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Keywords:

  • crime rates;
  • drunk driving/DUI;
  • female criminals;
  • legal arrest;
  • methodology;
  • social change;
  • sex differences;
  • social control;
  • trends

We evaluate two alternative explanations for the converging gender gap in arrest—changes in women's behavior versus changes in mechanisms of social control. Using the offense of drunk driving and three methodologically diverse data sets, we explore trends in the DUI gender gap. We probe for change across various age groups and across measures tapping DUI prevalence and chronicity. Augmented Dickey-Fuller time-series techniques are used to assess changes in the gender gap and levels of drunk driving from 1980 to 2004. Analyses show women of all ages making arrest gains on men—a converging gender gap. In contrast, self-report and traffic data indicate little or no systematic change in the DUI gender gap. Findings support the conclusion that mechanisms of social control have shifted to target female offending patterns disproportionately. Little support exists for the contention that increased strain and liberalized gender roles have altered the gender gap or female drunk-driving patterns.