A recent study released by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of traffic safety issues, discovered that drunk driving has increasingly become an equal opportunity crime, with vastly more women being arrested today for driving drunk than in the past. According to the study, the number of women who have been arrested or charged with DUI has doubled over the past three decades. Though drunk drivers are still more likely to be male, the percentage of female drunk drivers has risen substantially. Today, around 25 percent of those who are arrested for drunk driving in the U.S. are women. The Bureau of Justice says this represents a large increase from the nine percent of drunk driving arrests that women made up back in 1980.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation was surprised by the numbers and decided to dig deeper into the matter, conducting focus groups with women who had been arrested for drunk driving. The investigation discovered that those women who have been charged with DUI are far more likely to either be single, separated or divorced than the female population as a whole. In fact, nearly fifty percent of those arrested for DUI were not currently in a relationship.
The focus groups also discovered that the drunk driving incidents that led to criminal charges tended to happen after stressful life events. Almost all of the women interviewed claimed that their arrests occurred during a bad time in their lives, many times following a death in the family or an important breakup.
Another fact that further paints a picture of the kind of women who are most likely to be arrested for drunk driving is that more than 75 percent said they were on a prescription medication for treatment of anxiety or depression. Female drunk drivers were overwhelmingly likely to be under the care of a psychologist or psychiatrist and a majority admitted to being on more than one prescription medication at the time of their drunk driving.
Researchers say that their study helped them create three broad categories that most female drunk drivers fit into. One group includes young women, typically in their late teens and early 20s, who drink socially to have fun and fit in with their circle of friends. Another group are married, typically middle-aged women who drink to help combat depression, anxiety or loneliness. Finally, the third group of typical drunk drivers identified by researchers includes those older women who are coping with an empty nest, either because their children moved away, they went through a divorce or they suffered a death in the family.
The study was released by the organization in the hopes that women who fit these categories for being at risk of a drunk driving arrest could take notice. Drunk driving has serious legal and personal consequences, regardless of a person’s gender, and if you know you fit into a category that is more likely to be arrested for drunk driving, the hope is that you can take action to ensure a DUI never happens to you.
Related Source: “Number Of Women Arrested For DUI Has Doubled Over Past 30 Years,” published at LosAngeles.CBSLocal.com.