Drunk driving has predominantly been viewed as a male-based problem, with female drunk driving much less pronounced. However, their involvement in DWI has been a source of growing concern since the late 1980s. Thirty years ago just 9% of those arrested for DWI were women. Since then the number of women arrested for DWI has dramatically increased – up 29% from 1997 to 2007. These statistics emphasize the need to better understand the current situation and accurately prioritize female drunk drivers in the context of the overall drunk driving problem.
The purpose of this research was to provide a current state of knowledge about drunk driving among female drivers. The objectives of the research were to describe the magnitude of the female drunk driver problem, the characteristics of these offenders, the current involvement of female drivers testing positive for alcohol in fatal crashes, and effective strategies that are available and being applied to manage this segment of the drunk driving population.
What we have learned is more females are entering the criminal justice system as a result of the increase in DWI arrests. Self-reported drunk driving and alcohol crash data involving females has been stable for many years with only incremental changes. While female and male drunk drivers share some similar characteristics, they are different on some key attributes especially with regard to dependence, co-occurring substance use, and mental health disorders.
To learn more about female drunk driving offenders, their characteristics and involvement in fatal crashes, and how these offenders are managed in the criminal justice system in terms of sanctions and treatment, please view the executive summary and final report.