Dash cams are devices that you can attach to your dash, windshield or another place in your car. They provide video evidence of what happens while driving, and police and insurance companies may find your video meaningful when a car accident occurs. This has led many people to ask the question “are dash cams legal?” Generally, dashcams are legal. But there are some things dash cam owners should know before installing a dash cam.
There are no federal laws governing dash cams, as regulation is left to the states. Some states have specific laws that address dash cams, while others do not. If you are in a state with specific dash cam laws, it is essential to know what they are before installing a dash cam in your car. In some cases, dash cams may be considered a distraction. If you are in state where the law doesn’t mention dashcams specifically, check if they fall under your state’s distracted driving laws (if there are any).
More on Dash Cams
Dash Cam Dos and Don’ts
Following the below guidelines will keep you out of trouble with local law enforcement just about everywhere when using your dash cam.
- Mount the camera in a place where it doesn’t obstruct your view in any way. Installation behind the rearview mirror or on the dashboard itself is best.
- Inform passengers that your dash cam records video (and audio, if necessary).
- Comply with all local electronic surveillance laws. Dash cams are considered surveillance devices.
- Record video on private property.
- Mount dash cams in a way that doesn’t securely hold the device to the mounting surface. It can become a projectile in a car accident if it isn’t mounted correctly.
- Leave the dash cam’s video screen on while driving. Some states have laws against using video screens while the car is in motion.
For more specific dash cam information, keep reading.
Are Dash Cams Legal? Laws By State
As a general rule, as long as the dash cam doesn’t obstruct the driver’s vision, you shouldn’t have any issues. However, some states have specific regulations, which we’ve listed below. States in red are where dash cam use appears illegal due to state law.
Most states prohibit mounting a dashcam on the windshield, but most permit dashboard mounting. Contact local law enforcement for more information about your state’s dashcam laws.
Drivers in Alabama can not place dash cams on the windshield because it obstructs the driver’s view. Drivers may mount the dash cam to the dashboard, however.
Alaska Statute 13.04.225 makes dash cam use legal as long as the driver’s view isn’t obstructed and smaller than 5 inches on one side when mounted on the driver’s side and 7 inches on the passenger side.
Arizona’s dash cam law is similar to Alaska’s, with a size limit of 5 “x5” when mounted on the driver’s side and 7 “x7” on the passenger side.
Arkansas law states dash cams are legal as long as the dash cam is placed behind the mirror.
California law permits dashboard cameras and exempts them from laws against anything blocking the windshield. However, it states the dashboard camera should be placed in the lower portion of the windshield, with a size limit of 5 “x5” when mounted on the driver’s side and 7 “x7” on the passenger side.
Dash cams are legal in Colorado as long as they are placed behind the rearview mirror and don’t have mirrored or reflective surfaces.
Connecticut prohibits obstructing the windshield in any way. This includes dash cameras. Use caution when using a dash cam within the state.
Delaware law states that “no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway with any sign, poster or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield, side wings or side or rear window of such motor vehicle.” Mount your dash cam to the dashboard instead.
District of Columbia
Dash cams are legal in DC if they’re not windshield mounted. DC also requires passenger consent if you use your dash cam’s audio recording functionality.
Florida has no specific laws against dash cam use, however, it does discourage windshield obstructions, including dash cams.
In Georgia, dashboard cameras are perfectly legal, however, mounting on the windshield is prohibited. Drivers are permitted to record both audio and video.
Hawaii law allows dashcams up to 5 “x5” in size to be placed on the corners of the windshield, or in other non-obstructive locations.
Idaho drivers must place their dash cams on the dashboard surface as they are considered a “non-transparent material” and can’t be placed on the windshield by law.
Drivers can install dash cams as long as they don’t obstruct the driver’s view, and are no larger than 5″, and are placed on the left side of the car dashboard.
Dash cams in Indiana can be no larger than 4″, and must be placed on the bottom passenger side of the windshield.
Iowa doesn’t have any specific laws on dash cams. However, the law states “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle equipped with a windshield, side wings, or side or rear windows which do not permit clear vision.”
Dash cams in Kansas are legal as long as they don’t obstruct the driver’s view.
Kentucky doesn’t have specific laws on dash cam size or placement, so it should be legal as long as it doesn’t impede the driver’s view of the road.
Louisana laws state that “no person may operate a motor vehicle with any object or material that obstructs or reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield.” Mount the dash cam to the dashboard.
Maine explicitly permits the mounting of dash cams on both windshields and dashboards as long as the driver’s view is not obstructed.
Maryland law is quite specific on the placement of dash cams. Drivers must place dash cams above the “AS-1 line,” which is a line marked on most windshields (look on sides near the pillars), about five inches down. You may also place the dashcam in a 7 “x7” square on the bottom corner of the windshield.
Dash cams are prohibited from being placed on the windshield, however, they may be attached to the dashboard. Side dash cameras are also permitted as long as they aren’t made of reflective material.
Michigan drivers may not place dash cams on their windshields unless the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials or is a truck weighing over 10,000 pounds. Dashboard mounting should be okay, however.
Dash cams are legal if placed behind, slightly above, or slightly below the rearview mirror.
Dash cams should be placed on the dashboard to comply with Mississippi’s distracted driver laws.
Missouri has no laws regarding obstructions of view or any dash cam-specific laws.
Montana drivers must have a clear view through their windshield by law. Place your dash cam on the dashboard.
Windshield-mounted dash cams are prohibited, but dash cams themselves are legal. Mount the dash cam to the dashboard, and by law, you must obtain consent when recording audio.
Dash cams in Nevada may place a dash cam anywhere on the dashboard but are prohibited from mounting it anywhere on the windshield except the bottom corner of the passenger side.
Front windshield dash cams are prohibited in New Hampshire. However, they may be mounted on the rear glass or the dashboard.
New Jersey laws prohibit non-transparent objects on the front windshield and driver or passenger side windows. Install your dashcam on the dashboard.
New Mexico’s dash cam law states that “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any…non-transparent material upon or in the front windshield, windows to the immediate right and left of the driver.” A dashboard-mounted dash cam is acceptable.
New York bill A5132 makes drivers eligible for a 5% premium discount if they have an operating dashcam, although it may not be mounted on the windshield.
There are no specific dash cam placement regulations in North Carolina. Use your best judgment in placing your dashcam.
North Dakota law prohibits drivers from installing dash cams on their windshields. Install your dash cam on your dashboard.
It is legal to record audio and video inside your car in Ohio, however, drivers cannot install a dash cam on their car’s windshield.
Windshield-mounted dash cams are prohibited in Oklahoma, but are permitted on the dashboard as long as they don’t obstruct the driver’s view.
According to Oregon law, dash cams are illegal on any windows inside your car and can only be placed on the dashboard.
Pennsylvania motor vehicle law requires that drivers must have an unobstructed view through their windshield. We recommend installing the camera on your dashboard.
A dashboard camera is legal in Rhode Island as long as it doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view.
South Carolina law only allows drivers to install dashcams on their dashboard. Window-mounted dash cams are prohibited.
Dash cams are prohibited from being installed on the front windshield or side windows. South Dakota law does permit dashboard-mounted cameras. Drivers must get permission from occupants inside the video to record audio and video.
Tennesee motor vehicle laws prohibit any windshield obstruction. Only dashboard-mounted dash cams are permitted.
Texas allows dash cams. However, it prohibits dash cams or any other object from being mounted to the vehicle’s windshield.
Utah drivers may mount dashcams on the windshield as long as it doesn’t extend down more than four inches from the top of the dashboard or extend out more than four inches towards the driver.
Vermont drivers may mount dashboard cameras in the upper driver’s side corner of the windshield if they are no larger than 2 “x2.5”. However, those wishing to install larger cameras may place the dash cam in the lower corner of the passenger side up to four inches tall and a foot long!
Virginia drivers may install dashcams on the dashboard as long as it doesn’t obstruct the driver’s vision.
Drivers in Washington are permitted to install a dash cam anywhere in their vehicle, but not the windshield.
West Virginia drivers should install dash cams on the dashboard as the law prohibits “non-transparent materials” on a vehicle windshield. Install cameras out of the driver’s line of sight.
Wisconsin places tighter restrictions on where drivers may install cameras in their vehicles than many states. The dash camera must be placed behind the rearview mirror and cannot block the area cleaned by the windshield wipers.
Wyoming laws don’t mention dashboard cameras, but the state does have laws on windshield obstructions.
Dash Cams Are a Smart Investment
Many dash cams are meant to record evidence. Drivers may use the video footage for insurance purposes, shown to police officers during investigations, or in other legal situations where dash cam footage would come in handy. In cases like these, dash cams can save you a lot of time and money by quickly providing the truth instead of dealing with court proceedings to determine what happened before an accident.
Dash cams also have a motion sensor to start recording when there is movement in or around your car. For example, if someone hits your car and leaves the accident scene, the dash cam can record the event. Dash cams also record audio, which can sometimes be equally as crucial as the dashcam video.