Professor Mary McMurran of the Institute of Mental Health at The University of Nottingham and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 26 world-wide studies and found emotional factors and mental health problems were common triggers in alcohol-related offenses committed by women.
They also said alcohol rehabilitation programs that force women to face the consequences of their crime can intensify their feelings of guilt and shame, leading them to turn to alcohol and increasing the risk that they will re-offend.
"The profile of women drink-driving offenders is of being divorced, widowed or separated and having fewer previous convictions than their male counterparts. Thus, it may be that these women are distressed by their situation and are turning to drink for solace," McMurran says in a statement.
"Treatment programs that induce negative emotions may actually increase emotional distress, which may increase drinking and, in turn, increase the likelihood of alcohol-related offending."
The study, published in Clinical Psychology Review, also said women were less likely to drink and drive than men and less likely to be repeat offenders; women drunk drivers were older than men, better educated but had a lower incomes; and women drunk drivers were more likely to have parents and partners who abused alcohol.