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.

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