Dash cams: do they stand up in court?

Motor Accident Claims

October 1, 2016


The content of this website is provided on the basis that it is general information only. The content of the website does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be used as such. Formal legal advice should always be obtained. Whilst the information contained in this website has been formulated with due care, we do not accept any liability to any person for the information (or the use of such information) which is provided on this website or incorporated into it by reference. The information on this website is provided on the basis that anyone accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content.

With the increasing incidence of motor vehicle break ins, road rage, violent assaults and insurance disputes, dash cams have become common place in Australian vehicles. In fact a survey back in 2014 indicated that 57 percent of road users supported the use of dash cams.

But can they really be used as evidence of another party’s fault in an accident? And what legal restrictions apply to their use?

Dash cams are mobile video camera devices which can be installed on the dashboard of a vehicle to continuously record what is happening in front of the vehicle through the windscreen, whether its driving or parked.


What Legal Restrictions are There on Using Dash Cams in NSW?

Provided your dash cam is appropriately installed and doesn’t cause a dangerous distraction or vision obstruction in your vehicle, they are generally legal to use in Australia. It is also legal to film people in public places including drivers and any incidents that occur on the road.

However, there are two limitations that users should be aware of regarding what you can legally record.


 ‘Private acts’

Private acts include those that are generally carried out indoors in circumstances where it is reasonable for the parties to expect they are not in view of other people. Therefore if you have your vehicle parked inside a garage or facing into a building, you may need to consider what your dash cam might be recording.

 ‘Private conversations’ 

It is generally illegal under NSW law to record or intercept a private conversation without the consent of the parties to the conversation, or to possess a recording of a conversation obtained illegally.

If your dash cam was to record audio while you had a passenger travelling with you in your vehicle and they were unaware that the conversation was being recorded, the recording may be illegal. The situation may be different if if your dash cam managed to record audio of a conversation you had with someone following an accident in the presence of other people, and where the conversation is not considered by the parties to be private. 


Can Dash Cams Be Used as Evidence?

In general, yes they can.

In fact they can be very useful for determining fault in most cases. Insurance companies will take into account any video or photographic evidence you can provide of an accident or its aftermath which proves which party was at fault. Similarly, dash cam footage is admissible evidence in court to prove or disprove fault in a motor vehicle accident.

However, since a dash cam only provides view from a limited perspective, it will not be the only evidence that will be taken into account. A party will not succeed in proving fault simply because they have dash cam footage. The visual quality of the picture may also affect how it is viewed or interpreted by an insurer or judge.

Schofield King Lawyers have experienced car accident lawyers in Sydney who are always ready to provide you legal support.