Do Red and Glassy Eyes Mean You’re Drunk in New Hampshire?

Red and Glassy Eyes Means You’re Drunk Right? WRONG! 

Just like the phrase “odor of alcoholic beverage” is parroted in every DWI case, so is the officer’s observation of “red and glassy eyes”.   We challenge this observation by pointing out the obvious – a whole host of environmental factors play a role in causing “red and glassy” eyes. 

Those “red and glassy” eyes are a sign of impairment was even debunked in a 1997 U.S. Department of Transportation report:

“…Bloodshot eyes, while associated with alcohol consumption, also are a trait of many shift workers and people who must work more than one job, as well as those afflicted by allergies.” Jack Stuster, U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA Final Report, The Detection of DWI at BAC’s below .10 (1997)

Take the following cross-examination snippet into consideration:

Attorney: Isn’t it true officer that being tired can cause red eyes?
Officer: Yes
Attorney: You don’t know how long my client was awake prior to the stop, correct?
Officer: Yes, that’s correct.
Attorney: You would agree that allergies can cause the eyes to become red, correct?
Officer: Yes
Attorney: You have no idea if my client has any allergies, correct?
Officer: I do not.
Attorney: You certainly didn’t call my client’s doctor to follow up on this issue, did you?
Officer: I did not.
Attorney:  Cigarette smoke can cause eyes to become red, correct?
Officer: Yes
Attorney: Did you ask my client how many cigarettes he had during the course of the night?
Officer: No, I did not.

Alcohol is not the only cause for red bloodshot and watery eyes.  Here is a more comprehensive list:

o    Cigarette smoke
o    Eye strain
o    Contact lenses
o    Fatigue
o    Conjunctivitis
o    Diabetes-
o    Prescription medication
o    Cold and Flu
o    Dry air
o    Mumps
o    Infection
o    Emotion state

The cross-examination on the issue of “red and glassy” eyes could go on forever.  The observation of “red and glassy eyes” is hardly compelling evidence when considering the many alternative reasons for this condition. 

If you’re facing a DWI allegation in NH, Contact a qualified DWI attorney in your area.

Shepherd and Osborne – Criminal Lawyers For NH


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