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Nationwide Crackdown on Drunk Drivers Targets Women

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A nationwide campaign to prevent drunk drivers from killing people over the Labor day Holiday is underway across the country. I searched the local Hawaii news and I see nothing about this national effort although, as you will see below, the mainland thinks Hawaii police are doing it also. Car 54 where are you? Is HPD in or out?

Jon Schmitz, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes about DUI and women in his story DUI crackdown aims at women Nationwide campaign to begin tomorrow addresses trend .

Watch for sobriety checkpoints, many police on the highways and streets throughout Hawaii and a major advertising campaign focusing on drunk drivers. Honolulu and oahu will be a busy at police stations as the end of summer partying goes into full swing on Admissions Day tomorrow.

Targeting women drivers is a twist that raises some questions in my mind. Does that mean they are looking in the car to see if it is a woman and then stopping the car? Or does it mean that if they stop a woman they give her a more detailed exam. I don’t understand how you "target" women. Random check points have to be "random" for legal reasons. random does mean all Catholics get pulled over. The law requires the police to have a reason to stop a motorist except at "random" checkpoints. The "random" part is important. They can stop a car that is weaving. They can stop a car that is going 20 mph in a 55 mph zone. But if a driver is driving properly they cannot stop her just because she is a woman …. or a Lutheran. And at a "random checkpoint they have already pulled everyone over. Do they test every woman and only randomly test the men? Do they give women tougher tests? That would be consistent with the history of gender discrimination but I thought we got past that a few decades ago.

Tell me what you think about the fact that the focus of this campaign will be on women.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcUBbbKj-7o

Women represent a growing percentage of drunken drivers, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.

"Impaired driving is an issue that cuts across all segments of society and, sadly, the number of arrests of women driving under the influence is on the rise. This is clearly a very disturbing trend," Mr. LaHood said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

Women driving drunk grew 30 percent between 1998 to 2007 according to FBI statistics. Men have 4 times as many arrests but the totals for men decreased 7.5 % over the same period.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked at the number of fatal crashes drunk women drivers went up in 10 states last year, including Ohio and West Virginia, despite an overall decline of 9 percent in drunken driver crashes. In Pennsylvania, the number of female drunken drivers in fatal crashes declined from 67 in 2007 to 54 last year.

"Women are driving more like men and, unfortunately, have picked up some of their dangerous habits," said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which is participating in the enforcement blitz.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving representative Laura Dean-Mooney has no ready explanation as to why there has been an increase in the number of women arrested for impaired driving.

"What you’re hearing more is that women are under more pressure, they’re now perhaps the breadwinner because of the unemployment rate," she said.

"We need to make sure women understand that if you’re a drinking driver, you’re just as likely as a male to hit or kill or injure someone or perhaps even kill yourself."

The campaign "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." runs through labor day.

Nationally 11,000 law enforcement agencies will participate and a $13 million national advertising campaign was initiated on Wednesday and state-funded ads will also be run, Ms. Harsha said.

"It involves every single state."

The statistics are sad. In 2008, 11,773 people died nationally in crashes involving a driver whose blood alcohol level was 0.08 or higher. That represents a 9.7 percent decrease compared with 2007.

Here is another article worth reading:

Holiday Crackdown On Drinkers, Especially Women - Posted by Chrissie Cole

August and September are among the worst times for drunken driving casualties, Ms. Harsha said.

The Governors Highway Safety Association yesterday also cited progress in the legislative war on drunken driving, saying three more states have enacted laws requiring first-time convicted DUI offenders to have alcohol ignition interlocks installed on their vehicles.

The devices measure blood alcohol content through a breath test before the car is allowed to start. Ten states now require them for all DUI offenders: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed. Jon Schmitz can be reached at jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. First published on August 20, 2009 at 12:00 am
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09232/992110-147.stm#ixzz0OkKEvLCP and http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09232/992110-147.stm#ixzz0OkKjsB2m