Have you been researching all the dash camera options that are out there? Dash cameras are one of the “IT” items flooding the auto accessory market. But before you run out to buy and install one, make sure you do a little investigating of your own and make sure it is actually legal where you live. Two main questions you want to ask are
(1) Does it obstruct my view and
(2) What are the electronic surveillance laws where I live:
- Obstructed Views – Most dash cameras actually don’t even attach to the dashboard at all. They are designed with a suction cup mounting system to attach to your windshield. Most “obstructed view” laws focus on preventing the obstruction of the driver's view of the road. Some laws pertain to windshield obstructions, and others are designed to regulate the placement of items on the windshield, like sunscreens or stickers. So even if you mount your dash cam on your dash, if it looks like it's obstructing your view, you could get pulled over and issued a warning or given a ticket.
- Electronic Surveillance - Although dash cams are a form of “surveillance”, you may still be breaking electronic surveillance laws depending on where you live and there may also be data protection laws in your area. To date, there are no federal laws against dash cameras in the United States. However, that may only apply to video recordings. For instance, there are laws regarding surreptitious audio recordings in the United States, where it may actually be illegal to use a dashcam if it records a conversation in your vehicle without the KNOWLEDGE OF ALL the participants. The keyword there is knowledge. If you notify everyone in your vehicle they are being recorded, then you should be fine. Of course, you may also choose to just buy and install a dash cam that doesn’t record altogether.
The laws in the U.S. generally don’t prohibit the use of dash cameras. You should, however, check on their legality in your area regardless of where you live. Make sure you check for both general restrictions and more specific codes so that you will avoid facing any legal issues. Check your local laws in advance before you hit the ground rolling!