Advice on dash cam legislation

The legal requirements regarding dashcams in vehicles are:

  • Where you install your aftermarket video camera;
  • Is the video recording invading the privacy of others;
  • Is the audio recording infringing privacy laws.
Legislative requirements

USA

In USA each state has its own regulations and below we list the differences you might need to know about.

Generally, if your dashboard camera obscures more than a 7-inch square area on the passenger’s side or a 5-inch square area on the drivers’ side, you might have some legal issues. Of course, this will vary country by country and state by state. (These rules also cover the installation of GPS monitors).

Despite its name, a dashboard camera is usually mounted on the windshield. Provided the mount of your dashboard camera is placed outside the area covered by windshield wipers it should be OK. The key issue is that the DVR does not obstruct the driver’s view of the road ahead.

Ways around this problem include:

  • (a) to use cameras that are integral to the rearview mirror or
  • (b) use unobtrusive fittings to the permitted area of windshield.

(a) These brands include the dash camera/recorder in a replacement rear view mirror which is strapped over the existing mirror.

TOGUARD Dash Cam with Rear view Mirror Dual Dash Cams Monitor: 4.3 Inch Touch Screen; 1080P Front Car Camera Video Recorder and 480P Backup and  Parking Camera; G-Sensor; Loop Recording
TOGUARD Backup Camera 7" Mirror Dash Cam Touch Screen 1080P Rearview Front and Rear Dual Lens with Waterproof Reversing Camera
YI Mirror Dash Cam, Dual Dashboard Camera Recorder with Touch Screen, Front Rear View HD Camera, G Sensor, Reverse Monitor, Loop Recording
PRUVEEO D700 7-Inch Touch Screen Backup Camera Dash Cam Front and Rear Dual Channel with Rear View Reversing Camera
Auto-Vox also make dash cams that incorporate the rear view mirror.

(b) These dash cam kits do not use suction cups but adhere the dash cam onto the actual windshield, thus being far less obtrusive:

AUKEY Dash Cam, Dashboard Camera Recorder with Full HD 1080P, 6-Lane 170° Wide Angle Lens, 2" LCD and Night Vision
PRUVEEO Upgrade Version PF5 FHD 1080P Dash Cam for cars - with WiFi and 170 wide angle of view
REXING V1 3rd Generation 4K UHD WiFi Car Dash Cam with 2.4" LCD screen; 170° Wide Angle of view; 16GB Card; G-Sensor; WDR; Loop Recording. This kit provides a very high quality video recording and includes a micro card.

If you are not sure about the legal situation where you live, then consult a lawyer, or read the relevant code or law yourself, before mounting anything to your windshield that could obstruct your view of the road.

Laws can change, but at the time of writing this post, this is the situation:

These states prohibit windshield obstructions:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

These states have some restrictions on windshield obstructions:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinoi, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Utah, Vermont.

These states have no restrictions:

Missouri, North Carolina.

Legislative Requirements

UK

Other countries also have legislation covering the use of dash cams.

In the UK, a dash cam must be fitted where it is not intruding into your line of sight. This means it can capture both lanes of the road ahead, along with the signage on either side, but not distract the driver.

Failing to correctly position a dash cam is a traffic offence; most of the windscreen is, in fact, out of bounds, according to the UK Road Traffic Act 1988. The law divides the windscreen into two zones:

•        Zone A is a 290mm area centred on the steering wheel – this is extended to 350mm in goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW

•        Zone B is the area of the windscreen ‘swept’ by your wipers.

No part of the device – camera, cradle, suction cup or cables – should intrude more than 40mm into Zone B or 10mm intrusion into Zone A.

If police decide that it's positioned unsafely you could be in for a fine, and footage recorded on it could be rendered inadmissible in court.  Additionally, if your dash cam is illegally placed, your vehicle might fail its MOT.

Apart from positioning, the other crucial law governing dash cams is those with an LED screen. In the UK, screens on cameras must not display footage at any time while the vehicle is in motion. If the screen is on and the driver can see it, this is classed as a serious offence as it is a major distraction.

Dash cams have a long power lead to place around the edge of your windscreen before connecting it to the cigarette lighter. We recommend that you tuck the wiring behind the trim around the windscreen.

If you can install the camera behind the rear-view mirror it is definitely out of the driver’s view and meets all of the legal requirements.

These dash cams are part of a replacement rear view mirror and so avoid the windscreen altogether. You just strap the new mirror over your existing unit.

Auto-Vox M6


But if you prefer not to use your rear view mirror, here are two recommended alternative dash camera systems that stick directly on to your windscreen and are less intrusive to the driver’s vision.

ANKER ROAV Dash Cam C1 Pro; 2K Resolution 2560X1440 and Built-In GPS/WiFi: 2.4″ LCD screen; 4-Lane Wide-Angle View Lens; G-Sensor; WDR technology; Loop Recording; 2-Port Charger; 32G microSD Card included. This has a superb image quality and GPS. Also 32GB micro card.

REXING V1 Car Dash Cam 1080P Full HD 170 Degrees; Camera adheres to windscreen WDR technology to upgrade video footage.

Legislative Requirements

Europe

Some European countries do not allow the use of dash cams as it breaches various laws related to privacy and data protection.

Countries where you can’t use your dash cam include:

Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal.

Countries where there are restrictions include:

France, Germany, Norway, UK (where the driver’s view cannot be obscured, and where you cannot watch live footage whilst driving) and Switzerland where the use is legal but strongly discouraged due to privacy considerations.  Remember, Data Protection laws can restrict usage throughout Europe. 


More about Privacy Laws below:

Laws concerning Privacy

Many countries have laws concerning privacy.  Most dash cam recordings will take place on public roads and will not include audio outside the vehicle and so will comply with these laws.  However, remember not to use your dashcam when crossing borders as border control officers will not allow filming at sensitive places.

If your vehicle is shared, as a part of a company scheme, for example, you must inform those travelling that a dashcam is installed. This is because most record sound, while others can video record the inside of the vehicle. If people don’t know they are being recorded, then this is a serious breach of privacy. It's up to you to let them know. This is particularly important for those who run taxis or vehicles for hire, such as cab drivers, minicab drivers and coach drivers.  If a dashcam is used, the driver must inform every passenger who enters their vehicle, or face potentially harsh legal consequences.

Even if your car is for personal use only, but your device records audio, inform your passengers or switch it off.  This is a requirement throughout the world.

And finally:

Using dashcams can provide peace of mind should you have an accident, can be entertaining as a record of a memorable journey, can provide security and can reduce insurance premiums.  Ensure you know the laws where you live, and where you intend to drive, and you can be confident of the benefits of your purchase.