In Event Data Recorders: Proper Evidence Collection in Criminal, Insurance and Tort Liability Investigations, accident investigation expert witness Shawn Gyorke writes:
The mandatory terms of this type of legislation (preservation of physical evidence), which demands the preservation and production of all forensic evidence, can be reinforced by the explicit terms of a corresponding criminal code, wherein law enforcement can be found criminally culpable for failures in compliance. Under the Illinois statute, it is “unlawful for a law enforcement agency or an agent acting on behalf of the law enforcement agency to intentionally fail to comply with the provisions of subsection (a) of Section 116” 3. A violation of this statute constitutes a Class 4 Felony for which an Illinois law enforcement official could be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for 1 to 3 years.
Many other states, including Alaska, Arkansas and South Carolina4, have similarly worded procedural codes requiring the preservation of all forensic evidence on serious crimes. However, the list of states with legislative requirements for the preservation of evidence expands to an overwhelming majority wherein specific biological or DNA evidence could be collected. While the scope of this additional legislation is not discussed within the confines of this article, it could be argued that only on the rarest of occasions, is blood or other biological material not deposited at the scene of a fatal traffic crash.
Shawn Gyorke is a Certified Accident Reconstructionist with education, training and experience in the investigation, reconstruction, and analysis of personal injury and fatal traffic crashes. His company is Crash Data Services, LLC.