Statistics indicate that Driving Under the Influence Arrests for Women are on the rise. As recently as 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 1,650 fatalities occurred as a result of female drivers who were determined to be under the influence of alcohol. NHTSA specifically noted that of women involved in fatal DUI-related collisions, more than a third had one or more passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash, three percent of which were children passengers. The FBI’s recent Crime in the United States report likewise showed an increase in women arrested for DUI by nearly thirty percent between 1998 and 2007. It’s clear that while men are still arrested more than women, driving under the influence is becoming an increasing problem amongst women drinkers.
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Imagine a man and a woman who meet on a Friday night for a date at a popular restaurant. The woman eats a small filet mignon and a salad, while the man has a large steak with
potatoes. The couple orders a bottle of wine and they share the bottle equally. At the end of the night, they leave separately in their own cars to drive home. By stroke of bad luck, they are both stopped by police officers on the way home. They both are asked to exit their cars. A police officer shines a flashlight in each of their eyes then asks each to perform a series of Field Sobriety Tests at roadside. Although they had the exact same amount of alcohol, the man is given a warning and sent on his way. The woman, on the other hand, is arrested for Driving Under the Influence. How can this happen when they both consumed the same amount of alcohol?
The Woman’s Body
Alcohol effects women differently than men. The difference can be attributed to the amount of water in a woman’s body. Metabolism also plays a role, in that women have lower activity of the enzyme ADH in the stomach which is responsible for metabolizing alcohol. This causes more ingested alcohol to leave the stomach and reach the blood. Finally, some studies have shown that a woman’s alcohol metabolism is affected by the phase of the menstrual cycle and can also be affected by oral contraceptives.
The amount and type of food in the gastrointestinal system effects the absorption of alcohol. The higher the fat content, the more time it will take the stomach to empty the contents of the stomach into the intestine. Including fat, protein, and carbohydrates in a meal combined with alcohol can slow alcohol absorption by up to a third of the absorption rate on an empty stomach.
Bias in Field Sobriety Testing
The Field Sobriety Tests themselves may be biased against women, because the research that validated the tests did not include certain groups of people (for example, those that are overweight, or over 65 years of age). Additionally, in the police manuals themselves, police are warned that “individuals wearing heels more than 2 inches high should be given the opportunity to remove their shoes.” Despite these warnings, police officers frequently do not follow their own guidelines and blame poor performance on field sobriety tests on alcohol when other more reasonable, innocent explanations are the cause–such as age, athletic ability, weight, or even footwear–which may lead to a false arrest.
Massachusetts DWI Attorney
Because alcohol effects women differently than men, defenses may be available to women that are not available to men. The vast majority of criminal cases in Massachusetts require an aggressive Massachusetts criminal defense attorney on your side. Your choice of attorney can make all the difference in the world. If you or someone you know is facing an Arizona criminal charge, contact us today! We will fight hard to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome on your case
Patrick Donovan is a former assistant district attorney that prosecuted many women for dwi. Attorney Donovan has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan has tried both felony and misdemeanore dui, dwi, oui cases. Attorney Donovan offers free consultations.