U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

Eying Female Drunk Drivers, LaHood Starts Campaign

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off the national "Over the Limit. Under Arrest" anti-drunk driving campaign by releasing a new NHTSA study that backs up FBI data showing a surge in DUI arrests of women.

Responding to a sobering FBI report that DUI arrests of woman surged 28.8 percent from 1998 to 2007, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off a nationwide anti-drunk driving enforcement campaign on Wednesday by releasing a new NHTSA study suggesting more women are driving under the influence of alcohol. The NHTSA report is based on fatality crash reports showing the number of female drivers with BAC above 0.08 increased or remained flat in 15 states in 2008 from 2007, while the number of impaired males increased or was flat in 13 states.

"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," LaHood said.

During the same period when DUI arrests rose by 28.8 percent for women, arrests for men declined by 7.5 percent, according to the FBI. Combined, male and female DUI arrests totaled 803,030 in 1998 and 788,864 in 2008, a 2 percent decline, the FBI reported.

Eleven thousand law enforcement agencies nationwide are involved in the enforcement campaign. Named "Over the Limit. Under Arrest," it targets impaired drivers from Aug. 21 through the Labor Day weekend, which ends Sept. 7.

About 2,000 deaths per year involve an impaired female driver, according to NHTSA. The 10 states with increases in 2008 from 2007 in the number of impaired female drivers involved in fatal crashes are Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana, Washington, Kansas, and Tennessee. The five states where the number of alcohol-impaired female drivers remained unchanged in 2008 were Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah.

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