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D.C. DUI Report: “Epidemic” of Female Offenders

by | Feb 18, 2013

Recently, researchers gathered in D.C. to present data on an “epidemic” of female drunk drivers.

Our D.C. DUI lawyers have known for some time that women are being arrested at an increasing rate for impaired driving offenses.

The Transportation Research Board’s report, released at its most recent annual conference, was a look at female DUI trends in an effort to answer the “why,” after the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that female DUI arrests rose by approximately 30 percent nationwide between 1998 and 2007.

There are actually numerous reasons for this. For one thing, female drivers outnumber male drivers in the U.S. by about 2 million. More women on the road means of course more are going to be arrested for DUI offenses.

But also, there has been an increase in binge drinking among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A survey from that agency found that approximately 15 million women in the U.S. binge drink at least three times monthly. Binge drinking is defined for females as the consumption of four or more drinks in a sitting.

Those most at risk were high schoolers and younger women. About 1 out of every 5 high school females reported excessively drinking in the last month, while about 1 in 8 women ages 18 to 34 reported the same.

The reason for this could be multifaceted, and in no small part to due to the fact that alcohol marketing to women has increased significantly in the past decade. Namely, we’ve seen a massive unveiling of new products such as fruit-flavored vodkas and spiked lemonade. There is no question, say researchers, that such products are clearly designed and marketed to women.

Similar marketing campaigns are gunning hard for young people too, so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen an increase in youthful, female drinkers.

Studies have proven that women tend to be more risk-averse than men from a neurological standpoint, and drunk driving is certainly a risky behavior. But the transportation board’s research, which conducted a series of focus groups involving women who had been arrested for DUI, and found a few common threads. Typically, they fit into one of the following categories:

  • Young women who felt pressured by peers to drink
  • New mothers who began to binge drink after their babies were born;
  • Older women with empty nests, trying to cope with the stresses of ill parents or a recent divorce.

From a DUI attorney’s standpoint, cases involving women are treated no differently than men. But it is important for women to understand that they could be more at risk for a DUI arrest than their male counterparts because it is generally going to take less alcohol for them to be legally considered drunk. So your boyfriend or husband could drink the same two glasses of wine you do and not be considered legally drunk, while you will.

Generally, men tend to drink more than women at all ages and stages of life. However, females who have repeat offenses tend to have higher rates of mental illness and other disorders. In those cases, in addition to closely analyzing whether the arrest itself was legal and proper, we can often successfully petition the court to substitute substance abuse or mental health treatment over jail time or in exchange for dropping some of the more serious charges.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.