17th Apr 2015
There are certain available defenses for women accused of DUI that may be remarkably distinguishable from when males are accused. Some of the variables, as discussed below, show how women may have strong defenses or even be particularly vulnerable to a false arrest for DUI.
Women and Field Sobriety Exercises
Police officers may have the authority to request that a driver take a series of roadside agility exercises (often called “field sobriety tests” ) during a DUI investigation. Women may react slightly differently to such a request from their male counterpart because of concerns about their safety and the officer’s authority to make such a request.
Safety Concerns When a Male Officer Asks a Female Driver to Perform Roadside Agility Exercises
Almost all of the specially trained DUI officers in South Florida are male. In many cases, the male officer may be the only officer at the scene when that officer requests for the female driver to perform the field sobriety exercises. If the DUI investigation is conducted late at night, in a remote area, women may be understandably be apprehensive to exit their car and perform roadside agility exercises.
Women May React Differently to Stress from Men
Adding to the disadvantage that a woman may face during a DUI investigation is that women may react differently to stressful situations than a man. Women may be particularly vulnerable and be overcome with stress or anxiety. Women may be more likely to cry in such a stressful situation. A male officer may be more likely to mistake such reactions as an indication of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs thereby confusing innocent emotions with criminal activity.
Furthermore, if a woman refuses to exit her vehicle in a remote location at night, out of a reasonable fear, that officer may view that refusal as an indication of alcohol impairment, instead of recognizing the particular safety concerns that a woman might have in such a situation.
Perform Roadside Agility Exercises in High Heels
It is not uncommon for women in South Florida to be wearing high heels or other uncomfortable fashion footwear. Certainly, wearing such shoes can adversely impact the ability to perform filed sobriety tests. A South Florida police officer may offer the option of performing the tests by taking off the shoes and being in bare feet however, that also is a difficult and apprehensive situation, especially if performed in the dark. The common fashions of women may notably affect how a police officer conducts and analyzes their investigation.
Females and Alcohol Impairment
For issues of DUI, a critical difference between men and women is that women typically weigh less than men. A smaller amount of alcohol can affect women as opposed to men. Even one drink may arise a suspicion of impairment or a suspicious breath alcohol reading, especially if the woman is petite or consumes alcohol on an empty stomach.
Other differences may be more subtle such as women can absorb and metabolize alcohol differently from men.
Wrongful Gender Bias and the DUI Breath Test Machine
A special defense, known as the “gender bias” defense may exist when a woman is charged with DUI. Your attorney may be able to illustrate such a defense through argument and cross-examination or may need to assist and guide you in the retaining of an expert witness who can testify about the “gender bias” inherent in the Intoxilizer breath test machines used in South Florida.
These breath test machines, used to measure alcohol content, may tend to show a woman’s blood alcohol level higher than a man’s blood alcohol level even when such factors as size, weight, and alcohol consumption are controlled. Much of the difference can be explained that a woman’s body can be comprised of a higher fat content and lower muscle and water content than that of men. A combination of other factors may also cause an inflated breath alcohol reading that needs to be investigated by an experienced DUI lawyer.
Women Absorb Alcohol Differently Than Men
The Intoxilyzer breath testing machine, used by all the police departments in South Florida, was designed, tested, calibrated using the average man’s physiology in order to make many assumptions that control the result produced by the machine. These small differences can mean the difference between a reading that is over the legal limit or under the legal limit. Many studies conducted on the breath test machines show that wrongful gender bias applicable to the breath testing machine is particularly apparent when the test is given to young, thin or petite women.
Women Metabolize Alcohol Differently Than Men
Studies also show that it takes women longer to metabolize alcohol than men because of an enzyme called “ADH.” Women have less of the ADH enzyme in their bodies than men of the same size and weight. The lower level of the ADH enzyme results in a higher proportion of alcohol reaching the blood stream before being converted into acetate. The breath test is often given an hour after the woman was driving. These timing issues can result in a reading that shows a higher breath alcohol limit in women than men depending on when the test is given.
Fluctuations in Body Temperature Can Drastically Affect the Breath Test Reading
The breath test machine makes an assumption about body temperature based on a man’s average body and breath temperature. The breath test machine assumes that the temperature of the breath is 34 degree Celsius. That assumption is one factor that can cause an inflated reading for women whose breath temperature is even slightly higher than average.
Women have much larger fluctuations in hormones that affect body temperature. Especially during the premenstrual portion of a woman’s cycle, her body and breath temperature can be higher than average. Scientific studies show that even a fluctuation of one degree over the assumed breath test temperature of 34 degrees Celsius can cause a breath test reading that is 6.9% higher than it should be.
All of these very important issues need to be investigated and developed by an experienced and aggressive South Florida criminal defense attorney.