Women part of dangerous trend

By Sara Story - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two years ago, Melinda Jackson, a repeat DWI offender, was put behind bars after hitting a boy with her car while intoxicated.

Today, women being arrested for drinking and driving is happening more and more. Rita Fryer with Mothers Against Alcohol and Drugs says it's just a sign of our times.

"Our world is different than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago," said Fryer. "More and more women are professional. They are not home as much. They are doing networking meetings, so they are just out more."

The Transportation Department says the number of women driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased 28.8% between 1998 and 2007. The number of men arrested fell 7.5%. Female DUI arrests in Tyler have remained steady over the past few years, but there was a drastic increase last year. Tyler police say it may just be a coincidence.

"It goes down to being at the right spot at the right time, or if there was an accident involved, or if citizens call and say, 'Hey, I'm behind a suspected drunk driver,'" said Don Martin, with Tyler PD. "They get us involved, and we are able to arrest them."

But MAAD and local bar owners say more women go out alone or in groups than they used to and they say the pop culture is partly to blame.

"When you see women going out and celebrating on TV, you are like, 'Well, I want to do the same thing,'" said Cedric Fletcher, owner of Fat Catz.

"It's no longer just a commercial or two on television," said Fryer. "It is on the internet 24/7, it's on Facebook, it's on Twitter, it's everywhere."

As Labor Day approaches, Fryer urges women to think before they drink.

"I would think that the biggest key is planning if you know you are going to go out, definitely designate a driver," said Fryer.

The Tyler Police Department will be participating in a "no refusal" campaign this weekend. That means, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer when you are pulled over, and the police think you are drinking and driving, they can get a warrant and take a sample of your blood. "No refusal" starts Thursday and lasts until Sunday.

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