Do Bloodshot Eyes Mean Anything in a DUI Case?
If you have been arrested for DUI there is nearly a 100% chance that the report says that you had “read, bloodshot eyes.” The police are trained to include that language in their DUI reports, and you better believe they do it. The argument that the government makes is that your eyes are bloodshot because you are drunk. What’s interesting though is that I have had read that line in police reports where my client blew 0.000, passed their sobriety exercises, and simply were not drinking alcohol.
So how does a DUI lawyer handle the allegation of red, bloodshot eyes? The first thing to do is establish that the police officer has never met you before and, frankly knows almost nothing about you. Once it is clear to the jury that the cop doesn’t know you then all it means is he’s guessing, or assuming, that your eyes are blood shot because of alcohol – it is not something that he “knows.”
Allergies are probably one of the most common reasons why someone will have red, watery, or bloodshot eyes. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergies, a significant portion of the population. Many people also get red, bloodshot eyes when they are tired or sleep deprived. The eye is constantly covered in a tear film which helps protect the eye and provide it with oxygen. While we sleep our eyes are closed, which creates a water tight seal that gives the eyes time to recuperate. When we do not get enough sleep the eyes are not given the time to recuperate, causing inflammation of the surface of the eye and small blood vessels dilate, giving the look of red, bloodshot eyes. A third possible cause is wearing contact lenses too long. According to the Center for Disease Control more than 30 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. Contacts limit the amount of oxygen that your get. Therefore, after an extended period of time from wearing contacts the surface of your eye will get inflamed due to lack of oxygen, causing the blood vessels to dilate and turn red.
A qualified DUI attorney can easily handle this “indicator of impairment” at trial by questioning the officer and these, and other reasons, that somebody can have blood shot eyes.