Is My Dash Cam Footage Admissible in Court?
As camera technology gets smaller and less expensive, many car and truck owners are outfitting their vehicles with dashboard cameras, also known as dash cams. Cyclists and motorcyclists sometimes use similar cameras on their helmets. Often these cameras are just for recording the ride and scenery, but they also serve another purpose – recording footage leading up to an accident. However, is footage from a dash cam admissible in court? And, if it is, should you use it?
What is a dashboard camera?
Ridester explains how dash cams work:
A dash cam, or dashboard camera, is a small camera connected to your car and mounted on the dashboard, rear-view mirror, or windshield. It will record the view in front of your vehicle as you drive and save the video on an SD card or the cloud that you can later review.
Connect the camera to your car’s cigarette lighter, or have it professionally installed and wired to your vehicle. The camera will automatically turn on and start recording when you start the vehicle. Some dashboard cameras can record the inside of your vehicle as you’re driving too, which can offer you some security if you give other passengers rides.
Some dashboard cameras also record audio, and some can even track time, location, and speed. There are a wide variety of dash cams and helmet cams available on the market.
What are the pros and cons of having a dash cam?
There are multiple advantages that come with having a dash cam.
- Insurance. Although your dash cam likely won’t save you money directly on your premiums, the footage may more easily show you were not at fault in the car accident that caused you injury.
- Evidence. In addition to insurance matters mentioned above, dash cams can also provide valuable evidence for hit-and-run accidents, police brutality and other assaults, or challenging traffic violations.
- Safer driving. Whether it is you or your teen driver, knowing there is a dash cam can have a positive effect on your driving. You can review your driving skills at your convenience and become a safer driver – which can help cut down on your auto insurance premiums.
- Help after an accident. Dash cams with GPS and other functionality can help if you are involved in a serious accident, helping emergency services find your location.
However, these advantages do come with disadvantages as well.
- Theft. Obvious cameras can make your vehicle a target for break-ins and theft. When shopping for a dashboard camera, look for something small and discreet.
- Evidence. You might be 100 percent sure the other driver was at fault, but your dashcam may show otherwise. Proceed with caution.
- Maintenance. Dash cams are not “set it and forget it.” They require installation and maintenance like any other electronic device. Ensure it always has power and is recording.
- Front-facing. Most dashboard cameras face front only, which means if you are hit by a car from behind, the camera will not capture the accident. However, you can find dash cams offering both front and rear views.
- Distraction. Dash cams must be installed correctly and out of the driver’s line of vision, or he or she is at risk of driving while distracted. Drivers should never look at footage while their car is moving.
If you or a registered car owner in your household do make the decision to purchase a dashboard camera, ensure you follow local and state laws.
Does Arizona have dash cam laws?
There are no federal regulations outlawing dashboard cameras; however states do have individual laws regarding how you can use them, what kind you can use, and where you can mount them in your vehicle.
Here in Arizona, although you are permitted to mount something on your windshield (like a dashcam), you must follow certain rules under state law. Generally it is safer to mount your dash cam on the dashboard, but as long it does not obstruct your view you can put it anywhere. Remember, however, if an improperly-placed dash cam results in a blind spot that causes an accident, the driver can be held liable.
Can dash cam footage be used in court?
Nearly always. If a dashboard camera records a car or truck accident, a Phoenix attorney can use that footage in court if it is relevant and applicable to the case. This footage can be crucial to the outcome of a personal injury claim, as it can often show who was at fault for the accident, whether a driver ran a red light, was driving erratically, or other reckless behaviors.
If you or a loved one were injured in a motor vehicle accident and have relevant dashboard camera footage, talk to an experienced Phoenix attorney first. Our legal team can provide guidance on whether your video is appropriate to submit as evidence. We understand that it may contain footage showing the driver was at fault, but we can also determine whether there is other footage that could potentially harm your case.
Do not delete any footage – it is likely the other driver is aware of your dash cam and their insurance company will subpoena you for the video. You have a duty to preserve that evidence, whether it helps your claim or hurts it. This is why you need strong legal representation on your side.
The injury attorneys at Plattner Verderame, PC want to help if you or a loved one were injured in a traffic accident in the Phoenix area. We understand how to determine the extent of your injuries and the value of your case, and work to secure fair and proper compensation on your behalf.
We handle these cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you do not need to worry about upfront costs. You owe us nothing unless we obtain a verdict or settlement on your behalf. Call our office at 602-266-2002 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We serve clients in Phoenix and Tempe.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
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