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On eve of DUI crackdown, US reports 30% rise in arrests of women drivers

Associated Press / August 20, 2009

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WASHINGTON - The number of women arrested for drunken driving has jumped nearly 30 percent in the past decade.

The Transportation Department said the number of women arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased 28.8 percent between 1998 and 2007. The number of men arrested under the influence fell 7.5 percent in the same time.

“If you’re over the limit, you’re under arrest. This is a matter of life and death,’’ Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.

Despite the new trend, drunken driving arrests remain dominated by men. In 1998, 676,911 men were arrested for driving under the influence, compared with 626,371 arrests in 2007. More than 126,000 women were arrested on DUI charges in 1998, a number that rose to 162,493 in 2007.

Laura Dean-Mooney, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said it is unclear why the number of women arrested for impaired driving has increased. “There’s no hard data on that. What you’re hearing more is that women are under more pressure, they’re now perhaps the breadwinner because of the unemployment rate,’’ she said.

The government released the new statistics in connection with an enforcement campaign to target drunk drivers leading up to Labor Day weekend. The enforcement campaign begins tomorrow and involves 11,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.