several decades.

The researchers arrived at this determination after carefully examining earlier research, speaking with various legal experts and substance abuse specialists, and interviewing roughly 200 women who had previously been arrested for drunk driving in California, Michigan, New York and Missouri.

The study also discovered the following trends among the women arrested for impaired driving:

  • The majority had children and were single, separated or divorced
  • The majority indicated that they experienced a “major life stressor” just prior to their DUI arrest
  • The majority acted as primary caregivers for their children, and were more likely to have physical and mental health needs than their male counterparts

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the importance of focusing efforts to begin to better understand this problem and to develop more effective strategies both to prevent and manage it,” reads the report.
Indeed, the study authors recommend the creation of specially tailored treatment and alcohol education programs for women.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Is driving while intoxicated becoming a bigger problem for women?

Given the potentially steep consequences of a DWI conviction — license suspension, fines, jail time, to name only a few — those facing drunk driving charges should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about their rights and their options.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, “DUI demographics point to higher mix of women,” Ted Gregory, September 12, 2013

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