Are Dash Cams Legal? To answer bluntly, it really depends where you are located and where you hope to go. We are going to focus the majority of this article around the legality of dash cams within the states of the United States.
Thankfully within the United States, dash cams are allowed to be purchased, owned and utilized when driving or otherwise. But even dash cam laws by state vary greatly because of how the government is set up, allowing States to have more freedom in how they govern.
We also conducted research on various countries and the results are pretty surprising. Not all countries are the same and some have really strict restrictions to dash cams including some countries allowing the purchase of the dash cam, but restricting the use of it in a car. So what’s the point of allowing the purchase of dash cams?!
If you are reading this article, chances are you already have a dash cam or are thinking about obtaining one. Have you seen the Russian dash cam videos? In Russia, dash cams are common place to combat those looking to abuse the court system and win a quick buck. No matter where you are, I’m a strong advocate of having a dash cam. It protects others as well as yourself. What happens when a car abruptly cuts in front of you for no reason? To a judge or police officer, they’ll just see an accident where your car hit theirs with no other context. Fundamentally, we know that isn’t right.
Are dash cam videos admissible in court?
Without the dash cam in all likelihood there would probably be no arrest or prosecution or even investigation…
Generally, yes dash cam videos can be used as evidence in a court setting. Dash cam footage can be shown to prove your innocence, but your own footage can be used against you as well. It is a double-edged sword. Understand traffic laws in-depth before you present new evidence into the situation. Having a dash cam film a situation where a car abruptly stops in front of you and you crash into their bumper will always end in your fault. The footage most likely won’t give a good angle of what was occurring in front of the other person’s car. But in situations where someone runs a red light or cuts you off; evidence like that is always used in the courts.
Here’s a perfect example of a dash cam leading to law enforcement arresting a reckless driver back in 2019.
Will using a dash cam change your insurance costs?
Utilizing dash cams will not directly affect your insurance premium or have a discount applied, unfortunately. But, it can help you in other, indirect ways. For one, it can be used to prove your innocence when it comes to collision accidents. By doing this, it will keep your monthly payments down as you won’t have any incidents on your record. For $50-$150, we feel like a dash cam purchase is reasonable.
There are really two main caveats to having a dash cam setup in the United States, regardless of the state. They are the Dash Cam Mounting Laws and the Privacy Laws. We’ll explore into those two caveats state by state to hopefully better inform you. We will also briefly cover major European and Asian countries and their laws towards dash cams. There are only a few places in the world that will explicitly fine you if you have a dash cam visible so keep a look out for those. As this will be a long article, feel free to use the Table of Contents to skip to your state or country for immediate access. Or use the search functionality built into your browser.
Mounting Laws are in place in order to protect the driver from obstructing the driver’s view. For mounting, general common sense is the best strategy for ensuring you are a law abiding citizen. There aren’t explicit rules or laws on the use of a dash camera. Generally, most states allow you to mount dash cams onto your windshield in a safe and non-obtrusive way. This means setting up dash cams underneath your rear view mirror is the safest spot. Do not mount your dash camera in the passenger or driver’s side view.
Surveillance and Privacy Laws
Privacy laws have become a contentious discussion around the world. People have various opinions on what constitutes a breach of privacy and typically anything with a camera heightens the scrutiny. A dashboard camera is recording everything it sees from the car. While your car is in your private residence like a garage or driveway, the dash cam owner has a reasonable intent to record freely. But when the camera is in public, laws can vary state to state and country to country. Filming in public is fairly legal in most of the United States, but once the camera captures personally identifiable information (PII), information that can uniquely identify an individual such as a face or a license plate, the law steps in.
It is important to define consent laws in the United States. There are certain states that abide by the two-party consent definition, where all parties involved need to consent before any video or audio recording begins. One-party consent is where as long as you are the participant of the interaction, you are allowed to record without the other parties’ knowledge. This is vital for your dash cam use, especially if you plan on posting the footage to YouTube or anywhere on the internet. If you live in a single-party consent state and the person is identifiable through the video, you should get permission from them. Blur out their faces just to be safe. We’re going to go over state by state what the laws are for surveillance.
We’re going to be linking every state’s law pertaining to windshield obstruction or close to it. If you don’t see anything pertaining to that subject, then the state doesn’t have any explicit law about mounting or placement of the dash cam. As always, if you want to be extra cautious, you can consult with an attorney for legal advice. All of these links are subject to change and vary between jurisdiction.
One-Party Consent States
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Austria, Portugal, Luxembourg
The use of dash cams or recording devices in public is completely not allowed and illegal. Definitely hide your dash cam in your glove compartment if you drive through these countries. Austria will fine you 10,000 euros for a first time offense; you aren’t even allowed to own a dash cam. In Luxembourg, owning a dash cam is fine, but using it is illegal. Very strict! And finally, Portugal is similar to Austria, you aren’t allowed to own or buy a dash cam in this country. Be careful driving from Spain to Portugal!
Norway, Italy, Denmark, Bosnia, Netherlands, Malta, Spain, Sweden, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada,
Dash Cams are legal in these countries with minimal restrictions such as vision obstruction. In the United Kingdom, dash cams are allowed but if you operate a taxi cab or other shared vehicle, passengers have to be notified.
Dash Cams are legal in this country with no restrictions. Dash cams are actively encouraged by the Russian Government and have funded an online portal to upload dash cam footage to help police with their investigations.
Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland
Dash Cams are legal in these countries but will have heavier restrictions than most. In France and Belgium, dash cams are legal but only for private use meaning you cannot post footage online. Footage from an accident has to be given immediately to the police. In Germany, you can share footage publicly as long as PPI such as license plates or faces are blurred out. In Switzerland, even though dash cams are legal, they are pretty unusable unless in specific conditions. For one, they can’t be used for entertainment such as recording your journey. Additionally, they need to be clearly visible to others on the road, which opposes the discreteness of many dash cam setups.