The use of dashcams in private vehicles is a legal grey area in a few aspects. Yet sales of the cameras have increased 200 percent in the last five years, and there's no sign of that growth stopping any time soon.
Video and audio from private dashcams has been used as evidence in court. But until and unless uniform federal laws are set regarding the recording of video and audio from dashcams, here's what you need to know to protect yourself from a lawsuit.
There's almost no such thing as a private external dashcam video.
That may not make sense at first but the law would define most footage caught by your private dashcam as depicting events that happened in public spaces. There is no expectation of privacy when in public.
Since you won't be taking your vehicle inside anyone's home - hopefully - you are within your rights to film what is happening around your vehicle whether in parking lots, driveways or while moving.
There are legal limitations to your right to record.
If you are inside a garage, barn or filming with a zoom capability into someone's home, that could present a legal challenge. Only if you are filming where you have a legal right to be, such as on a sidewalk or on your own property, can you film whatever it is you see.
Once your vehicle is on private property you could be subject to Peeping Tom laws.
Audio recordings are also restricted by law, and there is little uniformity in state statutes. In some states you may record audio as long as only one person having a conversation - yourself - consents. In other states, both parties must consent, or none may have to give permission.
Your passengers should consent to being recorded.
Whether or not it is legal to record video and audio from your passengers depends on the rules in your state and on the circumstances. It's a wise and safe practice to let passengers know they are being recorded and to have their consent.
It could help to place prominent signs inside passenger areas and outside of your vehicle alerting people to the presence of cameras and microphones. Such a warning may provide some legal protection.
Before you record anything with your dashcam consult an attorney, such as Bayer Jerger & Underwood, to find out the laws in your area. He or she will inform you about the latest court decisions regarding dashcam recordings captured from privately owned vehicles.