Why I avoid valet parking situations

Well, two problems with that line of thinking. First, your home security camera doesn’t differentiate between a trespasser and a guest. It just sees motion, and starts recording. And if you record the audio of a guest, you are technically in violation of the law in many states (not that this is likely to get you in trouble provided you don’t publish it, since no one but you will know that the recording exists).

The second is that not all states have laws on the books which carve out exceptions for recording burglars talking. California, for instance, has a carve-out of its consent rules which say you can record audio without consent if it will be used to prove kidnapping, extortion, bribery, or a violent felony. Burglary doesn’t fall under any of those categories and so as things currently stand, recording audio of your burglars talking is still illegal.

While it would be reasonable for a judge to immediately strike down the portion of the law that makes recording audio of crimes in your own house illegal should you ever find yourself in court over it, it’s important to remember that judges don’t always do the reasonable thing.

And the flip side of that is the “clean hands” doctrine, which basically says if someone is pressing charges against you for recording them illegally, and the recording is an issue because you recorded them committing a crime, they don’t have “clean hands” in the matter and since you were acting in good faith (you’re recording to try and prevent crime) and they were acting in bad faith (they were trying to increase crime), that can sometimes be a valid defense - but if it doesn’t work, you might still be in trouble.

Having grown up with a dad who was a lawyer, one thing he used to say all the time was that the justice system isn’t always just, or fair, or logical, which means that even if you are 100% in the right, you can still sometimes find yourself in trouble if the law can at all possibly be interpreted against you.

That’s why my security cameras don’t record audio, and if I had a dash cam I’d disable the audio.

Actually I’d disable the audio anyway because nobody wants to hear me singing along to the radio. :wink:

Mine does…because my home security system is only active when we’re no there. NH is one of the states that requires both parties to consent. If you read the article in the link I provided it specifically addressed the difference between guests and burglars.

I did read the link you provided, but it didn’t point out that, while you probably will not be in trouble for capturing audio recordings of burglars, in many states such a case has not made it to court yet, and their laws do not carve out exceptions to wiretap laws for such activities.

In other words, do it at your own risk unless it’s a settled matter where you live.

As an example from my former career, it’s absolutely legal for a person to record video and audio of anything happening in public, say, on a street. But many people found themselves arrested when recording video and audio of cops in public, because the cops were doing things they weren’t supposed to be doing and so they arrested the guy with the camera to try and cover it up.

Even though it had been long-settled by courts that people were allowed to record cops in public, cops arrested dozens of them, and those people had to defend themselves against felony charges, which cost money and time. And then courts have in some cases ignored established law and caselaw. Michael Hyde was arrested for violating the MA electronic surveillance law for recording his encounter with a cop during a traffic stop for what should have been a fix-it ticket, even though that encounter was in public and the cop had no reasonable expectation of privacy. He was convicted, and then on appeal the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction 4-2.

That goes to show that even when the law is on your side, the judge might not be, and you might still be in trouble for doing it.


I use valet parking all the time when I drive to NYC, Baltimore, and Washington DC. I have never had an issue. I also don’t own a Corvette or any super fancy or sporty vehicle. I slip the valet a couple of bucks when I hand over the car and they treat my (and my car) like gold. They get a few more bucks when my ride is safely returned to me. It’s not rocket science folks.

I can’t really speak to situations in DC or in Baltimore, but in NYC there really are essentially no options other than using valet parking in a privately-run garage, and that can easily run into $35-40 for just a few hours of parking. That is just one of the reasons why I no longer drive into NYC.

I can park my car in a secure facility in Jersey City for ~$14, and take public transit into the city, thus saving a lot of money, a lot of hassle, a lot of time, a lot of gasoline, and also avoiding valet parking.


Actually I recall something about that. If I remember correctly the courts deemed it illegal to record video without the person knowing AND being clearly notified that they were being recorded. I don’t recall anything else about it, if anyone got in trouble for recording valets or not but I remember that being “a thing”.

If that’s the case, then all the security cameras in store parking lots are illegal. You essentially can’t go anywhere today without being recorded by a security camera, although the vast majority of the footage will never actually be watched by anyone, unless there is an incident.

It’s long been held that the right to record pictures/video in public is an integral part of the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. You can’t publish a picture if you aren’t allowed to take it, after all…

Unless the video is newsworthy, you can not publish or air it without the recorded person’s consent. That’s why you see faces blurred out in cop reality shows.
I was asked by a newspaper photographer to sign a model release because he photographed me sailing my Hobie Catamaran on the lake with one hull way up in the air. He didn’t use the picture however.

Has it also been decided there is no right to privacy in public places?

IIRC, the verbiage in court decisions over the years has been something to the effect of…
There is no expectation of privacy in public places

Hence, the proliferation of security cameras… everywhere…

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He didn’t need to ask you that. As a former news photog myself, I can take pictures of you all I want in public, and I can publish them. What I cannot do is make non-journalistic money off of it. So, for instance, if I took a picture of you on your boat, and I made a calendar that used the picture and then sold the calendars, I’d need your permission. But to put you in the paper or on TV? Fair game. I did it for more than 2 decades and never once got a model release.

BTW, “newsworthy” is something that I and my news director determine, not the government. So the government can’t tell me that I can’t use your picture just because it isn’t newsworthy, because then the government would be in the position of determining what is and is not news, and that would be censorship and a violation of the 1st.

Yes. You’re in public. People can see you. You have no privacy, and you know you have no privacy, and so you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

This is also, btw, where the video/audio distinction comes with dash cams. I have no reasonable expectation of visual privacy in my car because it has windows and people can see into them. However, they can’t hear what I’m saying unless they get in the car, and so I have an auditory expectation of privacy that what I say won’t be heard by people I don’t intend to hear it.

That concept also extends to the “plain view” searches from cops. If you have a crack pipe on the dashboard that’s visible through the window and the cop can see it without a warrant, then he can nab you for it. If you stick it in the glovebox, and the cop can’t see it, then he needs your permission or a warrant to go looking for it.


BLE, this isn’t about what should be right or shouldn’t be. An owner of a supercar should be able to film someone else driving it other than themselves and be completely legal but parking lot cams are a little different. You know they are there, you may not know where but you know they are there. Cameras are everywhere.

I can see the calendar now: The Men of Car Talk Community Forum.


[quote=“shadowfax, post:24, topic:111665”]
but it didn’t point out that[/quote]
Yes it did. Taken directly from article.

"Let’s say you invite some friends over, and one of those friends is Lady Gaga. Now you have video of Lady Gaga sitting in your kitchen, playing with your cat, swimming in your pool. That video is worth something, right? You could sell it to a gossip magazine. Well, no, you can’t. In this case, what you do with the footage matters. First, you never received consent for the recording (hello, wiretapping law), and second, you can’t use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent. "

Which is all I said…so why keep arguing.

I was on business in CA recently and saw they have a debate going on regarding a rash of car thefts. Seems the law there is that you cannot prosecute someone for theft if they take it from your unlocked car. You actually have to PROVE it was locked even if they break a window to gain access. Amazing this is even a debate to me. You take something not yours, that’s theft. I don’t care if it’s sitting on top of my car…


Because in the legal field, “probably” doesn’t mean “you’ll be fine,” it means “you might be fine but there is a non-zero chance that some jackwagon judge or overeager prosecutor will decide to be a jerk with you.” It’s about assessing risk. It would be irresponsible of us to say “you can absolutely record video and audio of burglars or people joyriding in your car and nothing bad will happen to you, guaranteed.”

As an example, back in my news days I was once charged with trespassing for being on the public sidewalk on a public street outside of a business that people were protesting, because the owner of the business was unhappy that I was putting his business on TV. I couldn’t get the charges dismissed despite the fact that it was public property and I clearly had a right to be there because the business owner had pull with the city.

It came down to half an hour before the trial was to start before the prosecution blinked and realized I was probably going to win and then go after them for prosecutorial misconduct, so I ended up winning. But not before my station had paid a lot of money in legal bills so that I could have a defense attorney - bills that I could not at that time have afforded by myself, and neither could many of our readers here.

Even if you’re 100% within the law you can still sometimes find yourself charged, and when that happens it’s going to cost you time and money to defend yourself. Considering wiretapping is often a felony-level charge, it will be especially expensive and, unlike my case, the defendant may well sit in jail while he waits for his trial.

So yes, you probably but not definitely will not get in trouble for it, but you need to be aware that even though you’re doing nothing wrong, you could still face problems for doing it, and you need to be thinking about that when making decisions on whether or not to record audio.

If you say so. But everything I’ve read and provided links to say you CAN…PERIOD. You think otherwise…GREAT.

It seems there’s more consideration for the criminals, versus law-abiding folks :frowning_face:

A few years ago, our supervisor had that EXACT discussion with us

It seems that some employees with “questionable” character were taking things that didn’t belong to them (supplies, complete brand new exhaust systems, stuff in our fleet vehicles, basically anything not nailed down) and they claimed nobody had told them it wasn’t okay to take stuff . . .

The supervisor SAID that, but he didn’t ever follow through, because he “didn’t want to make waves.”

One time he blatantly saw a guy filling up gallon jugs with fresh 5w30 oil, clearly about to head over to his personal vehicle. He looked him in the eye and said “Don’t take that home” and then he proceeded to walk to his office and close the door

The employee blatantly took the oil and put it in the trunk of his car, and nothing ever happened to him.

Another guy stole stuff from the warehouse and was selling it on ebay. Somebody from work saw the listing and was suspicious. They contacted the seller and arranged to talk to them on the phone. They recognized the phone number AND the voice. The dope even gave his real name. Yet nothing happened to that guy, either.

Yet somebody else literally got caught red-handed and actually was terminated. They retained a lawyer, who succeeded in winning on appeal and getting the guy reinstated . . . supposedly, the theft wasn’t of sufficient monetary value to warrant termination :thinking:

“I can see the calendar now: The Men of Car Talk Community Forum…”

Ooo, ooo…shirtless??? Not a pretty sight…