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Breath Tests Unfair for Women

Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer William Ryan William Moore Criminal Defense knows that DUI issues for women have changed substantially over time. Years ago, women accounted for a very small percentage of total DUI arrests. In fact, fewer than ten percent of all DUI arrests were women drivers thirty years ago, although women account for about half of all drivers. Now, women account for between fifteen and twenty percent of DUI arrests, a sobering increase. A Broward County DUI attorney might ask himself: why are the rates for women rising so drastically?

The reason why women comprise more and more Fort Lauderdale DUI arrests is complicated. Any Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer can tell you that, anecdotally, he sees more female clients than in the past. Changing social attitudes may result in more women going out in the evenings and consuming alcohol. The changes in attitudes are also reflected in police behavior: police may have taken a more protectionist stance decades ago and perhaps given an intoxicated female driver a ride home rather than to the jail cell. Now, Broward County police treat DUI offenders similarly regardless of their sex.

Another reason why the rates of women arrested for DUI in Broward County are increasing is testing conditions. Our Broward County DUI lawyer knows that the breathalyzers used in the state of Florida are calibrated for a man’s lungs and body composition. Because women generally have lower lung capacity, they blow higher blood alcohol content readings as measured by these devices. The Intoxilyzer breathalyzers are calibrated for the amount of air the average man could blow into the machine, so it does not account for the fact that the alcohol level a woman blows is likely to be somewhat less diluted by air than a man’s is. That means that a man and a woman who technically have the same blood alcohol content may blow different readings – and the woman’s will often be higher.

A Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer might also tell you that the changes in the law in the 1990s have led to more DUIs for female drivers. The Mothers Against Drunk Driving nationwide campaign led every state to establish the blood alcohol level at which impairment is presumed at 0.08 percent, down from 0.10 percent in most states. The change in the law, coupled with higher police prioritization of DUIs, appears to have led to more arrests of women. One theory is that men may drink more heavily and be more likely to be arrested when pulled over, whereas women tended to drink somewhat less heavily and would not have been arrested with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or 0.09. Of course, any Broward County DUI attorney knows that a driver can be arrested for DUI if she appears impaired, regardless of her blood alcohol content.

Women also process alcohol differently than men, typically at a slower rate. That can lead to a higher blood alcohol level – and possibly to a Fort Lauderdale DUI arrest — for a woman who drinks the same amount as a man who is the same weight. Women produce less of the hormone required to break down alcohol in the body. Additionally, the alcohol is processed differently in women because they are composed of a higher percentage of body fat and less water as compared to men. These differences could lead to a woman in a social setting overestimating her level of sobriety.

A good Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney is familiar with these issues and more. If you have been charged with DUI in Florida, contact William Moore Criminal Defense, P.A., which has experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyers with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

This article should be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Article contributed by Mallory Shipman, Attorney-at-Law.

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