Historically, more men face DUI charges than women. However, the number of female offenders has increased in recent decades.
Many researchers attribute the changing statistics to shifts in societal norms and attitudes around women drinking in bars. Still, others point out the unique physiological differences that place women at a disadvantage during police encounters.
Effects of alcohol on female bodies
Numerous studies show that women metabolize alcohol differently than men. Due to a disproportionate number of enzymes in the stomach, a woman will not break down as much alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream, leading to higher intoxication levels. Therefore, a woman who drives after consuming only one drink is at a higher risk for DUI than a man who does the same.
Gender bias in the breath test
Police in Pennsylvania use the breath test to determine approximate blood alcohol levels during traffic stops where there is a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. However, manufacturers calibrate the typical breath test device for testing the average male body type. When officers use it to measure a woman’s BAC, there is inherent instrument bias that can lead to incorrect results. If the woman is significantly smaller or shorter than average, the discrepancy is even more distinct.
Regardless of the potential reasons for gender disparity in traffic stops, DUI charges are serious and often result in life-long consequences after conviction. Therefore, it is essential to know your rights and responsibilities when a law enforcement officer pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving.