Friday, August 14, 2009

More Drunk Women Getting Behind the Wheel

The horrific car accident in which a woman driving drunk killed eight last week in New York sheds light on a disturbing trend – the increased instances of women getting behind the wheel when legally drunk.

In Westchester County – where Diane Schuler’s fatal crash occurred – the number of women arrested for driving under the influence is up 2 percent in 2009. Across the U.S. a federal study found that the number of women who reported abusing alcohol nearly doubled, rising from 1.5 to 2.6 percent in the 10 year period from 1992-2002.

Men still drink more than women and are responsible for more drunken-driving cases, however their rates continue to decline while DUI’s among women are rising rapidly. In 2007 the number of women arrested for DUI was 28.8 percent higher than in 1998, while the number of men arrested declined by 7.5 percent.

In the 15 years I drank, I was never picked up for DUI. Did I drive drunk? Unfortunately, my answer is yes, worse there was more than one occasion where I did not remember how I got home. In Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace, Kay Scott tells her brother Paul he must stop drinking before he is responsible for something “you can never take back” and certainly driving drunk is at the top of the list.

Ms. Schuler’s family appears to be in denial that she had a drinking problem, a fact which only compounds the tragedy. But the increasing numbers of women driving drunk now has the attention of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The department’s annual crackdown which begins in late August will focus on getting drunk women driver’s off the road.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You Never Know

My sister Susan passed on Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace to a friend who is a therapist by training. She (I’ll call her Jane) loved the book but also commented on the dead-on accuracy of Pamela’s sociopath character in her pursuit of the Pierson family.

Jane also imparted a chilling observation – therapists don’t actually see the Pamela’s of this world as they don’t ever believe there anything about them that might be problematic. Who they do see as patients are the persons dealing with the constant fallout from a Pamela. Just as in the book, a Pamela is never at fault, is often a master manipulator, and will not stop until she wears down the opposition. Jane has the clients to prove it.

Like many authors, I wrote what I knew. Readers have come along for the journey for which I am grateful. Some of the details are not pretty, particularly the Pierson family’s battles with alcoholism and drug abuse – the toughest part of the novel for Jane to read. But to hear from a trained professional that the characters, their flaws, and their struggles came alive for her is a great compliment. Honestly you never know who will be reading your book or what new insights you’ll learn from a reader.