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Dash Cam and Radar Detectors Laws You Need To Know

Dash Cam and Radar Detectors Laws You Need To Know

Dashboard cameras are a great way to improve the safety and security of motorists and cars on the road, and we cannot deny the power of dash cam footage in the event of an incident, such as a car accident.

But are dash cams legal? One concern many new dash cam owners have is whether or not they are allowed to use their device. While dash cams are legal to have in your car on the road, restrictions affecting legal dash cam installation and placement do vary from state to state.

The good news is that in general, you are legally allowed to drive with a dash cam in the US. But there are wiretapping laws and privacy laws that you need to be aware of - after all, a dash cam is technically a form of surveillance.

Are dash cams legal in my area?

While dash cams are legal in the US, some places discourage dash cams. The border crosses is a good example.

It all starts with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and its Rules & Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, and here’s what the relevant section (41 CFR 102-74-420) says:

Photographs for News, Advertising, or Commercial Purposes (41 CFR 102-74.420). Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of:

  • (a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;
  • (b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned, and;
  • (c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors or auditoriums for news purposes.

In other words, you will need permission from the US Customs & Border Protection Officers to keep your dash cam on and filming when you are crossing the border on the American Side.

What about dash cams that record audio - the issue of personal privacy

One of the concerns raised by dash cam is electronic surveillance especially in terms of audio recording. While it is true that the camera is focused on the road ahead and never really on the occupants of the vehicle, it does come with audio recording capabilities that allows it to record noise from inside the cabin of the car, including conversations between the occupants.

If you are travelling alone, then this is certainly not an issue. However, if you have a passenger with you, most laws on electronic surveillance require you to inform your passenger(s) that you have a dash cam on board and may record any conversations within the car.

Twelve states in the US require both parties to provide consent to the audio recording. This means both you and your passenger(s) should consent to the recording of any audio that may emanate from within the cabin of the car. These states include California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

For the other 38 states, including the District of Columbia, only the passenger news to give his or her consent. And there are currently no regulations or requirements in the state of Vermont.

This audio recording law does not apply to dash cams unless a conversation is recorded. The alternative option is to turn off or deactivate the audio recording functionality of the dash cam.

Windshield Obstructions

Another important consideration has to do with where the dash cam sits in reference to the driver’s view or line of sight. This is very similar to the placement of stickers and decals on the windshield and It is not unheard of that people have gotten tickets for objects like air fresheners and phone mounts in certain states.

In states like Nevada, Kentucky, Maryland and New York, it is perfectly legal to mount a device on a suction cup mount on the windshield (yes, phone, GPS, dash cam, you name it - as long as it is not blocking the driver's line of sight).

In states like Texas and Washington, your device and mount has to follow specific rules. For instances, the dash cam and mount cannot take up more than a 7-inch square area on the passenger’s side or a 5-inch square area on the drivers’ side. Then, there are states with windshield prohibition policies.

How can you avoid obstruction tickets? Our tip is to get discreet cameras and to mount the dash cam on the small area behind the rearview mirror.

Are radar detectors and radar jammers legal?

Radar detectors are usually legal in the US and as a driver you are allowed to have a radar detector in your car - only Washington DC and Virginia ban the use of radar detectors. For all other states, ownership and use of radar detectors are allowed in private vehicles, though California, Florida and Pennsylvania have restrictions on where you can mount the dash cam on your windshield.

Radar jammers, on the other hand, are illegal and using them could lead to charges, hefty fines and even jail times in any state where you are using the device.

#Radar Jammers are devices designed to interfere with the police radars and prevent them from detecting your current speed. While jammers are usually installed as hidden devices so cops can’t see them, but cops will notice that they cannot determine your current speed - as a result, you will be pulled over and if you are caught using a radar jammer, you’ll end up with an expensive fine and also confiscation.

Helping you stay out of trouble

As the popularity around the use of dash cam footage grows with law enforcement and insurers in helping provide irrefutable evident in the event of an incident, it is highly unlikely that police officers will pull drivers over unless the dash cam is mounted in an area of the windshield that obstructs the video of the road of the driver. The best thing to do is to look at the dash cam laws in your own state. It also pays to learn the laws of other states especially if you plan on travelling across states or even overseas. The smart thing to do is choose a discreet dash cam model that you can easily mount behind your rearview mirror, that way, you will get the protection of the dash cam without getting yourself in trouble with the law.

Until next time, Safe Summer Driving, everyone!

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