A dashboard camera (dashcam) helps protect a driver in case of an accident or other legal vehicular accusation. For trucking companies, it protects the driver and fleet manager from unjust lawsuits in which a third party unfairly accuses the trucker of unsafe driving.
When a driver secures a dashcam to the windshield, it provides constant video footage of the road in front of the vehicle. If a car swerves in front of a truck, the dashcam would record the footage and provide video evidence to show to law enforcement. Essentially, the dashcam is a neutral eye witness that reports exactly what happened without any embellishment. Buying the best dashcam ensures your drivers and fleet are protected.
Each state has different rules for dashcams. Although most states agree that dashcams are legal, many require specific setups or specifications. Additionally, most states have privacy laws that make it illegal to record on private property without the express permission of the property owner and illegal to record a conversation without permission from each person speaking. In this article, you will find the specific dimensions and legal obligations for dash cameras in each of the 50 states.
Dashcam laws by state
In Alabama, it is illegal to place anything on a vehicle’s windshield, making suction dashcams illegal to install. However, placing a dashcam on the dashboard is legal as long as it does not obstruct the driver’s view.
Alaska Statute 13.04.225 states that dashcams are legal as long as they don’t obstruct the driver’s view. If mounted on the driver’s side, the dashcam must be smaller than a 5-inch square. If mounted on the passenger side, it must be smaller than a 7-inch square.
The Arizona dash cam laws state, “a person shall not operate a motor vehicle with an object or material…affixed or applied on the windshield or side or rear windows… in a manner that obstructs or reduces a driver’s clear view through the windshield or side or rear windows.” Dashcams have to be smaller than a 5-inch square if installed on the driver’s side and a 7-inch square if installed on the passenger side.
Dashboard cameras are legal in Arkansas if they are behind the rearview mirror and aren’t obstructing the driver’s view. If it obstructs the driver’s view, the dashcam is illegal.
California state law defines dashcams as video event recorders and exempts them from the law stating that nothing can hang on the windshield. The dashboard camera “may be mounted in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver, in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver, or in a 5-inch square mounted to the center uppermost portion of the interior of the windshield.”
Colorado prohibits obstructing the driver’s view, meaning that it’s perfectly legal to place a dashcam behind the rearview mirror or on the dashboard. Colorado also specifies that a dashcam can’t be mirrored or metallic, as reflective surfaces could momentarily blind the driver in the right lighting.
Connecticut prohibits placing non-transparent materials on the windshield. The law doesn’t specify dashcams, but it also doesn’t exempt dashcams from the rule. To be safe, mount a dashcam on the dashboard out of sight.
Delaware’s state law states, “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.” In Delaware, dashcams should be mounted on the dashboard.
District of Columbia
Dashboard cameras are legal in Washington, D.C., but it is illegal to mount a dashcam on the windshield. D.C.’s dashcam law states, “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield.” Drivers must have permission from all passengers to record audio in the car. To be safe, mount a dashcam on the dashboard and include a sticker or sign stating that the dashcam records audio.
Florida prohibits placing any non-transparent objects on the windshield that could potentially block the driver’s view. However, there are no laws prohibiting the use of a dashcam. In fact, dashcams aren’t mentioned in the state’s laws. As long as the dashcam isn’t an obstruction, it’s legal.
Dashboard cameras are legal in Georgia, and drivers are allowed to record video and audio (with permission of everyone in the cab). However, installing a dashcam on the windshield instead of the dashboard could be against the Georgia dashcam laws that state, “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield.”
According to Hawaii law, a dashcam can be 5 to 7 inches square and installed in the top or bottom corners of the windshield. Drivers can also install a dashcam on the dashboard or back window.
Idaho dashcam laws prohibit obstruction of the driver’s view. Because dashcams fall into the category of “non-transparent materials,” dashcams must be installed on the dashboard instead of the windshield.
Illinois vehicle laws don’t specifically mention dashcams or other recording devices. As long as the dashcam doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view, drivers can install a dashcam on the windshield. If installing a dashcam on the driver’s side, make sure that it’s smaller than a 5-inch square.
Indiana allows dashcams on the dashboard and on the windshield as long as the driver follows installation laws. When installing a dashcam in Indiana, the camera must be a 4-inch square installed in the bottom corner on the passenger side.
Iowa law doesn’t mention dashcams specifically. As long as the driver can see clearly, dashcams are legal. 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.”
Dashboard cameras are legal in Kansas. As long as the dashcam doesn’t “substantially obstruct” the driver’s vision, the driver can place the dash camera on the dashboard or windshield.
There are no laws in Kentucky that prohibit or limit a dashcam’s placement. As long as the dashcam is placed reasonably and doesn’t cover or obstruct the driver’s vision, it’s legal.
Although Louisiana law does not specifically mention dashcams, it states, “no person may operate a motor vehicle with any object…affixed to the front windshield…so as to obstruct or reduce the driver’s clear view through the front windshield.” This would mean that dashcams are allowed as long as they’re placed on the dashboard and not the windshield.
Maine allows dashcams on the windshield or dashboard as long as it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s vision. Maine’s law has an exemption for “required or provided equipment of the vehicle,” which could apply to dashcams in trucks.
Maryland has specific requirements for dashboard camera placement. Essentially, drivers can place dashcams above the AS-1 line or higher than 5 inches below the top of the windshield. Drivers can also place a dashcam within a 7-inch square in the bottom corner of the windshield.
Drivers in Massachusetts cannot place a dashcam on the windshield because it counts as “non-transparent material.” Instead, place the camera on the dashboard. Drivers can use a side dashcam attached to the side window if the “total visible light reflectance is not more than 35%.”
Dashcams are legal in Michigan, but they cannot be placed on the windshield. However, the law doesn’t apply to trucks over 10,000 pounds, truck tractors, buses, or trucks carrying hazardous waste.
In Minnesota, drivers must mount dashboard cameras “immediately behind, slightly above, or slightly below the rearview mirror.” Dashcams count as “driver feedback and safety monitoring equipment” and are legal.
Mississippi does not allow any objects to obstruct the driver’s view. However, there are no laws specifically restricting dashcams. Drivers should mount a dashcam on the dashboard to be safe.
Missouri is one of the few states that has no mention of obstructions to the driver’s view. This means that dashcams are legal to install and that the driver can install a dashcam wherever is most comfortable for them. To avoid obstructing vision, install the camera behind the rearview mirror or in the bottom or top of the windshield.
In Montana, the law requires drivers to have their windshields completely unobstructed. Specifically, objects (whether transparent or non-transparent) cannot “obstruct, obscure, or impair the driver’s clear view.” Drivers in Montana should install their dashcam on their dashboard instead of the windshield.
Although dashboard cameras are legal in Nebraska, drivers are not allowed to install them directly on the windshield. They can install dashcams on the dashboard, and it is legal, as long as the drivers obtain permission from other cab passengers before recording audio.
Drivers in Nevada can install dashcams that are smaller than a 6-inch square in the “lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver.” Drivers cannot install dashcams anywhere else on the windshield. However, you can install a dashcam on the dashboard with no restrictions.
In New Hampshire, drivers are not allowed to install a dashcam on the front windshield. However, if the car has a back camera, the driver is allowed to install a back camera that watches activity from the rear side of the car. Drivers are also allowed to installdash cams on the dashboard.
New Jersey does not allow a driver to install any non-transparent objects on the front windshield or on the driver’s side or passenger’s side window. When installing a dashcam, install it on the dashboard near the windshield on the passenger’s side.
New Mexico’s dashboard camera law states, “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, or in the rearmost window if the latter is used for driving visibility.” Drivers should only install dashcams on the dashboard and not on the windshield.
According to New York bill A5132, it “Provides for a 5% automobile insurance premium reduction for noncommercial passenger motor vehicles equipped with an operating dashboard camera.” Dashcams are legal and encouraged in New York because they act as a non-biased passenger and help to clear ambiguous traffic accidents. Drivers should install a dashcam on the dashboard and not on the windshield.
North Carolina does not mention dashboard cameras or windshield obstruction in its motor vehicle laws. Drivers should use discretion to determine the best and safest place for a dashcam.
North Dakota law states that drivers cannot install dashcams on the windshield. Drivers must have all windows cleared from any obstruction, including stickers, dashcams and posters. The best place for a dashcam in North Dakota is on the dashboard.
Ohio law does not allow drivers to install a dashcam on their windshields. All dashcams have to be installed on the dashboard or elsewhere in the car. As long as the camera doesn’t obscure any part of the windshield, it is legal to record video and audio in the cab.
To have a dashcam in the vehicle in Oklahoma, it cannot be installed anywhere on the windshield. Drivers can install dashcams on the dashboard as long as it does not obscure any part of the windshield.
According to the Oregon legislature, “any material that prevents or impairs the ability to see into or out of the vehicle” is prohibited. It is illegal to place a dashcam on the windshield or on any other windows in the car. Drivers can place a dashcam on the dashboard and record a constant loop of video and audio.
Pennsylvania law prevents drivers from mounting a dashcam on any of the windows in the car, especially the windshield. The law requires that drivers have a full view from their windshield without obstruction. Mounting a dashcam on the dashboard carries no restrictions.
In Rhode Island, dashcams are legal but cannot be mounted on the windshield. Drivers can install a dashcam on the dashboard pointing forwards towards the road. As long the dashcam doesn’t “obstruct the driver’s clear view,” it is legal.
South Carolina allows mounted dashcams on the dashboard, but not on the front windshield or any of the windows in the car. The driver must be able to see out of any window of the car without straining.
Non-transparent materials are not allowed on the front windshield, side wings, side, or rear windows of any vehicle in South Dakota. Drivers can mount dash cams on the dashboard of the car. It is also legal to record video while driving and record audio of those in the vehicle – with permission or notice.
Tennessee law requires that the driver’s view is unobstructed. This means that drivers cannot mount dashcams or GPS systems on the front windshield of the vehicle. Drivers can legally install a dashcam on the dashboard of the vehicle without restriction.
In Texas, a driver commits an offense “if the person operates a motor vehicle that has an object or material that is placed on or attached to the windshield or side or rear window and that obstructs or reduces the operator’s clear view.” Dashcams are legal in Texas, but they cannot adhere to the front windshield.
In Utah, drivers can mount dashboard cameras on the windshield as long as the dashcam is along the top of the windshield and doesn’t extend down further than 4 inches or in the lower left corner and doesn’t extend out more than 4 inches. Drivers can also install cameras on the back windows of the car without penalty.
Vermont law allows drivers to place dashcams in the lower right-hand windshield area as long as the device is less than 4 inches tall and 12 inches long. In the upper left hand corner of the windshield, the device can be 2 inches high and 2 1/2 inches long.
Virginia state law prohibits a driver from placing a dashcam on the windshield but allows the driver to place the dashcam on the dashboard. As long as the driver has a clear, unobstructed view of the road, the placement is allowed.
Drivers in Washington can have dashcams mounted on the dashboard to record a loop of audio and visual while driving or while parked. The driver cannot mount the camera on the dashboard because it could obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road.
Drivers in West Virginia are not allowed to have non-transparent materials mounted to the front windshield. There are no laws restricting the placement of a dashcam on any other windows in the car. To be safe, install a dashcam on the dashboard out of the driver’s line of sight.
In Wisconsin, dashboard cameras are legal; however, drivers cannot mount a dash camera on the windshield unless they mount it behind the rearview mirror. The camera also cannot be mounted within the area cleaned by the normal sweep of the car’s windshield wipers. Wisconsin also does not allow anything placed between the driver and the windshield, making it ambiguous about where to install a dashcam.
Wyoming allows a driver to mount a dashcam on the dashboard but not on the front windshield. As long as the dashcam does not obscure the windshield, dashcams are legal.
In all U.S. states, dashboard cameras are legal. The majority of the states do not allow a driver to mount a dashcam on the windshield, but all of them allow a driver to mount one on the dashboard. For more information about your state’s dashcam laws, check with the State Patrol.