Using a dashboard camera is no longer a fad, as it used to be. People all over the world are now using them. Dashboard cameras, popularly known as dash, are extremely useful. They come with a wide range of benefits. However, before you purchase and install one in your vehicle, you should find out whether they are legal in your state.
Dash cameras pose two serious issues, which should be handled with extreme care. The first issue is obstruction and the second one is electronic surveillance. These two issues are handled differently in different states. Therefore, it is important to investigate how the law applies in your state, before you hit the road with a dashboard camera on your car.
Legality of Obstructed Views
The first legal issue that you may encounter when you purchase a dash camera is the fact that most of them are not installed on the actual dashboard, despite the name. Instead, majority are designed to be attached on the windshield, using a suction cup mounting system. The reason why this is a legal issue is that most jurisdictions or states have certain restrictions or limitations to the amount of obstruction on the windshield, by devices like dash cameras and GPS units.
The general requirement is that a dash camera should not obscure more than 5-inch square area on the driver’s side and 7-inch square area on the side of the passenger. If your dashboard exceeds these limits, then you might encounter some legal issues.
Some states have tighter restrictions while others have not placed any limitations on windshield obstruction. Therefore, it all depends on where you will be driving. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to contact the local law enforcement or talk to a lawyer, who is experienced in these matters. The good news is that most jurisdictions provide online access to such information.
Dash cameras are technically a form of electronic surveillance. The first issue that you might face is audio recording. In the United States, 38 states allow recording as long as one party consents. However, the remaining 12 states require both parties to consent, before you can record a conversation.
You should note that this audio recording law is not applicable to dash cameras in their usual state, unless recording a conversation happens. However, in a situation where the recorded conversation can be used as evidence in a court of law, then the law does not apply in the 12 states. Audio recording should not be a problem when it comes to dash cameras, since most of them cannot record outside audio. Most of them can only record internal conversation coming from inside the car.
As you can see, you are on the safe side of the law, when it comes to electronic surveillance, in relation to dashboard cameras. However, if you intend to cross over to Switzerland, then you should know dashboard cameras are illegal there. In the U.S., and Australia, they are legal. Ensure you consult your local law enforcement authority with regards to the legality of dash cameras in your state.