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Arrests of Women for Driving Under the Influence

Elsie R. Shore, Marcia L. McCoy, Lynn A. Toonen, E. J. Kuntz

Police records of arrests of women in Wichita, Kansas for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol for a 5-year period (1980-1984) were studied. The proportion of arrests of women increased from 10.6 to 14.5% of total arrested. Women in their 20s comprised the largest age group; single women were greatly overrepresented. More than one-half of the arrested women were employed outside the home; a substantial proportion (30.8%) were unemployed at the time of arrest. The average blood alcohol level of those tested was 183 mg\/dl. Characteristics of arrestees are discussed in terms of changes in the social roles and expectations of women. Although time of arrest was similar to that of men (i.e., night), arrests of women were more evenly spread across the days of the week. Within the 5-year period, the rate of recidivism for DUI was 7.43%. The implications of arrest and recidivism patterns are discussed. A change in legal and arrest procedures was found to have the same effect on arrests of women as it had on those of men, suggesting that the changes did not produce differential treatment by police.