An article in the L.A. Times reports that women are a growing demographic in DUI cases. According to the article, statistics show that nearly a quarter of DUI arrests in the United States are female suspects whereas in 1980, that number was only 9.3%. In spite of this fact, however, little attention is being paid to this increase and how to control it. In fact, most anti-DUI research is focused on stopping men from drinking and driving. The California DMV reports that in 2011 23.5% of all DUI arrests were female and the median age for a female suspect was 33 years old.
Recently, a Canadian nonprofit group - the Traffic Injury Research Foundation interviewed a number of women who have been arrested for DUI in order to find out more about this trend. The interviews found the following trends:
- Stress: most of the subjects said they had recently dealt with a stressful event like a death or a break-up
- Prescription Drugs: Over ¾ of the subjects said that they used some sort of prescription drug for anxiety, depression or other disorder
- Relationship Status: More than half of the subjects were single, separated or divorced.
Perhaps even more interestingly, the survey found that all of the subjects fell into one of three categories:
- Young women drinking at bars or house parties apparently to ease social anxiety
- Women who have recently married and drink to deal with the loneliness of staying home with children
- Divorced women or empty-nesters who drink later in life
Though this explains why women drink, it does not explain why more women are being arrested for DUI. There are many reasons that explain this trend though. For example more women are driving these days than in the past and women are more independent. There is no stigma to a single women stopping at a bar by herself. Another factor may be prescription drug abuse or a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. More prescription drugs are available now than ever before.