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Women's Drink-Driving Convictions Double since 1998

Whiskey, car keys and handcuffsA survey funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund has found that drink-driving convictions among women almost doubled between 1998 (when women accounted for 9% of convictions) and 2013 (by which time the figure had risen to 17%).

The findings revealed that although overall rates of alcohol consumption are falling, drinking amongst more affluent women is on the rise.

The survey also suggests that many of the participants are unclear about what constitutes a unit of alcohol or what the actual drink-drive limits are. When questioned, many women exhibited a poor understanding of the subject, which may lead them to unintentionally drive while over the limit.

Impaired judgement 

The survey revealed that the most common reason that women gave for driving over the limit was that they felt it was “Ok”. This wasn’t through a belief that they wouldn’t get caught, simply that by being careful, they thought they could drive without incident.

Unsurprisingly, most women agreed that a driving ban would seriously affect their lives. Yet it’s clear from the rising number of drink-drive convictions that the influence of alcohol reduces the ability of many women to make rational decisions.

The survey suggests that the recommended maximum alcohol limits may currently be too high. Men and women metabolise alcohol differently, and this may contribute to women’s inaccurate assumption that they are under the drink-drive limit.

Social & cultural changes influence drinking habits

Social and cultural changes have produced a more relaxed attitude towards alcohol in the past 15 years, the survey reflects.  Alcohol is more widely available and is promoted via a range of outlets. Consumption has risen accordingly, leading to more convictions.

Drink-drive campaigns typically show male drivers being stopped and breathalysed. The survey asks whether these campaigns should feature more women in an attempt to show that their lives can be just as easily affected by a drink-drive conviction.

The full survey can be read here.

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