Car rides can hold the most unexpected turns — anything could happen in the blink of an eye.
California has strict laws regarding people’s privacy, but do these laws apply to dash camera footage?
Here’s what California law says about what drivers can document on a dash cam and if it’s legal to post the footage online.
Can you have a dash cam in California?
Yes, you can have a dash cam mounted on your windshield as long as it follows the state law requirements.
In California, dash cams must be mounted in a seven-inch square in the corner of the windshield farthest away from the driver’s side, in a five-inch square in the corner nearest to the driver or in a five-inch square in the center uppermost portion of the windshield.
According to California Vehicle Code 26708, if drivers choose to set up a dash cam or video-event recorder, they must:
Have a notice posted that tells passengers their conversation is being recorded.
Not store more than 30 seconds before and after an event on the recorder.
Know the registered owner of the vehicle can disconnect the device.
Know the data recorded is property of the registered owner of the vehicle.
Officer Ricardo Ortiz, a spokesperson for California Highway Patrol’s Valley Division, said drivers should have the dash cam mounted correctly in their car or the driver can face penalties.
“It would be a violation of law and would make the driver of the vehicle subject to enforcement action including a citation,” Ortiz said in an email.
What can you use a dash cam for?
In case of a car crash, Ortiz said, the footage belongs to the owner of the vehicle.
“The owner is not required to show the footage automatically, but such footage could be subject to the warrant process should the footage be of significant aid in the investigation of a serious criminal act,” Ortiz said.
After a car crash, citations are issued at the discretion of the investigating officer, Ortiz said.
“Should a motorist be issued a citation as the result of a crash, they may use the video as evidence to support their legal testimony in court,” Ortiz said.
Can you upload dash cam footage online?
No law restricts what you can do with your dash cam footage, such as posting it online.
“Due to the fact there is not an expectation of privacy on public California roadways, the owner of the footage may use it as they see fit,” Ortiz said.
What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our service journalism team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email email@example.com.