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Considering a dash cam - good idea or not?

IT seems that I run into more than my fair share of wackos in this world and driving down the road is no exception. I am seriously considering a dash cam and was wondering if there are legal or other implications I need to consider before doing so. I see some in the $200 range that record broadcast quality HD video but I am considering something in the $35-50 range to start out. If I upgrade, the cheaper one will be moved to a different car that isn’t driven as much and not be a waste. I live in Missouri for legal and climate considerations. It can be very hot and humid here in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. I know some use batteries while others have capacitors.

My big questions are.

  1. What non-technical implications such as legal considerations should I consider?
  2. I know there are review sites but does anyone have a suggestion based on experience for an inexpensive model as well as a higher-end one?

I had a beat up van pull out in front of me the other day. I had to practically lock of the brakes to avoid hitting it. I then changed lanes to the left lane to pass it as it was going very slow. Then it changed without signaling, cutting me off so I had to hit the brakes again. Then it got up to a decent speed but them SLAMMED on its own brakes in the left lane, came to a complete stop, and then made a right turn across the right lane of traffic into a parking lot without looking or signaling. The right lane had to slam on the brakes too this time. It would be nice to have video record of this kind of driving and just take it to the cops on a CD or flash drive.

On the other hand, someone told me to destroy the memory card if I were to ever get into an accident where I was at fault while using one of these.

I think you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. If you have a dash cam then you can expect any video shot before and during an accident to be subpoenaed by one or more attorneys. If you are at fault you are in big trouble. If you destroy the memory card to try to avoid culpability you will face bigger charges. On the other hand, if you have done nothing wrong, a dash cam is certainly helpful to corroborate your version of events leading up to an accident.

I have a Dash-Cam APP on my Iphone. It works great.

My guess is that you’re probably free to record almost anywhere in public, but there might be some exceptions such as driving through border crossings and other similar areas. If you ever drive onto government property, recording could easily be prohibited there. Private property could have rules about recording as well, although this is probably not too common. If you drive into other countries, you’ll want to check their laws.

Will this camera be more or less permanent or will it be portable? For situations where recording is prohibited, I’m wondering if just turning it off is enough.

All the cameras I was considering sit on the dash or suction cup to the lower windshield. They would easily be removable so could be put in the trunk, under the seat, and such too or left at home if that was required. No, this won’t be used in other countries but possible multiple different states. Entering a military installation is possible where I live.

Using it to prove fault is a double edged sword , as a third party observer can interpret the scenario completely differently . They usually DON’T let you hover over their shoulder adding your opinion on each of your moves, they’ll make their own assesment of YOUR actions as well as the other diver.

Kind of like the part Progressive insurance does NOT say in their ads for their SnapShot tracker.
They advertise…’’ See what your good driving can save you.’’…
.what the DON’T say ?..
see what your bad driving can cost you !.

I doubt that it is illegal. I heard this morning on the radio that filming in public is not against the law, and no law enforcement official will stop you. The context of that news report was pretty compelling.

filming in public is not against the law, and no law enforcement official has any legal right to stop you.

Fixed it for ya…expect to receive an illegal order to stop filming LEOs, if you choose to film one in action.

Yes, I have heard much the same. It may be legal to film but some cops don’t take kindly to it.

@jtsanders :

Journalist here.

I'm doubt that it is illegal. I heard this morning on the radio that filming in public is not against the law,

100% correct.

and no law enforcement official will stop you.


No law enforcement official should stop you, but there have been dozens… Hell, probably hundreds now, of cases where cops have ordered people to stop filming, and arrested them when they declined to comply. Most if not all of those cases were later dismissed or ruled in favor of the defendant, and in some of those cases the defendant then sued and won, because in telling you to stop recording the cop is actively violating your first amendment rights.

So, it’s legal, but cops don’t always know that. Or care.

You see a lot of dash cam videos from Russia, the folks over there are such terrible drivers that many people use dash cams just for the reason the OP wants, to protect themselves when someone at fault tries to turn the tables.

I have heard someone comment about driving in Russia, “drive without your pants on but don’t ever drive without a dash cam”.

“So, it’s legal, but cops don’t always know that. Or care.”

When taking my ham license classes some years ago, we were told by the instructor, a longtime ham that under no circumstances, should we ever allow ourselves to get spotted by law enforcement folks in Michigan with our mobile units mounted in our cars. State laws grant Hams exemptions from the laws against scanners in your car. He told us that Michigan law enforcement, especially in the Detroit area, don’t care. They will still write you a citation for having an illegal scanner in your car, take it out and smash it, and let the courts sort it all out. He said just take it out and put it in the trunk when you go through michigan, and rely on your hand held.

The context of the report was that Mohammed Atta, of World Trade Center disaster fame, was taking video of the security area at Bradley International Airport. A few people complained to the authorities on hand and were told that it was no illegal and they could do nothing to stop him. I guess he used the footage successfully.

Just remember, what you can use can be used against you.

Seems to me, you could run the camera…if the physical evidence exonerates you, keep it; if it doesn’t, dispose of it. I’m aware it would be illegal to destroy this evidence after a supoena was recieved; wouldn’t it be a-ok to get rid of it in advance of one?

Then, just tell 'em, “Gee, the camera malfunctioned. I had it turned off. No record exists.” Awful hard of them to prove otherwise!

I thought about getting one just so I could prove to others the bone-headed crap I see on a daily basis. Then I found there is not a big enough memory card to hold it all.

If President Nixon got away with erasing an 18.5 minute conversation with Haldeman, you can rest assured that you can erase anything you want until there is a formal request for it.

If you aren’t using secure delete, then a forensic data recovery can be done.

You don’t delete, you destroy and dispose. Then place a new camera on the dash.
Ask the crook Lois Lerner for further instructions.