Are Dashcams Legal Across The US?
When dash cams were first introduced, there didn't receive as much popularity initially. But as time passed by, more and more useful features were added to the device. The dashcam no longer just recorded all the happenings that occur on the car drive, but they began to enhance the users' driving experience, and that's the point when dashcams took off in the market. And today, almost everyone in the United States owns a car dashcam. However, most people do not know that laws govern the usage of dash cams in automobiles, and not being wary of them could land you an expensive fine! Although these handy devices are legal in all States and no federal law prohibits their use, some laws prohibit the mounting of dash cams in specific locations that might obstruct your vision. Another issue of electronic surveillance arises in some states, which could land you in trouble.
Law Prohibiting Obstructed Vision
Despite the dashcams being called 'dash,' they aren't designed or installed on the car dashboard. Instead, they have this suction cup at the bottom of the frame that sticks against the car's windshield. Because of this reason, many drivers end up placing their dash cams in locations that end up obstructing the vision of the drive, which could potentially lead to dire consequences. The dashcam blocking the vision would create a new blind spot for the driver, which might end up covering an incoming danger and causing a fatal car crash.
The law has always prioritized people's safety. So many jurisdictions have placed strict restrictions on how much of the windshield can be concealed by devices such as dashcams and GPS navigation systems. The rules clearly state that the dashcam can't block the windshield more than the 5-inch square on the driver's side of the 7-inch square on the passenger's side. If it does, you might be visiting the court very soon. Keep in mind; different laws are practiced in different states. Some areas have ruled an even tighter restriction, while others don't even have any laws that restrict the use of dash cams on the windshield. It's always a good practice to know the local government laws before deciding!
One straightforward option to know the laws for the State you live in is to contact your local police or a lawyer directly. But if you don't want to bother asking, you can simply look up on the internet and find what you are looking for quite easily since many jurisdictions provide online access to local laws and rules.
Some States Restrict Windshield-Mounted Dash Cams
While some states restrict the vision obstruction on the car's windshield, others choose to completely prohibit the mounting of a dashcam or other similar devices on the car's windshield. Do note that the intention behind this law is still to prevent any devices or items from blocking the driver's vision of the road. Some of these rules aren't directly related to dashcams blocking the driver's vision but instead regulate the use of sunscreens and stickers on the windshield. Unfortunately, the words can be pretty vague, so it's best to confirm the information from multiple sources. Mounting the dashcam to your dashboard isn't a perfect solution either. As long as it looks that your dashcam is blocking off the driver's critical vision of the road, you are bound to get pulled over and fined accordingly. Laws of the United States fall into three main categories: the States outlining specific or vague restrictions on obstruction of car windshields, the states specifying the areas of the windshield that are allowed to be obstructed, and the states where there's no mention of windshield obstructions.
Keep in mind that the legal laws governing the dash and window-mounted devices of any state can be changed at any time. Even if the use of dash or window-mounted dashcam is allowed today, it doesn't mean it will be allowed tomorrow as well. It makes it an excellent choice to refer to a local law enforcer or a lawyer before you mount anything in your car.
The Issue of Electronic Surveillance
Dashcams record videos and audio of the public surroundings of your car. Technically, you are carrying out surveillance despite your intentions. Meaning, you can run into problems in states that have strict rules against electronic surveillance. Data protection laws restrict you from recording and gathering data on other people.
No federal law directly prohibits the use of dashcams in automobiles, but your state government could restrict the surreptitious audio recording being carried by your dashcam. Specific laws prohibit recording people's conversations without letting the participants know about them. To avoid getting into trouble, you could let all your passengers know beforehand that there is a car dashcam recording all the conversations that are taking place in the car or, you can opt to buy a dashcam that doesn't record audio to start with.
To sum it all up, you don't have to worry about installing a dashcam into your car. Still, you should always check the local laws about car windshield obstruction and electronic surveillance to ensure you don't land yourself in some serious trouble. It's always better to be safe than sorry. So, if you are making up your mind to install a dashcam into your car, you would benefit significantly from looking up the legal issues you can encounter if you do things slightly wrong. Stay safe out there!