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What is behind the increase in women arrested for DUI?

When the subject of drinking and driving comes to mind, you probably associate this activity with men. In this area of the state, for example, you might make a connection between male students at Michigan State and DUI arrests.

However, statistics gathered by the FBI indicate that law enforcement is arresting a growing number of women for driving drunk. Why is this happening?

The nationwide numbers

The FBI data showed that from 2003 to 2012 nationwide, there was a 21 percent increase in DUI arrests among women. In 2014, a research scientist from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Canada followed up by conducting a study of women arrested for drunk driving in Michigan, California, Missouri and New York. Researcher Erin Holmes then presented the results at a Michigan Traffic Safety Summit held in Lansing.

Working women

Holmes found that more women are in the workforce today and driving greater distances than in years past. Stress caused by work leads to the need for relaxation. A woman may stop for a drink with friends at the end of the day, then drive home after dark when law enforcement is more likely to stop motorists suspected of drunk driving.


Relationship issues, such as a breakup or a divorce, can also cause considerable stress, which, in turn, can lead to drinking. Many people mistakenly think they are fine to drive after having a drink or two. However, women become intoxicated more quickly than men simply because they metabolize alcohol differently.  

Michigan State statistics

Numbers compiled by the Alcohol Enforcement Unit in the Michigan State Police Department show that the numbers of drunk driving arrests decreased between 2000 and 2012, going from about 62,000 drivers to roughly 37,000. However, the percentage of women arrested for drunk driving increased during that period.

Reaching out

In the state of Michigan, the penalties for a DUI conviction are harsh. The effects of alcohol consumption may be different for women than for men, but every drunk driver faces the same penalties regardless. A woman charged with drunk driving can reach out for experienced legal representation so that her case can be brought to the best conclusion possible. 

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