The Facts Behind Dashboard Camera Legality in the U.S.

Dashboard cameras have quickly become one of the more common vehicle accessories. They were first introduced to Americans in the 80s as police departments had VHS recorders mounted in their vehicles. It is said that they were used to ensure the safety of officers surveying rural areas. The original dashboard camera was very bulky and expensive, which is a major reason why they did not originally catch on. They were reintroduced in the 90s in reaction to the rising amount of questionable police brutality cases and were the key catalysts behind the TV show “Cops.”

While the police force in America had embraced dashcams, the were highly implemented in Russia by common citizens in the early 00s. This was in response to the increasing number of people who would throw themselves in front of vehicles in search of compensation. With recent technological advances, dashcams have become smaller and less expensive, making them readily available to the everyday driver. The usefulness of such cameras are evident, but there are still a few stipulations when it comes to dashcam use in the U.S.

The videotaping of public events is covered under the First Amendment. This is what makes the use of dashboard cameras legal in America. What does require a little more scrutiny is the question of electronic surveillance and vision obstruction.

Electronic Surveillance

Many dashboard cameras record audio as well as video. Thirty-eight states permit audio recording as long as one party consents, but there are 12 other states that require both parties to provide consent. Florida, California, and Illinois are a few of these states. The remainder of the states on this list can be found here.

This is not a major issue as most dashboard cameras only record internal audio (sounds from inside the vehicle) and not external audio (sounds from outside the vehicle). In any case, it important you know that any audio recorded by a dashboard camera can be used by law enforcement if it helps find a suspect or solve a crime.

Vision Obstruction

They may be referred to as dashboard cameras but a large majority of them are actually attached to the windshield. This brings forward the question of vision obstruction. There are nationwide stipulations that limit how much of your windshield can be covered. These laws are strictly enforced when it comes to tinting windshields and the use of any windshield adhesives including GPS navigation devices. Generally, your dashboard camera should not take up any more than a 7-inch area on the passenger side or a 5-inch area on the driver’s side. Specific state-to-state vision obstruction restrictions are detailed here.

A dashboard camera can help prove your case in the event of a car accident. Car Accident Cases can get you in contact with a car accident attorney in your area who can use this piece of evidence to help you retrieve maximum compensation. A local car accident lawyer who is well-versed in city-specific traffic laws can provide you with the legal representation needed to win your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.