Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) statistics show a twenty-one percent (21%) increase in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests among women during the nine year period between 2003 and 2012. Annual arrests among women increased from 174,000 to 650,000 nationwide. Interestingly, annual arrest among men decreased by nearly 17 percent during this same time period (780,000 down to 650,000 nationwide). Social science experts speculate that the increase in arrests of women may be due to more women being in the workforce so more miles are being driven by women and more driving occurs at night when they are more likely to be arrested for drunken driving. Additionally, experts believe that it has become more socially acceptable than it used to be for women to drink in public, especially among young women. Finally, many states have eliminated first offender diversion programs, so more women are being pushed into the criminal justice system without an ability to by-pass it.
The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reports that in Michigan the number of drunk driving crashes have decreased for both men and women. From 2003 to 2012 the number of drunk driving crashes for men decreased from 11,400 to 7,250. During this same time period, drunk driving crashes for women decreased from 3,203 to 2,563 for women. In 2012, 35 drunk driving crashes in Michigan were fatal for women and of these 68% involved young women between the ages of 21 to 34. Substance abuse scientists report that women metabolize alcohol differently than men do and they do it in such a way that they’re going to get more intoxicated at a faster rate. If a 150 pound man and a 150 pound women have the same amount of alcohol, the women will be at a higher blood-alcohol content quicker. With the legal driving limit for blood alcohol content dropping from 2003 to 2011 in many states, police are arresting more women for DUI’s and as explained above there are many causative factors. Perhaps more public service t.v., radio, and social media advertisements need to target young women warning them of their increased risks and encouraging them to use designated drivers.