What is a Dash Cam and is it Legal?


What are dash cams?

Dash cam or dashboard camera, is a device designed to continuously monitor and record your driving. The moment you start your car, the camera records video directly onto a memory card on a continuous loop. This means you'll never have to worry about formatting your card once its full. With loop recording, once your memory card is full, it will overwrite the earliest file and continue recording. 

Dash cams can cost anywhere from the low $20s to the high $500s. They easily mount to the windshield of your car, and connects to a 12-volt wiring to your vehicle, or your cigarette outlet. They're popular in Asian countries, Russia, U.K., and the U.S.

So what are the benefits?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, with a video its endless. Capture and record undeniable evidence of what is going on around you.

Is it legal to use dash cams?

Because dash cams record video and possibly audio, it can be considered as a electronic surveillance device. In the U.S. there are no federal laws against dash cam recordings. However, local state laws may differ. Check to make sure you comply with local state laws. 

In general, recording video on public streets is not a violation of privacy.

Is it illegal to record audio with your dash cam?

Some states have "all party" laws where all participants in a conversation must consent to being recorded. You could face a civil suit or criminal prosecution if you do not have the participant's permission.

In "one party" states, participants in a conversation can consent to audio recordings as long as you consent, which basically means as long as you run the dash cam you will not be liable.

What about dash cams that run while you are away from your vehicle? If you run a dash cam while you’re not in the car, you might run into problems even in one party states, since it could record interactions to which you are not a party.

Don't be deterred by this. If you are worried, you can either inform everyone in your car that audio is being recorded or disable the audio recording function.

Where does the dash cam go?

In general, we recommend placing your dash cam behind the rear view mirror. Many drivers are unaware of laws that prohibits objects that obstruct the driver's view. Some jurisdictions have specific laws about how much space a dash cam or GPS unit can take up in your windshield viewing area. Check with local laws for specific details.