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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

The police have a new tool: Digital vehicle forensics

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2021 | criminal defense

The police are using technology in ever-increasingly creative ways throughout their investigations. Now, an emerging science known as “digital vehicle forensics” is giving the authorities new ways to win convictions.

What is digital vehicle forensics?

Digital vehicle forensics is the art of mining all of the data that gets collected by the computers in every modern vehicle.

Up until recently, the amount of information that could be gleaned from a modern vehicle’s electronics was largely overlooked.

That’s changed. Now, everything from a car’s navigational device, hands-free systems and other “smart” features can all be scoured for evidence that can disprove alibis or hand police the evidence they need to convict someone of a crime.

What can the police learn from a car?

The examples abound. In one case, the police were able to use the recording of a suspect’s voice as he operated the hands-free radio system in the victim’s car — a fact that destroyed the suspect’s alibi.

Electronics in modern cars can tell the police:

  • Where the car was driven
  • When it was driven
  • What stops were made (and for how long)
  • How fast the car went at any given point (and whether it slowed down or went faster during a critical event)
  • When the doors were opened and closed (and which ones)
  • How much the car weighed (which can reveal how many people were in it)
  • What cellphones connected with the car’s system via Bluetooth or cables
  • What calls or texts were made from the car

In short, if you feel like a vehicle is comparable to a “computer on wheels” these days, that’s not far from the truth. Like a computer, any vehicle has the potential to give the police all the information they need to convict someone.

If you’re facing serious charges, what should you do?

If you’ve been arrested on a serious offense, don’t try to handle your defense on your own. It takes experience, knowledge and skill to get a successful outcome in criminal court.