Last month’s 24-year prison sentence for a suburban Chicago woman convicted in a drunk driving car crash highlights a growing concern: The increase in DUI arrests and fatal DUI auto accidents among women.
The 43-year-old woman was convicted of aggravated DUI after running a stop sign last fall and slamming into 27-year-old woman, according to ABC7.
The 27 year old woman was killed in the car accident, along with her 3-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter.
According to an analysis this month by the Associated Press, Women in the U.S. are drinking more, and drunken-driving arrests among women are rising rapidly while falling among men.
Still, men accounted for roughly three times more drunk driving deaths in Illinois than did women, according to 2008 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
But the study found DUI arrests among women have increased almost 30 percent between 1998 and 2007 while the number of men arrested declined by 7.5 percent.
“Women are picking up some of the dangerously bad habits of men,” said Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Of particular concern is the trend’s impact on children riding in cars with impaired drivers.
Nearly 250 youngsters were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. in 2007, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.
“Drunk drivers often carry their kids with them,” said MADD’s Hurley. “It’s the ultimate form of child abuse.”
The increase in arrests comes as women are drinking more than in the past.
One federal study found that the number of women who reported abusing alcohol (having at least four drinks in a day) rose from 1.5 percent to 2.6 percent over the 10-year period that ended in 2002. For women ages 30 to 44, the number more than doubled, from 1.5 percent to 3.3 percent.
Authorities believe the trend also indicates the tougher stance against drunk driving taken by law enforcement means women are also more likely to be arrested and held accountable than in the past.
The Transportation Department’s annual crackdown on drunken driving, which begins later this month, will focus on women.
“There’s the impression out there that drunk driving is strictly a male issue, and it is certainly not the case,” said Rae Tyson, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “There are a number of parts of the country where, in fact, the majority of impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes are female.”
If you have been injured by a DUI driver in the Chicago area, or if a loved one has been killed, contact Abels & Annes for a free consultation.