Why women may have more of an uphill climb with DUI/DWI charges

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that law enforcement arrests about 1.5 million people yearly for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To put the number in more perspective, it translates to one out of every 121 drivers with licenses.

No matter their gender, drivers can argue their alcohol or drug charges based on inaccurate chemical tests, insufficient reason for stopping and other issues. However, women often face more of an uphill climb than men do.

The stigma

A father and community pillar arrested on DUI/DWI charges is likely to face some judgment to an extent. A similar woman, however, could face even more harsh judgment. Sometimes, this judgment is subconscious. A prosecutor, for example, may recommend a stricter sentence without realizing why he or she is doing so. Similarly, a judge may feel less inclined to listen to defense arguments because he or she thinks the woman had no business leaving her children for hours with a sitter in the first place. Courts might give man applying for a job who has a DUI/DWI conviction more room for leniency than a woman gets.

Society in general sees it as okay, encouraged, even, for a man to go off, drink and socialize. However, it has a long way to go in treating women equally.

The influence of alcohol

There is also the fact that some women do not realize they might be too intoxicated to drive when they get behind the wheel. Suppose Woman A has just left dinner with a male work colleague. They had a similar number of drinks, and in fact, she had one fewer drink. However, due to differences in how male and female bodies process alcohol, the woman could be more intoxicated than the man who appeared perfectly sober. It is frustrating for many women who think they are sober enough to drive legally to find out they might not be.


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