Number of women with drink driving conviction doubles in 14 years

This article about women and drink driving convictions was in the Daily Mail recently and thought I would share it here.

Women accounted for fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) of drink-drive convictions in 1998, but this figure had risen to around one in six (17 per cent) by 2012, the survey revealed.  And last year some 803 women failed a breathalyser test after an accident.  Women aged 40 to 44 have a disproportionately high incidence of being over the breath-test limit, it says.

The report says bad drinking habits learned by ‘ladettes’ in their youth have followed them into their thirties and forties today.  Female ‘emancipation’ has also played a part in the rise as more single, independent, working women prefer to drive home after a drink than risk late night public transport or a taxi.

The report was published by car insurance company Direct Line, transport organisation the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, and Social Research Associates.  It also showed that one in six (17 per cent) of female motorists thought they had driven while over the legal alcohol limit in the past year.  As many as six out of ten (60 per cent) of the women polled said they did not know the legal limit.  And in almost all cases, respondents felt they were personally able to drink more alcohol than the ‘average woman’ before they were over the legal limit.  And the report notes: ‘Taking account of mileage driven, women are proportionately more likely to be over the legal limit as drivers than men from the age of 30.’

Among the women who admitted to drink-driving, the most common reason for doing so was because they felt physically ‘okay’ to drive, as cited by six out of ten (59 per cent).  Almost a third (31 per cent) thought it would be fine to drink ‘if they just drove carefully’.  And one in six (17 per cent) felt they had no alternative other than to drink and drive, often due to ‘family emergencies’.  An alarming one in seven (14 per cent) said they drove while over the limit because they thought there was little risk of being caught.

A quarter of women either drink ‘most days or every day with wine the most favoured tipple cited by three quarters of those surveyed. Most drink in their own home or a friend’s.

I find it really interesting that women aged 40 to 44 have a disproportionately high incidence of being over the breath-test limit.  I didn’t drink driven at night although I am sure there were days when if I’d been stopped the next morning I would have failed a breath test.  Are these women over the limit because they have a higher tolerance to boooze as they have been drinking for a larger part of their adult life and therefore underestimate the amount they are drinking because they don’t feel drunk therefore putting them over?

Edited to add: 2 days later and an article headline agrees completely with my hypothesis:  ‘I didn’t feel drunk, not even tipsy: the rise of female drink-drivers featuring Rachel from Sober is the new black and Lucy from Soberistas

11 thoughts on “Number of women with drink driving conviction doubles in 14 years

  1. At that age (my age!) I think of women shuttling kids around while trying to maintain a social life, a career, maybe even personal interests with all that spare time. Alcohol left no room for error, but invited so much for me personally. The woman who drinks and drives at 40 has probably been doing it for some time, underestimating how much she’s had to drink and in denial about how it’s crept up over the years. Thanks for the interesting share.

    1. My age too Kristen – well it would have been when I was still unwittingly driving over the limit the next morning anyway 😉 Based on personal experience I agree. I would have thought I was okay because I hadn’t been that drunk the night before but forgetting that now it was taking over a bottle and a half of wine to get me drunk!! I knew that it took 1 hour to process and excrete 1 unit of alcohol but the need to go to work would have overridden that knowledge 🙁

  2. Hey I really had a good read of this and it really made me think. It also made me think about my own and friends behaviour. We have been undoubtedly over the limit the next day. What’s the thing they teach the kids now – 12 hours from bottle to throttle. ?

    There was a switch wasn’t there, certainly here in scotland with radio ads of ladies (I’m using the term loosely for myself) socialising in the evening with little Tarquin playing the cello for his mums pals clinkty-clink of the wine he gets tucked back up and the next morning she’s ferrying him to school checking he’s got his homework etc. It was a late night, gone midnight, she’s in the car at 8am.

    Unfortunately whilst I don’t think if we really thought it through, we’d really have done it. Have I done it yes. Scary.

    (OK so my brain is telling me I’d have just drunk earlier, lol to make sure I was OK)

    1. I love that saying Daisy – 12 hours from bottle to throttle! Brilliant 🙂 I don’t think any of us did it consciously and deliberately but that’s the danger isn’t it? We are so mis-informed about alcohol that it happens unknowingly. I think Scotland is way ahead of England here because you have recognised earlier than us that our country has a major problem with booze. South of the Border we are still in denial …..

  3. I also think that people do not know that 1 glas often is not equal to 1 unit. Specifically wine glasses are very, very big, and cocktails are often 1,2 or 2 units while people think ‘I only had one glass’.

    A while ago a supermarket had an action with pasta measurement mugs, so you would not overeat. You would get one for free with a package of pasta. I am thinking of setting something like this up for alcohol. Where you have a (plastic?) glass with measurement stripes that say ‘5% / 7,5% / 10% etc from the top counting down on one side and the percentage would be placed at the exact hight of the amount that is 1 unit. So if I would pour a 5% beer in it there would be a stripe at 250ml saying 250ml – 5% alcohol.

    And on the other side the ‘margarita / mojito / rum and coke and what have you in cocktail mixes so that when you pour your drink in the glass you know what 1 unit is. And see that half of your original glass is still full so that you have to take care. Maybe there should be a text on it too that says what the limit is for driving.

    Are you liking it? It needs to be set up together with a supermarket or with a chain. Maybe add an ear to it so it can be used for tea ;-).

    1. Sounds like a plan feeling 🙂 Let me know how the testing goes in Holland? 😉

  4. Perhaps we women think we’re so successful at multi-tasking we can add drinking and driving to the mix? Since most of my drinking was done at home, alone, my offense was driving the next morning, knowing I would have failed a breath test, sometimes turning my vehicle around and going back home because it felt too risky. Interesting article. xx

    1. At least Lori you turned your car round when you knew it was risky! If I was heading to work I’d have have just driven on and sucked more mints :/ Is drink drive testing the morning after more widely used in the States?

      1. No, not to my knowledge. The testing would probably occur only after an accident. I used to assume, when I saw someone driving erratically on my way to work, it was because they were texting, but it could very well be because they were still drunk from the night before… :/

  5. can I ignore all the sobriety stuff in your post and just have a rant about how angry the Mail makes me?! ffs. it’s all the fault of those pesky independent single women. them and their ’emancipation’. huff.

    to be fair, the word ’emancipation’ appears in the original report, which justifies their inverted commas, I suppose. but they are taking advantage of it to sneer, the Mail’s default tone…

    one thing I didn’t know is that in this country we already have the highest drink/drive level in Europe: quelle surprise:

    our maximum BAC level is 0.08 (% by vol), when at BAC levels of 0.06-0.09% there are impairments in ‘reasoning, depth perception, peripheral vision and glare recovery’. it is also 0.08% in the US (lower for those under 21 in many states), Canada and New Zealand. 0.05% in Australia….

    1. Me too Prim – I call it the Daily Wail. We are so way off base compared to other countries on so many things around booze, not just a higher BAC level ….

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