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Dash Cam and Radar Detector Laws You Need to Know

Dash Cam and Radar Detector Laws You Need to Know

Dashboard cameras are a great way to improve the safety and security of motorists and cars on the road, and we cannot deny the power of dash cam footage in the event of an incident, such as a car accident.

But are dash cams legal? One concern many new dash cam owners have is whether or not they are allowed to use their device. While dash cams are legal to have in your car on the road, restrictions affecting legal dash cam installation and placement do vary from province to province.

The good news is that in general, you are legally allowed to drive with a dash cam in Canada. But,a dash cam is technically a form of surveillance, so are you subject to wiretapping and privacy laws, too?

Are dash cams legal in my area?

While dash cams are legal in Canada, some places discourage dash cams. The border crosses is a good example.

Heading over the border to the US

It all starts with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and its Rules & Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, and here’s what the relevant section (41 CFR 102-74-420) says:

Photographs for News, Advertising, or Commercial Purposes (41 CFR 102-74.420). Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of:

  • (a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;
  • (b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned, and;
  • (c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors or auditoriums for news purposes.

In other words, you will need permission from the US Customs & Border Protection Officers to keep your dash cam on and filming when you are crossing the border on the American Side.

Coming home to Canada

Fortunately, things do look a bit more relaxed on the Canadian side, but do keep in mind that the CBSA officials have the authority to inspect devices and review files to see if they are deemed harmful or dangerous.

What about dash cams that record audio - the issue of personal privacy

One of the concerns raised by dash cam is electronic surveillance especially in terms of audio recording. While it is true that the camera is focused on the road ahead and never really on the occupants of the vehicle, it does come with audio recording capabilities that allows it to record noise from inside the cabin of the car, including conversations between the occupants.

If you are travelling alone, then this is certainly not an issue. However, if you have a passenger with you, most laws on electronic surveillance require you to inform your passenger(s) that you have a dash cam on board and may record any conversations within the car.

Canadian rideshare and taxi passengers have a distinct advantage with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), a Canadian consumer-privacy law. Uber, Lyft and taxi rides all fall under PEPEDA’s privacy protections, in turn requiring “knowledgeable, informed consent” for the collection, use and disclosure of a person’s personal information, including video surveillance. While it may be sufficient to notify passengers using stickers or signs in the vehicle in the US, in Canada, the consent has to be explicit and informed. If consent was given for security purposes, the driver cannot use those recordings for any other reasons or purposes. Traditional taxi companies in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto go a step further: only police are able to access the footage.

Windshield Obstructions

While the more common crime that many Canadian drivers are guilty of is not scraping their windows or clearing their cars before driving off in the winter, there is technically no official law for mounting devices on your windshield. But as advocates for road safety, we recommend placing GPS, dash cams, radar detectors and phone-mounting devices in a strategic area where they won’t block your view of the road.

Are radar detectors legal in Canada?

Radar detectors are legal in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, but for the rest of the country, any type of device that warns about a law enforcement speed gun is illegal. For instance, having one in Ontario is a $170 fine, three demerit points and the device will be confiscated. In other words, drivers entering the province should take the device out of their vehicle.

Also, do pay attention to Section 129 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which states that anyone who willfully obstructs a public or peace officer in the execution of his duty has committed an indictable offence. It is important to understand and execute the jam-to-kill process quickly and efficiently. If you continue to prevent an officer from taking a speed measurement, they can justifiably charge you with preventing them from measuring your vehicles speed,

Will I get in trouble?

As the popularity around the use of dash cam footage grows with law enforcement and insurers in helping provide irrefutable evident in the event of an incident, it is highly unlikely that police officers will pull drivers over unless the dash cam is mounted in an area of the windshield that obstructs the video of the road of the driver. The best thing to do is to look at the dash cam laws in your own province. It also pays to learn the laws of other provinces especially if you plan on travelling across Canada or cross the border. The smart thing to do is choose a discreet dash cam model that you can easily mount behind your rearview mirror, that way, you will get the protection of the dash cam without getting yourself in trouble with the law.

Until next time, Safe Summer Driving, everyone!

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