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When Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced an increased targeting of impaired drivers, he specifically noted the national increase in female drivers arrested under drunk driving charges.
In fact, statistics coming out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified a continued surge in drunken driving charges against women. The study cited a nearly 30 percent increase in female arrests between 1998 and 2007, contrasted with a 7.5 percent decrease in DUI charges among male drivers.
While women saw a massive percentage increase compared to previous years, they still fall far short of male drivers in terms of the numbers of drunk driving convictions as a whole. Nevertheless, the dramatic increase is frightening.
Ohio is one of 10 states where the number of female OVIs increased. In fact, Ohio led all other states with an increase of 17 percent. Of additional concern is the fact that female drivers are three times more likely than male drivers to have children under 14 in the car.
Many have offered thoughts on why OVI arrests have increased among women; a prevalent opinion seems to be that, as OVI laws have stiffened, police officers are less likely to let drivers off with a warning.
In late 2008, Senate Bill 17 was adopted in Ohio, bringing much stricter guidelines to the state's OVI laws. Under this bill, Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) devices are required for all second-time offenders, and, at the courts' discretion, may be required for first-time OVI convictions. The SCRAM device is an ankle bracelet that measures blood-alcohol content (BAC) through perspiration. The device monitors your BAC once an hour and, if you violate your sentencing or probation, officers will be dispatched to retrieve you.
Fines and driving suspensions were also increased and officers were given more authority to conduct blood tests.