We may not have the quickest of vehicles, blue flashing lights, or training in fast paced vehicle manoeuvres, but CSI’s will help chase those who decide to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. Sometimes linking a stolen motor vehicle to a suspect can be challenging, but what happens when the suspect is the owner of the vehicle? How might we link such a person to committing a crime like drink driving in their own vehicle? This blog is a demonstration of how I identified the driver of a vehicle after it had crashed and been abandoned.
CSI’s should always keep an open mind. If a vehicle has been reported stolen after the accident it could be a genuine claim. The car may have been stolen without the owners knowledge, and the crash could come before the owners first phone call to us. It has also been known for drink drivers to report their vehicle stolen after they’ve suffered an RTC (Road Traffic Collision). The cheesy phrase ‘follow the evidence’ may make me snigger when watching TV programmes, but it has some truth. CSI’s should document and record the evidence in front of them without any bias.
The vehicle I was tasked to examine had hit a few other cars until it finally collided with a brick wall. The driver was seen to flee by witnesses. My first task was to photograph and document my findings. One thing I will always do is comment on the appearance of the car, and play close attention to any forced entry (or lack of). In this case no forced entry or evidence of hotwiring were found.
The windscreen had significant cracks across it and during my visual examination I noticed hair caught in the cracks of glass, likely as a result of someone striking their head against it (also a great advert for seatbelts).
Due to the location and amount of hairs, this would hopefully prove to be strong evidence for the investigation. I collected and packaged these hairs in order for a DNA submission.
My visual examination continued and I located a stain on the drivers seatbelt which I tested for blood. The result showed a positive indication for blood and the stain was swabbed. The stain is located directly below the arrow, the number 4 relates to my sequence of exhibit numbers.
After my examination I returned to the office with a choice. One exhibit was to be sent off for DNA comparison between the hairs and the blood. This would save the force some money by only sending one item, with the potential for a second submission in the future. I submitted the hairs as this would be harder to challenge in interview and court. The blood could be challenged if it proved to be the owner of the vehicle’s. Without the ability to age blood the owner could say this is historic, and they cut themselves previously. The hair would be harder to challenge either by the owner of the car or a thief.
The results from the hair analysis identified a male with access to the vehicle, so we weren’t looking at a SMV (Stolen Motor Vehicle) crime. Instead the hairs helped prove the man was responsible for crashing the car.
More sensitive forensic work can be done, especially if an air bag has deployed. Air bags shouldn’t be handled by anyone other than the person striking it in a collision. In this case, no air bag deployed.
I hope this has opened your eyes before you get behind the wheel feeling rather tipsy. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt in this case, others haven’t been so lucky. Please challenge anyone you suspect of drink driving, you could save their life.