Background: Women are increasingly involved in drunk driving and fatal crashes, yet except for the screening performed in criminal justice settings, little is known about their life context, psychiatric histories, and family backgrounds. This study describes a sample of women with histories of arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) who were interviewed outside a criminal justice setting and contrasts women with single versus multiple DUI convictions. Methods: Women with recent documented histories of DUI participated in a study of women's health behaviors. Thirty-six women with 1 DUI and 62 with 2 or more DUIs participated in a diagnostic telephone interview which assessed demographics, alcohol use and problems, psychiatric problems, treatment, and partner violence. Results: The sample overall had high rates of co-occurring psychiatric problems, parental alcohol problems, early sexual and physical abuse, and head injuries. Alcohol use severity and the prevalence of head injuries and partner alcohol problems were significantly higher among women with multiple DUIs than women with a single DUI. Measures reflecting life context, such as marital status, number of children, and childhood trauma, were not associated with number of DUIs. Conclusions: Findings suggest that DUI recidivism in women is accounted for primarily by AUD severity and is not influenced by previous life events such as partner violence, psychiatric problems, and family context such as divorce/separation or number of children. Multiple DUIs in women may mark an alcohol severity threshold beyond which few factors account for additional risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-653
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Drunk Driving
  • Women


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