A federal job corps worker was recently fired from her position after she was convicted of a DUI offense stemming from an incident while on a personal visit to Kentucky. Her termination was based on the fact that she had lost her commercial driver's license for one year and for "improper conduct."
The woman's job termination was upheld by a federal appeals court, which ruled that the conviction diminished her trust level among her students and made her job more difficult to perform.
This case underscores the difficulties women may have with drunken driving convictions. Statistics indicate a 28.8 percent increase in the number of women arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs from 1998 to 2007.
Higher stress levels may be a reason for the increase in arrests as women gain more equality in the workplace and become the main providers for their families along with their more traditional roles. Women are patterning themselves after men with after-work cocktails and other business obligations that expose them to more social drinking and as a way to alleviate stress. Further, since many women are engaged in jobs or professions regarding the public trust such as teaching or childcare, a DUI conviction may bring uncertainty to their job status.
To compound matters, breath testing may be biased against women. For instance, females have a lower percentage of water in their system, so a breath test may show a higher concentration of alcohol in a woman than a man of equal proportions who drank the same amount of alcohol. Women also have larger fluctuations in body temperature than men, which can falsely elevate their blood alcohol reading. In addition, taking birth control pills can speed the absorption rate of alcohol in a woman and contribute to false high blood alcohol readings.
Retaining an attorney is essential to minimizing the consequences of a DUI conviction for a woman. An experienced legal professional can attack possible gender bias in breath testing and offer convincing mitigating or special circumstances before the court that may result in a lesser or non-alcohol related plea agreement or verdict.