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Dash Cams: Are They Legal?
With legal disputes over car crashes or accidents becoming ever more common, dash cams are on the rise.
A dash cam is a great source of evidence that can pinpoint who was at fault in an incident, which in turn has the potential to help you resolve a legal case far more quickly and accurately.
But does dash cam footage stand up as evidence in a court of law? Here’s a look at the legal points you need to consider before installing a dash cam.
A Clear View
The first point that can land you on the wrong side of the law is obstruction of view. If your dash cam is installed in such a way that it blocks your view through your front windshield, then it has the potential to get you in trouble.
As many “dash” cams actually attach to the windscreen using a suction mount rather than to the dashboard, this can become a very real issue.
Different Places, Different Rules
In some countries or territories, especially in many states in the US, windscreen mounts are actually prohibited, so it is essential that you check your local laws before investing in a dash cam to ensure that it’s not a wasted purchase.
Although specific regulations vary from country to country, for those that do allow windscreen mounts it is generally recognised that a dash cam should not exceed 5 inches squared on the driver’s side of the windshield, or 7 inches squared on the passenger’s side.
It’s advisable that you check the local laws in your area of residence to ensure that you remain within the law on this issue. However, the laws can often be vague or confusing, so if you’re unsure then it may be best to seek the advice of a legal expert.
If you’re uncertain of the exact rules in your area, it is often possible to find specific legal information online, but it is important to note that laws are ever-changing on this matter so it is important to remain up to date on any amendments.
The second key legal issue that could land you in murky waters when it comes to dash cams is that of electronic surveillance.
Although you are technically a participant in the recording that is being made by your dash cam, rather than it being an independent recording device, it is still considered to be in breach of electronic surveillance laws in some countries. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that it is legal for you to record in your area before you install a camera in your vehicle.
Furthermore, dash cams are considered to be in breach of data protection laws in countries such as Switzerland, where they are illegal – so it is advisable to take extreme caution before going ahead and recording anything.
Beware of Audio Recordings
To complicate things further, the laws in many countries permit the recording of video but not necessarily of audio, making the ground even more difficult to tread.
If you record a conversation on your dash cam – either on purpose or unwittingly – without all participants being aware, this can see you falling foul of the law in many countries. For this reason, it is important to proceed with care when it comes to your device’s audio settings.
It may be safest to switch off the audio on your device completely, or otherwise to make a habit of informing your passengers that the camera is recording audio when they enter your vehicle. If you put these safeguards in place, you can be sure to avoid falling on the wrong side of the law.
As you can see, when it comes to the legal side of dash cams it really does vary from place to place. Depending on where you live, dash cams may be completely illegal or they may be fully permitted. This is why it’s so important not to rely on general information but rather to check out the specific legal requirements of your country or state.
So long as you are using your dash cam within the confines of your local laws, then there is no reason why the footage it records cannot be submitted as evidence in court.
If you put the right precautions in place, such as ensuring your camera does not obstruct your view, and informing passengers of any audio recordings, you can reap the benefits of having a dash cam and protect yourself against reckless road users and false accusations. Find out more on our home page.