Dashcams are becoming more and more ubiquitous in the United States. Fleet managers and owners need to understand the laws that cover dashcams in order to remain compliant and avoid fines. Dashcams are powerful tools that can protect fleet owners from fraud. However, if used in an illegal way (even if unintentional) they can cause issues themselves. In this article, we will provide an in-depth look at dashcam laws for fleet managers and owners.
We will cover surveillance regulations that affect drivers with dashcams, view obstruction laws that can get owners into trouble, and California dashcam laws. In addition, we will outline who can use dashcam footage in the event of an accident or insurance claim.
Dashcam Laws by State: Surveillance Regulations
Many dashcams have a feature that can cause legal issues for fleets if they are not careful. That feature is recording audio inside of the cab. In many states doing so without getting consent can get drivers into legal trouble.
Most states have laws allowing people to record conversations with the consent of just one person. This lets anyone record their own conversations with or without letting other recorded parties know they are being recorded.
However, in 12 states it’s illegal to record a conversation without the express permission of all of the people participating in the conversation. These states are Connecticut, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The penalties for recording a conversation on dashcam without the other party’s consent in these 12 states range from fines to even jail time in some situations. In addition, these illegal recordings are inadmissible in court.
Fleet managers should make sure their drivers are aware of the 12 states’ surveillance regulations and how they apply to dashcams. Make sure your drivers know they must get consent before recording in-cab conversations on dashcam in the previously mentioned states or turn off the camera’s microphone.
In addition, drivers should be aware that while recording in public is legal, using a dashcam to capture video of a private residence could be considered an illegal invasion of privacy in some situations.
Police Dashcam Laws by State: View Obstruction Regulations
Be mindful of where you mount dashcams in your fleet vehicles. Not all U.S. states permit dashcams to be mounted onto a vehicle’s windshield. The states where it is legal to mount a dashcam on a vehicle’s window include Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Alaska, New York, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi.
Some states allow dashcams to be mounted on a car’s windscreen, but with exceptions. These states include California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Indiana, Washington D.C., and Maryland.
These laws are in place to make sure drivers have a clear view of the road. Ideally, the driver’s view of the road should be unobstructed, as obstructions increase the risk of traffic accidents.
It’s important to note that these laws don’t make dashcams illegal or ban their use. As long as they don’t interfere with having a clear view of the road (what this means precisely varies by state) they will not cause an issue.
Some fleets decide to mount their dashcams on their vehicle’s dashes as this position does not obscure the driver’s view of the road. However, the dashcam doesn’t get as good of a view of the road from this angle.
Be sure to check with state resources to see what specific dashcam laws apply to your drivers in the jurisdictions they operate in before mounting a unit. Remember that dashcam laws vary from state to state and a legal dashcam placement in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another.
California Dashcam Laws
It used to be illegal in California to install a dashcam on a privately-owned vehicle. However, in 2011 laws were passed that clarified where dashcams could be placed and what the requirements are for notifying people they are being recorded.
Today, it’s legal to have a dashcam installed in a fleet vehicle in California, but there are limitations. One limitation is that the dashcam has to be installed in a location that allows the vehicle’s airbags to deploy in the event of an accident. Another is that it cannot be larger than seven square inches if it’s installed in the lower right-hand corner of the vehicle’s windshield. If the dashcam is installed in the upper center of the windscreen it must not be larger than five square inches.
As mentioned earlier, California requires consent from all parties inside the cab to record legally. Drivers in California should inform anyone in their cab that they are being recorded.
Dashcam Laws: Who Can Use the Footage?
Fleet managers should understand that in the event that a fleet driver gets into an accident and is taken to civil or criminal court, the video and audio from the driver’s dashcam can be used by either party in the dispute.
James Franklin, an American lawyer who is a part of his firm’s Transportation, Distribution and Logistics group, wrote that “in every jurisdiction across the country—including all federal and state courts—any video or audio recording captured by the cameras likely would be considered discoverable information in litigation and would have to be produced to the complaining party.”
Note, the law may require businesses to preserve recordings and reports for a pre-determined length of time after a triggering event. Any fleets not in compliance with these regulations may be subject to legal action.
Dashcams are extremely useful tools for fleets. To learn about dashcams for your fleet be sure to contact the team at Azuga. Gain an understanding of dashcams, telematics, GPS asset tracking, and more to help take your fleet to the next level.