Bloodshot Eyes and DUI – Does it Mean Anything in a DUI Case?

Bloodshot Eyes and DUI – Does it Mean Anything in a DUI Case?

Bloodshot Eyes and DUI – Does it Mean Anything in a DUI Case?

Arrested for DUI? You may be wondering what sort of evidence will be used against you in court to prove your guilt in a DUI case. The arresting officer may have noted that you had bloodshot eyes which lead him to believe you had been drinking. Does having bloodshot eyes prove intoxication? Absolutely not! There are many factors that can cause one’s eyes to become bloodshot.


A recent estimate made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the number of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies is 36 million. Among the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are red, itchy eyes.


During sleep, the tear ducts rest and the corneas are kept moist by the eyelids. After a long day, the corneas start to become dry as the tear ducts produce less and less oxygen-rich tears. The lack of oxygen and dryness on the cornea irritate the tiny, normally unnoticeable blood vessels in the eye, causing them to become inflamed and noticeable.

Wearing Contacts

According to the Kellogg Eye Center located at the University of Michigan, approximately 25 million Americans wear contact lenses. Since contacts deprive the cornea of oxygen, wearing contacts for long periods of time can cause inflammation of the blood vessels in the cornea, or red eyes. Also, if contacts are not cleaned properly, or disposable contacts are worn longer than recommended, they can cause the same sort of irritation.

Computer Usage and Reading

Similar to fatigue, hours of uninterrupted computer usage or reading can lead to bloodshot eyes. This is because when staring at the computer or a book, one’s blinking rate decreases. Blinking less means the cornea receives less lubrication, causing them to become dry and leading to the irritation and inflammation of the small blood vessels in the eye.


Pink eye, as conjunctivitis is commonly called, is another cause of bloodshot eyes. The infection often affects both eyes due to its highly contagious nature. As its nickname implies, having pink eye causes the blood vessels in the eye to become inflamed, making the whites of the eyes heavily streaked with red lines.

Over use of Eye Drops

Many eye drops are designed simply to constrict the blood vessels in the eye, reducing their visibility. In other words, they get the red out. But for those who use eye drops excessively, the affect can be just the opposite. The blood vessels dilate making for bloodshot eyes.

It is for all these reasons and many others that having bloodshot eyes amounts to very little in court when used as proof of intoxication. In fact, many of the things police officers consider evidence of impaired driving are just as easily refutable by an experienced DUI lawyer. Things like slurred speech, flushed face and the odor of alcohol will be the topics of future blog posts in this series.

Bloodshot Eyes and DUI – Does it Mean Anything in a DUI Case?