Dash cams are becoming more common in motor vehicles throughout the country. Some motorists treat them as a hobby item, hoping to record something worthy of sharing on YouTube later (a practice of questionable legality), while others see them as an investment in their future safety, meaning that the footage will support their side of the story if an accident ever occurs.

Dashboard-mounted cameras, or dash cams for short, are video devices that record while you drive. All footage is recorded onto an SD card in a continuously looping process. Some devices only capture video, while others include sound and even have night vision capability.

If you are ever in a collision on a New York road or highway, then many insurance companies accept dash cam footage as evidence that you were not at fault, which can save you a lot of hassle if your claim is ever disputed. The only catch is that dash cams may be considered electrical surveillance devices because they record video and potentially audio, so you need to know what you can and cannot do if you want to install one in your vehicle.

The law and dash cams

There are no federal laws prohibiting dash cam recording, and they are legal to use in New York provided that you pay attention to certain conditions. Capturing video is legal, provided the device is focused on the road ahead and not a specific driver or pedestrian. When you record in public areas, you’re not breaking any privacy laws. Some states prohibit audio taping as a violation of wiretapping laws, but NYPL 250 confirms that in New York, you may legally record conversations that you are taking part in.

State law does, however, prevent you from placing anything on your windshield that could obstruct your clear view of the road. You can technically be cited for hanging an air freshener from your interior rearview mirror, so avoid cameras that must be installed there, and never affix them to the windshield. Your safest bet is to place one in the corner on the front passenger side while ensuring that it does not obstruct the car’s airbags or your ability to see the exterior rearview mirrors.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and have dash cam footage of the event, then your New York personal injury attorney will let you know whether it can or can’t be used given the content and circumstances of the recording. If the video is helpful to your case, then it’s a good idea to use it, as video evidence is hard to refute and can even assist you in getting full and fair compensation a lot sooner.

Jayson Lutzky is an attorney handling car crash accident cases. He has helped recover millions of dollars for his past clients to cover medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash, whether or not you had a dash cam, call 718-514-6619 to set up your free in-person initial consultation. Visit Mynewyorkcitylawyer.com/Accidents to learn more.