Where’s the downside?

The truth is, there isn’t much downside to any dashboard camera. Some states and jurisdictions have laws against making audio recordings without the knowledge of the person being recorded, but only some dash cams include in-car audio, and these can be switched off.

There have been cases where motorcyclists with helmet cameras were prosecuted for recording the police during a stop, but this is an area of law that is evolving very quickly. Check your local laws to be certain but in general, dashboard cameras are recording public activity and that’s completely legal. Of course, the impartial proof of dash cam footage cuts both ways.

If you’re the one at fault in an accident, the camera’s going to record that fact, too. “Dash cams would document an at-fault rear-end collision, but chances are if the dash cam owner rear-ended someone, they’d be found to be at fault regardless. The same holds true for failing to yield to oncoming traffic making a left turn; the dash cam would show the oncoming vehicle that the owner didn’t see, but again, failing to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn is going to be the owners fault whether the incident is captured on a dash cam or not.” There’s one important warning to consider:

if you have a dash cam and it records an accident, don’t delete the footage. Dash cam footage is evidence that may be subpoenaed by a court in civil or criminal cases. “If a vehicle owner does install a dash cam, and the camera captures an incident, the owner should not destroy the data,” Veillon warns. “If it captures an incident involving other drivers, the owner should turn the footage over to the authorities. If it captures an incident involving the owner, then if the owner destroys the data the other party may claim ‘spoliation of evidence,’ which in the context of a civil claim permits a jury to infer that there was something on the footage the owner didn’t want them to see. That can turn a clear liability claim into a much harder claim to prosecute.”

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