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Is it easier for a woman to get a DUI than a man?

There can be differences between how alcohol affects most men and women. This can mean a woman is affected more by the same amount of alcohol compared to a man. Statistically, more men are arrested for drunk driving than women in California. However, anyone arrested for a DUI in the East Bay should talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer about their case to understand their rights and how to fight criminal charges.

DUI Statistics for Men and Women

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Men are also more likely to engage in risky behavior when drinking, including driving while impaired, fast driving, or driving without a seatbelt. Together, this increases the safety risks of drunk driving for men compared to women.

  • Men are 2x more likely to binge drink than women.
  • In fatal motor-vehicle accidents, men are 2x as likely as women to have been driving impaired.
  • More than half of adult men report drinking alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths than women.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also reports higher rates of alcohol-impaired driving among men compared to women. In a 2016 survey of almost 52,000 drivers involved in fatal car accidents, almost 3/4ths of the accidents involved men. Of those fatal accidents, 21% of fatal crashes involving men involved alcohol over 0.08% BAC compared to 14% of women who were driving impaired.

How Many Drinks Can Men and Women Consume?

BAC Chart for Female DriversBAC Chart for Male Drivers

In general, men and women feel the effects of alcohol differently, at different levels, and over different periods of time. This is partly due to women generally weighing less than men and having different body-fat levels. However, counting drinks can be a poor indicator of how impaired a driver may be, especially when so many other factors are involved.

According to a 2009 study, “women displayed greater impairment than men on all behavioral tests and also reported higher levels of subjective intoxication compared with men.” Differences in metabolism and brain chemistry can cause different reactions in men and women, with most women reaching a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and feeling more impaired after drinking the same amount of alcohol.

Counting Drinks May Be Unreliable

Unrelated to sex or gender, counting the number of drinks is based on set quantities of drinks and percentage of alcohol. However, as many people are aware, not all drinks are served equally. The above charts are based on the following “averages”:

  • 5 oz glass of wine (12%)
  • 12 oz of beer (5%)
  • 1.25 oz of liquor (40%)

When many young people go out to have a drink, the alcohol served may be higher in alcohol content or greater in serving size. For example, a 16-ounce glass of an IPA with an ABV of 7.5% is twice the alcohol of a 12-ounce bottle of 5% beer.

A stiff mixed drink may have more than two “servings” of alcohol. Similarly, sharing a bottle of wine between friends can make it difficult to keep track of exactly how many 5-ounce servings each person has had.

Young Men and Risky Behavior (Including Drunk Driving)

Men, especially younger men, have a higher rate of engaging in so-called “risky behavior” compared to women. This includes driving too fast, making risky passes in traffic, or racing yellow lights. When alcohol is involved, this risky behavior can increase the rates of traffic accidents for male drivers.

Can women's clothing affect how they perform field sobriety tests?

Clothing and shoes can affect how a person performs in a field sobriety test. Many drivers do not think about how their clothing can put them at greater risk of getting arrested for a DUI. However, because standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) can be so unreliable, any factor that increases the chances of “failing” the test can increase the likelihood of being arrested for drunk driving.

The walk-and-turn test and the one-leg-stand test can be complicated by certain types of clothing. For example, high heels can make it more difficult to balance on one leg compared to flat soled shoes. These shoes can also make it more difficult to walk along a straight light, heel to toe, in the walk-and-turn test. The police officer may suggest a driver can take off his or her shoes, however, walking barefoot on a loose gravel highway may not make the task any easier.

Drivers should understand that field sobriety tests in California are not mandatory. Drivers have the right to refuse SFSTs for any reason, regardless of their clothing or shoe choice. The police may make it seem like drivers should perform the test or they will be arrested. However, in most cases, the police have already decided whether to arrest the driver and will only be using the field sobriety test results as additional evidence.

East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney

Men are more likely to drive while impaired and be impaired when involved in a fatal accident. However, women are generally impaired more easily than men based on consuming the same amount of alcohol. This makes men and women both potential targets of police officers looking to make California DUI arrests. 

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in California, contact your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of drunk driving defense experience defending her clients facing DUI charges in Alameda or Contra Costa CountyContact East Bay DUI Defense Attorney Lynn Gorelick today.

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