Are Dashboard Cameras Legal In Canada?
Dashboard cameras have become increasingly popular across the world due to their numerous benefits.
They are on-board cameras that continuously record images and sounds from your vehicles windscreen while driving and even when the engine is off is some cases.
As soon as you start your car, the camera records video directly to a storage device on a continuous loop, so it sees what you see as a driver. Some record sound, some can record in night vision, and some even have built-in GPS, which specifies the video footage time, date and place of recording.
Regular drivers, commercial drivers, police officers etc. use dashboard cameras in a number of ways to achieve different purposes.
Major Functions of dashboard cameras in Automobiles
The most popular reason to install a dashboard camera is to offer driver’s calmness and peace of mind that if they are involved in road accidents, they will have a perfect alibi in their dashboard camera video footage.
The information provided by this device will be valuable and would point fingers at the party that holds the blame. It is like a black box recorder for cars.
Some other uses of a dashboard camera are to give driving instructions and report unruly on-road behavior by motorists and pedestrians.
Parents or guardians also use them to monitor their cars when taken out for a ride by their kids or wards.
You can safeguard insurance premiums with a dashboard camera. By providing you a round the clock recording of your time on the road and sometimes off the road, you can provide clear evidence of an accident and not have to bother about eyewitness reports.
They can also make car burglar and thieves stay away from you and your vehicle. It is also enables quick and easy apprehension of criminals of law with video evidence for recognition or conviction.
Dashboard cameras have proved to be very effective tools for car owners and vehicle drivers.
With this device, many users have captured several accidents and acts of vandalism. Whether you want to capture that nice moment when you are driving or just want to record to make sure you have a video if something happens to your car or someone else’s, a car dash cam is nice to have.
How are dashboard cameras legal in Canada?
Despite the numerous uses and benefits of a dashboard camera, some questions have been raised about its legality and acceptance by both the police force and the masses in Canada.
Make no mistake, the usage of this device is completely legal but with some constraints.
For a driver interested in making recordings of his long car cruise for security and safety purpose, then it is legal. However, in the case of someone always making sure it is recording and constantly looking over them, then it is illegal because this can cause road accidents.
Therefore, its legality is completely up to an individual if he uses it in accordance with the law.
Anyone in Canada can take pictures or record videos in public environment because the country is a “one legal” environment. Although, many police officers frown at the use of this device because it sometimes captures police misconducts.
Many have harassed and threatened to arrest motorists whose dashboard cameras took footage of them and their activities. Regardless, there is no Canadian law that prevents you from using it, not even when the subject of the surveillance is a police officer.
There are certain rights you should know about photography and taping police officers in Canada. These privileges are not only reserved to the media but every citizen of the country.
There is no law in Canada that prohibits you from taking photographs or video in a public place.
Preventing an individual from taking photos or video is an infringement of his or her rights under the law. The law further grants you, a member of the public the right to take pictures or video recordings of a police officer executing his or her duties in public or in a location where you are still within your rights.
You taking photos or videos do not in and of itself, constitute interference when a police officer is lawfully discharging his or her duties. The police officer cannot take your phone or camera simply for recording him or her, as long as you were not obstructing. Neither can he make you show him/her the contents of your device nor make you delete them.
Having knowledge of these rights prevents the practice of police intimidation of citizens who use their phone cameras or dashboard camera to record police activities. There is nothing in the criminal code that would prevent someone from taking pictures or recording videos.
Moreover, dashboard cameras video footage has helped the police with on-going investigations. Dashboard cameras footage that is submitted voluntarily helps in apprehending and tracking down criminals and motorist who break the laws.
The police force now appeals to motorist for their dashboard cameras footage to help keep the road safe. In June 2014, the inspector general of Ontario provincial police encouraged the use of it by drivers.
He said the police force use the video footage in their investigation all the time and will only copy it and not take it from motorists. So, have no doubts here, dashboard cameras ARE legal in Canada.
In as much as the permissibility of dashboard cameras in Canada encompasses its entire environment including its ports and borders.
There have been some controversies surrounding its usage at border crossings. Some custom officers always seem agitated by the presence of a camera in a vehicle. They fear that criminals can use this footage for scouting border crossing facilities and protocols.
This has led to motorists seen taking down their cameras at borders or stuffing their lens with a piece of cloth to show that their camera is not filming.
Despite these controversies, there is no prohibition on dashboard cameras at Canadian border crossing facilities, provided its usage is not interfering with a customs officer’s duty. In addition, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) confirms this.
Dashboard cameras may be on and recording while waiting in line and they do not have to be turned off when speaking with an officer as long as it does not hinder or obstruct the officer’s ability to carry out their duties. The custom officers however have the right to inspect electronic storage devices like the cameras for criminal activities that do not include border crossing or highway footages.
So, are dash cams legal in Canada? Yes – While the use of dashboard cameras is legal, it can be a good recipe for accidents and distractions.
If you fiddle with it while driving around, this leads to distraction behind the wheel and could actually cause accidents instead of preventing it.
On the other hand, if you leave it lying in the vehicle and recording without touching it, it is fine. Otherwise, it is a potential danger. How legal and acceptable it can be is up to you and not the police force. Get yourself one of these devices to spice up and secure your driving experience.