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Dash cam laws by state

Navigate different dash cam laws across state lines. Stay informed about in-car video and audio recording regulations wherever you drive in the USA. Here is a state-by-state summary of dash cam laws and potential violations in the USA.

Dash cam laws by state

Navigate dash cam laws across state lines throughout the USA and avoid potential violations.

In a recent blog we explored the legality of using dash cams in the UK and how laws about dash cam use vary in countries around Europe. In this article, we look at the state-by-state variations about dash cam use in the USA.

The first matter to establish is that ‘Yes’, dash cams are legal to install and use in every state in the USA.

However, to be sure that you are operating your dash cam in accordance with prevailing laws and guidelines, you will need to know how they vary from state to state

What differences are there in state dash cam laws?

The most significant state-on-state dash cam law variations involve:

  • The positioning of your dash cam

  • The size of your dash cam

  • Dashcam materials

  • Dash cam audio recording

Problems can arise when you undertake a long drive and travel from one state to another where vehicle laws may be different. The problem is exacerbated for fleet and haulage operators whose vehicles cross state lines regularly.

As it would be a long and involved process to research dash cam regulations in each state, here is a summary of state vehicle laws as they relate to dash cams.

An alphabetical list of dash cam laws by state

Alabama

In Alabama, it is illegal to attach anything to the windshield of a vehicle, which makes suction cup dash cams illegal to install. The proscription of windscreen attachments is to prevent any obstruction of the driver’s view. Installing a dash cam on the dashboard is legal, so long as it does not obstruct the driver’s view. 

Alaska

Alaska’s statute states that dash cams are legal if they do not obstruct the driver’s view. In addition, a dash cam must not be bigger than five inches (height x depth) if it is mounted on the driver’s side. 

Arizona

Arizona’s dash cam regulations are highly specific and relate to windscreens, side widows and rear windows. Arizona’s regulations are concerned with preventing anything that obstructs or reduces a driver’s clear through any window. Therefore, in Arizona dash cams have to be smaller than a five-inch square if installed on the driver’s side and smaller than a seven-inch square if installed on the passenger side. 

Arkansas

Dash cams are legal in Arkansas if they are installed behind the rearview mirror and do not obstruct the driver’s view. 

California

California law exempts dash cams from the law stating that nothing can hang on the windshield. California law stipulates that dash cams “may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver, in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver or in a five-inch square mounted to the centre uppermost portion of the interior of the windshield.”

Colorado

Colorado prohibits obstructing the driver’s view. Dash cam cams should be installed behind the rearview mirror or on the dashboard. The state further specifies that dash cams should not be reflective (mirrored or metallic) as they could potentially dazzle a driver. 

Connecticut

To comply with dash cam regulations in Connecticut, it is best to mount dash cams discretely on the dashboard, as Connecticut prohibits placing non-transparent materials on the windshield. 

Delaware

Delaware prohibits applying non-transparent material to the windshield, side wings or side or rear window, so dash cams should be mounted on the dashboard.

District of Columbia (D.C.)

It is illegal to mount a dash cam on the windshield in Washington, D.C. Dash cams should be mounted on the dashboard. If audio recording is used in the car, all passengers must give their permission to record. It is advisable to display a sign or sticker informing passengers that the dash cam records audio. 

Florida

In Florida, dash cams are legal so long as they do not obstruct the driver’s view.

Georgia

In Georgia, it is best to install a dash cam on the dashboard to conform with Georgia’s prohibition of non-transparent materials on the windshield. Drivers are only allowed to record video and audio with the permission of everyone in the vehicle.

Hawaii

In Hawaii, a dash cam can be five to seven inches square, as long as it is installed in the top or bottom corners of the windshield. Drivers have options to install a dash cam on the dashboard or on the vehicle’s rear window. 

Idaho

In Idaho, dash cams must be installed on the dashboard. 

Illinois

In Illinois, drivers can install a dash cam on the windshield if it does not obstruct the driver’s view. If installed on the driver’s side, the dash cam must be smaller than five-inches square. 

Indiana

In Indiana, dash cams can be installed on the dashboard or windshield. The camera must be four-inches square and installed in the bottom corner on the passenger side. 

Iowa

Dash cams are legal in Iowa as long as the driver can see clearly.

Kansas

Dash cams can be installed on the dashboard or windscreen in Kansas as long as the dash cam does not obstruct the driver’s view. 

Kentucky

Dash cams are legal in Kentucky as long as the driver can see clearly.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, dash cams should be placed on the dashboard to avoid falling foul of windscreen obstruction regulations. 

Maine

Dash cams can be installed on the windshield or dashboard in Maine as long as they do not interfere with the driver’s vision.

Maryland

Maryland specifies precisely where dash cams can be placed. Drivers can place dash cams higher than five inches below the top of the windshield or within a seven-inch square in the bottom corner of the windshield.  

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts drivers should place dash cams on the dashboard to avoid laws relating to non-transparent materials on the windshield and reflective materials in side windows.

Michigan

In Michigan, dash cams should be placed on the dashboard. There are windscreen exceptions for some vehicles, including large trucks (5 US tons), truck tractors, buses and hazardous waste vehicles.  

Minnesota

In Minnesota, dashboard cameras should be installed behind, or slightly above or below the rearview mirror. 

Mississippi

In Mississippi, Drivers should mount dash cams on the dashboard to avoid falling foul of windscreen regulations that do not specifically relate to dash cams. 

Missouri

Missouri is one of the few states whose laws do not mention obstructions to the driver’s view. Dash cams are legal to install in a position of the driver’s choice. To avoid obstructing the driver’s view, it is recommended that cameras are installed behind the rearview mirror or on the bottom or top of the windshield. 

Montana

In Montana, dash cams should be installed on dashboards to avoid breaking windshield obstruction laws. 

Nebraska

In Nebraska, dash cams should be installed on dashboards and drivers must obtain permission from passengers before making audio recordings. 

Nevada

In Nevada, drivers can install dash cams anywhere on the dashboard, but, if placed on the windshield, dash cams must be smaller than six-inches square and placed in the lower corner of the windshield furthest from the driver.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, drivers are allowed to install dash cams on the dashboard and use a rear camera.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, install a dash cam on the dashboard on the passenger’s side to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations. 

New Mexico

In New Jersey, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential driver’s view violations 

New York

Dashcams are encouraged in New York as they act as an impartial witness to help resolve traffic accidents and disputes. Dash cams should be installed on the dashboard and not on the windshield. 

North Carolina

There is no mention of dashboard cameras or windshield obstruction in North Carolina’s motor vehicle laws. Dashboard mounted cameras are the least likely to impair the driver’s vision. 

North Dakota

In North Dakota, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations.  

Ohio

In Ohio, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations, and use it to record video and audio. 

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations. 

Oregon

In Oregon, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations, and use it to record video and audio.  

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen or other window obstruction violations. 

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, install a dash cam on the dashboard as state law prohibits applying dash cams to the windscreen or any other vehicle windows.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, install a dash cam on the dashboard as state law prohibits applying dash cams to the windscreen or any other vehicle windows. It is legal to record video while driving and record audio of passengers with their permission or by giving notice.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations.

Texas

In Texas, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen or other vehicle window obstruction violations.

Utah

In Utah, drivers can mount dashboard cameras on the windshield as long as the dash cam is towards the top of the windshield and does not extend down more than four inches, or is in the lower left corner and does not extend out more than four inches. It is also legal for drivers to install cameras on rear windows of the vehicle. 

Vermont

Vermont law allows drivers to place dash cams in the lower right-hand windshield area as long as the device is less than four inches in height and 12 inches wide. If mounted in the upper left-hand corner of the windshield, the dash cam can be two inches high and two-and-a-half inches wide. 

Virginia

Virginia dash cam laws prohibit a driver from placing a device on the windshield, but permits dash cams placed on the dashboard.

Washington

In Washington, dash cams can be mounted on the dashboard to record audio and video while driving or parked, but they cannot be mounted on the windshield owing to driver’s view obstruction regulations. 

West Virginia

In West Virginia, install a dash cam on the dashboard to avoid potential windscreen obstruction violations. 

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, drivers cannot mount a dash camera on the windshield unless it is mounted behind the rearview mirror. However, the law is ambiguous as mounting is prohibited within the normal sweep of the car’s windshield wipers. Mounting the dash cam to the dashboard is the best way to ensure compliance with Wisconsin laws.

Wyoming

Wyoming allows dash cams to be mounted on the dashboard but not on the front windshield.

Dash cams: surveillance, audio and privacy considerations

In some states, the use of dash cams could be considered to be the use of electronic surveillance devices, and you may risk violating local laws.

Under federal law, covert audio recordings using a dashcam without the consent of all parties may be illegal.

It is essential that you inform passengers that they are being recorded on video or audio when they get into your car, in order to stay within the law.

It is legal in most states to use a dash cam as a phone, as long as it does not obstruct the driver’s view. However, it is illegal in most cases to operate the phone while driving as it would be a violation of laws against distracted driving.

Can the police use your dash cam footage?

If dash cam footage contains evidence of a crime, traffic violation, or liability in an accident, the police can commandeer your footage to use for or against you, or for or against a third party.

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