It took police less than 24 hours to identify an individual who filmed himself driving a car from the passenger seat, with the footage later appearing briefly on YouTube.
Eric B., a 20-year-old student from France, turned himself over to the authorities on Thursday in La Verneda (Barcelona), in the company of his mother and lawyer.
A day earlier, the police had used social networks to request citizen cooperation in finding the identity of the reckless driver.
Police sources said that an internet user had seen the video on YouTube and sent them the link, with a note saying that "this might be a crime." The National Police then used its Twitter feed to request help identifying the driver. “Don't let anyone play with your life or anyone else's on the road. We are searching for him," said the message.
Less than an hour after it was uploaded, the video had been pulled from the video-sharing website. But the wheels were already in motion on the social networks. According to the Interior Ministry, more than 40 citizens sent emails with information on the driver that very same Wednesday. By nighttime, police officers were knocking on his door in Castelldefels, although he was not there at the time.
The 36-second video shows a blond youngster wearing sunglasses and sitting in the passenger seat of a car. He yawns and pretends to wake up because of the loud music coming from the stereo system. "Javi, turn that music down," he says. Then the camera turns to reveal that the driver's seat is, in fact, empty, and that the car appears to be driving by itself at great speed. A few seconds later it can be seen that the young man is actually driving with his left hand from the passenger seat, and is even able to overtake a truck in this manner. The final shot is a close-up of his smiling face.
Police sources reported that he had most likely activated the car's cruise control, which freed him from using the pedals, but noted the danger in the event of a sudden need to brake.
Eric B. is being accused of reckless driving, which entails a prison sentence of six months to two years and a fine or community work. His lawyer said he is "very repentant" and ready to cooperate fully.
Last year, the Civil Guard arrested a man who uploaded videos of the illegal car races he organized. Another young man was arrested for a YouTube video in which he was seen driving at 240km/h.