Following a string of high profile arrests for drunk driving in California by celebrities like Nicole Ritchie, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton, a senior researcher with the Automobile Club of Southern California wanted to know if a trend was developing. Steven Bloch found that the number of young females in serious accidents involving alcohol or drugs was up dramatically since in the past decade.
In San Diego County, 18-24 year old females driving under the influence who caused fatal or injury related crashes rose 124%, from 49 to 110 accidents. Of those between 18 and 20 years of age, the figure doubled to 100.
Bloch used the figures from the California Highway Patrol for arrests for driving under the influence in California over the past ten years. While men still are involved with the majority of alcohol related crashes by a two to one ratio over females, their involvement in such crashes is not increasing. In contrast, deadly impaired driving accidents attributable to women had risen significantly. Factors that could attribute for the rise include an increase in the number of female drivers, women driving more miles and women driving more aggressively.
Bloch says there is another contributing factor; the marketing of alcoholic beverages to females. The alcohol industry has turned to sweeter, fruit flavored drinks and packaging to appeal to the female market.
In response, health officials recommend stronger education initiatives about the dangers of alcohol. They also want to emphasize that it is possible to be arrested for California DUI without being stumbling drunk or even in excess of the .08% threshold for legal intoxication. Police can initiate an DUI arrest simply based on perceived impairment.
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