Dash Cams: What You Need To Know!
In a recent decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that dash cam footage taken by state police of vehicle crashes must be released under the state’s Right-To-Know Law.
Will other state’s follow? And how does this decision effect the outcome of your claim?
Well, in a nutshell, the Right-To-Know Law is designed to allow the public access to information they may need in the general course of investigating their claim. However, that law only extends to the information pertinent and that certain information may be redacted to protect a government entity, and individual or an organization’s private information.
This is a huge win for citizens in Pennsylvania as it gives them and their legal defense teams the ability to access law enforcement vehicle dash camera footage, which could aid in resolving lawsuits faster. Plus, it provides accountability from neighborhood police to the community they serve.
Unfortunately, some states (including Indiana) do not follow in Pennsylvania’s footsteps and actually passed a law protecting the right of law enforcement agencies to withhold dash cam footage as well as body cam video.
Fortunately, as dash cams are gaining in popularity and affordability, more and more citizens are electing to install these devices into their own vehicles. By having such dashboard mounted cameras in your own personal or work vehicle you essentially bypass the “Right-To-Know” Law and don’t have to worry about video being edited or redacted. However, in the event of an accident your video footage could be subpoenaed and used as evidence for or against another person.
What Can Dash Cam Footage Reveal?
- Excessive speeding by another driver
- Distracted driving due to eating, drinking, texting, smoking, talking on the phone, etc.
- Driver fatigue – driving while tired is very dangerous
- Missing signs or malfunctioning traffic signs
- Road Rage by another driver
- Unsafe road conditions
Although, depending on where the dash cam is mounted could determine if such a device in your own vehicle is legal or illegal. So, yes, even though you bought the camera for use in your own private vehicle it could be determined to be illegal and you would get fined for trying to protect your own rights. And sadly any footage taken for the means of protecting yourself could be stricken if determined the dash cam was not properly installed in compliance with state law.
In most states, it’s illegal to mount any device on your windshield. And, we’ve had clients argue that the device came with suction cups to mount on the windshield so it should be okay to do so. Had they read the instructions, they might have seen… “check your local & state laws for compliance of device”. Bottom line…your device can not restrict the driver’s visibility.
So why do we share this information?
We share it to give you an insight into the differences that can occur between State laws and individual rights. What is law in one state may not be the law in another. And how you have a device mounted in your own vehicle could be the very reason you are receiving a fine.
If you’ve been a victim of an auto accident in the State of Indiana reach out to our professional attorneys at the Law Office of David W Holub by calling (219)736-9700 today. One of our experienced lawyers will take your call and listen attentively and let you know upfront if your case has merit.
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