UK: The number of women arrested and convicted of drink driving is ‘the tip of the iceberg’, according to a senior police officer.

Superintendent Jane Derrick from Sussex police spoke of the growing problem of women drinking and driving. In Sussex, 21% of those convicted of drinking and driving were women, but the true figure of women is likely to be much higher, said Supt Derrick. One of the reasons for this is that woman are less likely to be stopped than men.

She said: “We’ve seen a huge increase, but it is the tip of the iceberg. We are stopping people based on our perceptions. If I see a woman driving a car I may view her differently to a male driver because of my professional knowledge, but also my own perceptions.”

Vicki Martin from the Police Federation said officers had to rethink their approach.

She said: “It’s not just about drink driving. When we think of criminals we think of men, but we need to think of perpetrators as men and women.”

Although there are proportionally less female drink drivers than male, the issue should still be taken seriously, said Ms Martin.

Ms Martin called for roads policing to be given greater priority. The panel also called for England to lower the drink drive limit to 50mg in 100ml of blood as well as introducing minimum unit prices for alcohol.

Latest figures from Social Research Associates show the percentage of women convicted of drink driving rose from nine per cent to 17% between 1998 and 2012. Drink driving is most prevalent amongst highly educated women with those in the late 30s to 50s age group at greatest risk.