Hit-and-run accidents will vary in nature and degree of seriousness. The investigation of the scene will be much the same as previously discussed. However, the obvious problem is to find the vehicle and driver that fled the scene. To assure early apprehension of the hit-and-run driver, coordination between law enforcement and other agencies is required.
The fact that a hit-and-run accident has occurred must be quickly but cautiously established. Military Police should carefully question the person, victim or witness who allege a hit-and-run and evaluate any physical evidence at the scene. Once verified, hit-and-run accidents require coordinated and immediate action.
MPs at the scene must promptly furnish the MP station with information concerning what support is and is not needed. Any descriptive information concerning the vehicle and/or driver should be obtained and furnished to all personnel involved in the search. If possible, this information includes:
Following receipt of descriptive information, the MP station should transmit all available information to all persons or agencies concerned. This may include civil police, other MP patrols, gate guards and service stations. The installation information office will release information to radio and TV stations.
USACIDC Special Agents (SAs) are required to perform hit-and-run investigations when:
There is a fatality.
Vehicle is suspected of purposely being used as a lethal weapon.
Charge for the offense can result in more than one year of confinement. (See Articles 108, 109, 111 and 119, UCMJ.)
If it appears that the accident will result in the lesser charge of "fleeing the scene of an accident" (Article 134, UCMJ), USACIDC will not be requested to investigate the accident.
Immediate search procedures must be implemented, based on likely routes of escape. This can be accomplished with roadblocks, checks of service stations, parking lots, gates, motor pools and clubs.
License and registration data should be obtained, if possible. If obtained, contact should be made with the owner to establish his status and the status of the vehicle.
A careful search of the scene to establish the point of impact should be made. All information gathered from the scene that may assist in identification of the vehicle involved should be disseminated as quickly as possible to all persons involved in the search. This information might include paint marks, vehicle parts, broken glass, soil, bloodstains, vehicle fluids, etc.
In addition to normal investigative procedures mentioned previously in this section, the following steps should be taken to help apprehend the violator:
- Distribution of circulars, letters or bulletins to civil police agencies, gate guards, unit commanders, service stations, garages and insurance agencies. This information should be disseminated at patrol briefings to all MPs.
- Contact medical facilities in the area to check on any person who may have sought medical attention following the accident. If blood and/or hair samples of the victim are needed, this should be arranged.
- Examination of stolen vehicle and accident reports.
- Examination of records of license suspension/revocation, etc.
- Examination of registration records, sales and transfers.
- Checks with automobile insurance agencies that cater to military personnel.
- Secure press, radio and television coverage.
- Check the accident scene for additional witnesses, particularly the next day at the same time. Persons with established routes may be able to provide additional information.
When the suspected vehicle is located, a systematic examination should be initiated with these objectives:
- Uncover physical evidence to establish whether or not it was involved in an accident. (There has been a case in which the victim's lip print was matched to a print left on a suspect vehicle's bumper.)
- Compare physical evidence obtained at the scene to that of the suspect vehicle. This includes damage, location, severity, marks etc. It may be necessary to examine the bottom of a vehicle for trace evidence.
- Compare evidentiary material obtained from the victim and/or the victim's vehicle with evidentiary material collected from the suspect's vehicle.
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