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Installing And Using A Dashcam: 5 Legal Considerations You Should Make

Dash-mounted cameras (or dashcams) are popular in some countries. Indeed, experts believe that around one million people use the devices in Russia, but dashcam adoption in the United States is a lot slower. The legality of these devices is an issue that may put some drivers off the idea, and it's certainly important to consider how the law feels about these surveillance devices. If you're thinking of installing a dashcam, make sure you learn more about the five following legal issues.

Your dashcam must not obscure your vision

Despite the name, you actually fit a lot of dash-mounted cameras to the inside of your windshield. This position gives the camera a birds-eye view of the road ahead, but you also need to consider the impact the device will have on the driver's visibility.

Some state laws do not allow any windshield-mounted devices, including GPS systems and dashcams. Where state laws permit these devices, you may still break the rules if the camera is too large. As such, before you install a dashcam, check any regulations that apply in your state – or in any state where you regularly drive.

You may run into problems if you film a police officer on duty

If a traffic cop pulls your car over, your dashcam will often record the officer in front of your vehicle. Unfortunately, press reports sometimes show that some officers don't appreciate it if you film them and will even try to confiscate your equipment.

According to the First Amendment, lawyers argue that it is perfectly legal to record a police officer on duty. Indeed, some groups have filed lawsuits to officially acknowledge and uphold this right. Nonetheless, not all officers will agree with this viewpoint, and if one of them spots your camera, he or she may still take it away from you.

Dashcam recordings are not always legal

If you want to use evidence from a dashcam in an auto accident lawsuit, you may want to include a recording of what somebody said, as well as what they did. Unfortunately, this activity could land you in hot water.

In some states, it is illegal to record somebody without their permission. What's more, you could face a felony charge if you use a dashcam to make this sort of audio recording. As it isn't generally easy to gain somebody's consent to record what he or she says, a lawyer may tell you to use a dashcam that allows you to disable the audio function.

You could fall foul of distracted driving laws

On average, 9 people die in accidents caused by distracted driving every day in the United States, and thousands more suffer serious injuries. With the increased popularity of mobile phones and tablet computers, state lawmakers have introduced several tough distracted driving laws that forbid the use of these devices when you are behind the wheel.

Distracted driving limitations don't often distinguish between types of electronic device, so it is generally illegal to use a dashcam while you are on the move. If a traffic officer sees you adjusting or fiddling with the camera, he or she may pull you over and book you for the offense.

Dashcam evidence could backfire

Dashcams appeal to drivers because the recorded evidence can help prove liability after a collision. In a case that would once have depended on who a jury believed, dashcam evidence can now more robustly prove negligence and liability.

Nonetheless, it's important to remember this issue works both ways. Before you present dashcam evidence in court, you should make sure your attorney reviews and considers the impact of the recording. While you may think the footage proves the other driver made a serious mistake, the recording may also show you were negligent in some way.

While dashcams are almost essential when driving in countries like Russia, fewer American drivers have adopted these handy devices. Dashcams can help prove liability in an auto accident, but you should carefully consider all the legal implications of these devices.