Can you be prosecuted from dash-cam footage? (2023)

Dave Yorke is an ex-Merseyside motorcycle police sergeant and Tactical Pursuit Advisor. We asked him to look into what the dash-cam portal scheme, which encourages road users to submit footage of potential offences, means for motorcyclists…

People have always reported bad driving to the police – or riding for that matter – but before the advent of dash-cams there was little officers could do about it.

If there were enough complaints about a certain area then the police could set up an operation, but other than that it was pretty much one word against the other and as far as the police are concerned, without a realistic chance of a prosecution, that’s pretty much where the action stops.

Now though, by using modern technology, asking the public to send in footage of driving offences and making it accessible to complete the process, officers can have eyes where they previously didn’t. By doing so, they’re not asking the public to do their job for them – people have always phoned the police about bad driving – this is just a more effective way of conducting that side of the business. It only becomes a problem if forces reduce other means of Roads Policing enforcement, like dedicated Roads Policing Officers…

Quick links to dash-cam facts

What happens to dash-cam footage sent to the police?
What happens if police decide to prosecute as a result of dash-cam footage?
Is it important for the number plate to be visible on dash-cam footage?
What else must be shown on dash-cam footage for prosecution?
Can you be prosecuted for speeding through someone’s dash-cam footage?
Do you have to send the original footage to the police?
Does footage have to have the correct time and date on it, or can you use a GoPro?
Does sharing footage on social media make it inadmissible as evidence?
Will I have to go to court after submitting dash-cam footage?
How likely are motorcyclists to be prosecuted through dash-cam footage?
Can the police seize the footage from my dash-cam / helmet camera?
Is the dash-cam scheme good news for motorcyclists?

What happens to dash-cam footage sent to the police?

Dash-cam footage – or clips from any source – can get sent to the police in a number of ways, either via a link on the force’s own website or via the national dash-cam portal. Or, if that particular police force doesn’t have a system in place, then you have to either email or phone 101 and ask how to proceed.

Either way, the footage is uploaded and a police officer will view it and make a decision on how to proceed… I’ll come to that later, but each clip has to be accompanied by a statement – it’s a proforma type, which should easily lead you through what’s required, and on the national dash-cam portal you’re guided through the steps.

(Video) CAN YOU BE PROSECUTED BY DASHCAM? YES YOU CAN

The reviewing officer will look at the statement as well as the footage and make a decision on how to proceed with it. They will either NFA (no further action) due to there not being any offences committed or insufficient evidence on the footage, they might send some form of warning letter, or they can prosecute (if an educational course isn’t appropriate).

Time is the key though; most of the offences that are highlighted by members of the public – careless driving, jumping red lights, mobile phone use and such – all have a time limit for service of a summons in six months. That doesn’t mean you’ve got six months to send the footage in as the driver or rider of the offending vehicle has to be given a Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days.

What happens if police decide to prosecute as a result of dash-cam footage?

The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) will ask the registered keeper of the vehicle to name the driver or rider at the time of the alleged offence; they’ll be the same person or a family member in most cases, but sometimes it won’t be so straightforward, and it’ll be an unknown ‘friend of a friend’. The registered keeper could choose not to name the driver or rider to protect someone, or just to give the cops the run around, but failing to nominate someone means they fall foul of a separate offence, which carries six points and a fine of up to £1,000, and which is generally more than the penalty the original offence carries.

People sometimes accept an educational course and then try to delay taking that course until the six month limit for summons is up, in an effort to avoid prosecution that way. In those cases, the electronic file will have a reminder set on it and will raise the alarm if it looks like things are getting tight time wise, urging the officer to raise a summons as a failsafe.

Is it important for the number plate to be visible on dash-cam footage?

There needs to be enough to show the offence that you’re alleging and the number plate for the vehicle needs to be visible – the police won’t enhance it and if it’s unreadable then that will be the end of the matter. Remember this is all about enhancing what the public have always done in reporting things, and in the old days, if someone phoned up the police and said a blue car has just cut them up, nothing could have been done with that either.

It’s important to remember that we’re looking primarily at the dash-cam footage upload scheme here. This system is not used for assessing evidence in the case of a collision, in which case police will use any footage they have access to in order to help establish what happened.

What else must be shown on dash-cam footage for prosecution?

We asked Paul Mountford from Merseyside Safer Roads Partnership what needs to be on the footage and when it should be sent in: “Any footage of an alleged offence should start one to two minutes prior to the incident itself,” he told us. “This is to ensure that there was no previous incident that may have led to or caused the incident in question. There needs to be clear evidence of the offence in question along with the registration number of the offending vehicle.

(Video) HOW LIKELY ARE MOTORISTS TO BE PROSECUTED THROUGH DASH-CAM FOOTAGE?

“It's also worth pointing out that anyone who reports an incident must be willing to attend court (if required) and must keep their original footage until the matter has been concluded. Finally, in Merseyside we insist that any footage is submitted to Merseyside Police within 10 days of the alleged incident, to allow our officers to process and investigate the case within the timescales”.

There will, however, always be incidents that are far more serious than a low-level careless driving, which the police will always look into; it might be that the car you’ve filmed cutting you up but never caught its number plate had just been involved in a serious incident moments earlier. In those cases, the police will probably ask separately from this operation for any dash-cam footage from drivers around the area at the time of an incident.

The dash-cam reporting system is designed for reporting driving incidents, but it shouldn’t be used to report collisions.

Can you be prosecuted for speeding through someone’s dash-cam footage?

The dash-cam reporting scheme works around offences like careless and dangerous driving, close-passes on pedal cyclists (and motorcycles for that matter), plus other offences like contravening red lights or using a mobile phone while driving; it’s not designed to detect speeding offences.

There are all sorts of mathematics to work out speed, the most obvious being time and distance, and camera frames per second can be used to work out the speed of a vehicle. But the police aren’t going to go to massive lengths to work out the approximate speed of anything, unless the speed is so obviously high that it amounts to dangerous driving, in which case they will.

It only takes one committed officer to start the ball rolling and if the video is from a location that suffers from a high number of complaints from members of the public, then it’s likely to attract attention. Imagine a car or bike meet where the local community continually complain about drivers’ or riders’ behaviour, then a video appears, confirming all the complaints. Even if no action is taken over the video then the police will probably do something about it themselves – they might start actively patrolling the area with a view to speed enforcement.

The National Dashcam Safety Portal is the easiest way to upload footage to the police

Do you have to send the original footage to the police?

Once the footage has been uploaded to the police database you’ll need to make sure that you keep the original file safely in its original state. The footage sent to the police has to be as it was recorded, so no editing or placing audio on top to describe what’s happening. The reviewing officer will look at the video and compare it with the statement you made at the time of submission and decide what course of action to take. The police will keep the submitted footage for at least two years, and long enough for any court processes to take place.

Does footage have to have the correct time and date on it, or can you use a GoPro?

A time and date stamp isn’t important as you’ll be making a statement around the details of the events anyway, so you can cover any changes in there. That means it doesn’t have to be dash-cam footage that gets sent in; any footage from any equipment –like a GoPro or other action camera – is fine.

Footage from a phone can also be submitted, but don’t use it while driving as the police will also look into any other offences that you may have committed and have become apparent while the footage is being reviewed.

Does sharing footage on social media make it inadmissible as evidence?

The current advice is that the footage shouldn’t be uploaded to social media, and should be kept out of the public domain in case it adversely affects any subsequent court proceedings. Think about the comments sections where things might get said that may affect the ability of a jury to make a judgement based solely on what they’ve heard of evidence in the courtroom.

Will I have to go to court after submitting dash-cam footage?

If a driver is offered an educational course they don’t have to accept it, and can elect to go to court. Or the incident might be so serious that the police will prosecute straight away.

A driver or rider who’s had their behaviour highlighted has the right to answer those allegations and argue them in court, so a police force won’t accept your video under the scheme if you’re not prepared to make a statement and go to court yourself, from the outset.

(Video) Operation Snap - Traffic offences caught on dash cam | Devon & Cornwall Police

If it does get to court, your name will be mentioned but not your address, and your address won’t be disclosed to the other party’s solicitors either.

How likely are motorcyclists to be prosecuted through dash-cam footage?

33 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales currently accept footage through the National Dash-cam Safety Portal.

I asked Essex Police how many motorcyclists – another vulnerable user group – had been highlighted or prosecuted through their scheme (called ‘Extra Eyes’) for the financial year 2019/2020, and although they said that there had been 3,947 submissions, they couldn’t tell me how many offending vehicles were motorcycles.

Derbyshire couldn’t differentiate between vehicle type for 642 of 2019, but said that there was one motorcycle-related video submitted between January and March 2020. In that instance, the rider wasn’t subject to any action.

Can the police seize the footage from my dash-cam / helmet camera?

Yes, there are occasions when the police can seize a dash-cam or a helmet cam. This would most likely take place when dangerous driving has taken place, or there’s a fatality, and it might not necessarily be seized at the roadside.

Is the dash-cam scheme good news for motorcyclists?

Northamptonshire Police started to receive submissions in August 2019, so I asked Supt. Kevin Mulligan – a keen biker himself both in and out of his job – how the scheme could help in reducing casualties among motorcyclists.

“Having a helmet-cam or fixed camera on your bike allows the actions of others who put you in danger to be witnessed and potentially used as evidence against them. There are lots of cheap yet decent quality cameras out there and I would encourage all bikers to think about getting one”

(Video) Dashcam video footage secures prosecutions

Although the majority of police forces in England and Wales are signed up to the operation under one name or another, neither Police Service Northern Ireland nor Police Scotland are. PSNI does have some information on its website around what to do if people witness “poor driving behaviour”, and encourages a call to 101.

It’s important to say that if there’s no obvious easy link on a police force website, people can always call 101 and report something, it’s just a longer, more resource-intensive way of doing it. The Isle of Man Police, for instance, aren’t on the scheme but their social media posts say that they have acted on dash-cam footage.

(Video) Operation Snap - Traffic offences caught on dash cam | Dorset Police

FAQs

Can dashcam footage be used against you? ›

Dash camera footage can definitely be used as evidence, however, if you choose to use the dash camera footage you have provided, you may find you also implicate yourself and provide evidence of your own dangerous driving.

Do you have to give police your dash cam footage? ›

In short, yes, the police can seize your dashcam and footage. They will likely ask you to give it to them. If you refuse, they may go a step further and obtain a warrant to seize the evidence.

Can dashcam footage prove speeding? ›

It's very difficult to compare them to the speed calculation provided by your dashboard camera, we all know that even the courts trust the police equipment more than any other, but in some cases, the dashboard camera can be proven more accurate and save you from a speeding ticket.

What happens to dash cam footage? ›

Dash cam footage is recorded onto a micro SD card. When this card is full the camera will automatically loop and record over the oldest 3-minute file. Footage can be transferred onto a computer, phone or tablet & stored permanently.

Do Dashcams hold up in court? ›

Dash cam video — as long as it is recorded in a public place, is relevant to the case, and can be authenticated (meaning that it can be proved that the footage is from your camera and recorded at the time of the incident) — is nearly always admissible in court.

How long does a dash cam keep footage? ›

The recording quality, the size of the camera's SD card capacity, and other factors can all affect how long a dash cam records for. However, with a high-quality recording (1080p), you can expect the camera to record for about this long: 8 GB – 55 minutes. 16 GB – 110 minutes (1.8 hours)

Are dash cameras an invasion of privacy? ›

So far, courts have ruled that dash cams are not an invasion of privacy. But many jurisdictions have laws restricting someone's voice or image without their consent. In other words, organizations must let their employees know if and how they're using rear-facing dash cams. How can employers use dashcam footage?

How accurate are dash cam speed? ›

Normally you don't spend much time accelerating/decelerating hard though, so it is fairly accurate most of the time, probably no more than 1mph out, and you can work out the rest from what is happening. At times of poor signal there can be several mph of variation, but on average it will be correct.

How do you delete dash cam recordings? ›

How to delete Dash Cam recordings
  1. Press the Play icon – top right of the screen.
  2. Select a folder – Protected files, Unprotected files, Photos.
  3. Scroll through files use left and right arrows to find the one you want to delete.
  4. Press the delete button – bottom right.
  5. Confirm by clicking 'OK'

How do I know if my dash cam is recording? ›

How to know if dash cam is recording & turn off recording - YouTube

Does dash cam automatically delete? ›

A dashcam with Loop recording stores the video files on the SD card in shorter fragments, usually 3 or 5 minutes. When the SD card is full, the dashcam automatically deletes the oldest file so there is space for a new file.

Are Dashcams worth it? ›

So, is a dash cam worth it? These days, the answer to that question is almost resoundingly yes, and people are going out and buying these devices for their vehicles to protect themselves. Dashcams can do far more than simply put other people at fault for their own reckless driving.

Is dash cam footage admissible in court Ireland? ›

Sharing Dash Cam Footage

An Garda Síochána may request a copy of dash cam footage from controllers in relation to the investigation of a crime. The provision of personal data, including dash cam footage, to law enforcement authorities may be permitted under Section 41 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

How do I share my dash cam footage? ›

The quickest option, if your insurer allows it, is to use a file transfer service such as WeTransfer or a cloud storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

Will dash cam record while parked? ›

Parking mode is a feature of some dash cams that allows them to continue recording while your car is parked and turned off. Basic dash cams without a parking mode will turn off while your car's engine is off, so your car is only monitored while you are driving.

Can you post dash cam footage online? ›

Violating privacy laws may land you into legal problems, so avoid filming private residences without consent, do not upload dashboard footage taken in private spaces without consent.

Are dash cams GDPR compliant? ›

If you are using a dash cam in your own vehicle for personal use, you will be exempt from GDPR requirements. Any business use will need to be regulated however, to avoid extensive fines.

Which cars have dash cam built in? ›

5 Popular Cars With In-Built Dash Cams (With Pictures)
  • Subaru Crosstrek.
  • Cadillac CT6.
  • Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Tesla Model S.
  • BMW X7.
18 Jan 2021

What speed will a 30mph camera flash at? ›

Most police forces have a tolerance of 10% plus 2 mph above the limit before a speed camera 'flashes'. So on a 30 mph road, a camera wouldn't normally activate unless a car drove past at 35 mph or faster. So for example, On a 70 mph stretch of motorway, the threshold would go up to 79 mph.

How often are speed cameras wrong? ›

Can a speed camera be wrong? Fixed Gasto speed cameras are estimated to be accurate within one mile per hour and other types of fixed road cameras are estimated to be even more accurate. Therefore these speed cameras can be wrong but only marginally.

What is the speed camera tolerance? ›

The MPS speed tolerance level for fixed safety enforcement cameras is 10% plus 2mph.

How long does 32GB last in dash cam? ›

How much video can a 32GB SD card hold? A 32GB card can hold up to four hours' worth of dash cam footage when recording at 720p HD, or full 1080p HD at 30 frames per second. It will record approximately two hours' worth of footage when recording at 1440p Quad HD footage.

What does red light on dash cam mean? ›

A: The red light is on when the internal battery is charging. It may stay on for a while then go off when the battery is fully charged. The blinking blue light means the camera is recording.

What does the green light on dash cam mean? ›

The green light is an indicator that the device is on and the red light indicates the camera is recording.

How do dash cameras save recordings? ›

In order to record all the time you are driving, dash cams are designed to record on a “loop”. Once the recording space is full, it will start to record over the data that is oldest. So your device will always preserve the most recent data. The dash cam will record directly onto a standard format SD card.

Do dash cams delete old videos? ›

Do your dash cams allow all-time recording and overwrite the older videos by itself when the SD card is full? Yes, all of our dash cams do have a feature known as loop recording, so yes, it does automatically delete older videos by itself once the SD card storage runs out.

What is 5 minute loop recording? ›

For example, set up the camera to a 5-minute loop recording mode. The camera will cut up the entire captured video recording into a series of short video clips. The duration of each pin will be 5 minutes. After splitting, the camera will store these short videos in memory space.

What happens if you turn loop recording off on dash cam? ›

Edit: Be aware that if loop recording is turned off the camera will record until the card is full or until the video file is 4GB in length then all recording will stop.

Are dash cameras an invasion of privacy? ›

So far, courts have ruled that dash cams are not an invasion of privacy. But many jurisdictions have laws restricting someone's voice or image without their consent. In other words, organizations must let their employees know if and how they're using rear-facing dash cams. How can employers use dashcam footage?

Can I post dash cam footage online? ›

Violating privacy laws may land you into legal problems, so avoid filming private residences without consent, do not upload dashboard footage taken in private spaces without consent.

Are Dashcams illegal in Europe? ›

Countries such as Austria and Portugal have a straight-up ban on the use of dash cams due to privacy laws. Meanwhile, in places like Luxembourg, it is legal to use a dash cam but it cannot film in a public space.

Are dash cams GDPR compliant? ›

If you are using a dash cam in your own vehicle for personal use, you will be exempt from GDPR requirements. Any business use will need to be regulated however, to avoid extensive fines.

Which cars have dash cam built in? ›

5 Popular Cars With In-Built Dash Cams (With Pictures)
  • Subaru Crosstrek.
  • Cadillac CT6.
  • Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Tesla Model S.
  • BMW X7.
18 Jan 2021

Is dash cam legal in US? ›

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.

Can I put dashcam footage on social media? ›

Can you share dash cam footage online? Dash cam footage can be pulled from your camera and shared online. There's an increasing tendency to do this, but for anything you share, you should at least find a justification for doing so. In many cases, examples of 'bad driving' may not actually be the fault of the driver.

How do you save a dashcam footage? ›

How to save a Tesla Dash Cam clip in Version 11 - YouTube

How do I upload a dashcam footage to my computer? ›

How To Retrieve Videos From Your Dashcam
  1. Step 1: Remove the Memory Card. This step will vary depending on the type of dashcam you own. ...
  2. Step 2: Insert Memory Card Into Adapter. This step only applies to Micro SD cards. ...
  3. Step 3: Insert Memory Card Into Card Reader. ...
  4. Step 4: Copy Video Files to your PC.

Why do Russians always have dash cams? ›

"Many Russian drivers install and run dashboard cameras constantly to capture evidence in the case of accidents or scams involving pedestrians purposely getting hit. The cameras have long provided a steady stream of YouTube hits, which are now commonly combined into compilations."

Why are Dashcams illegal in Germany? ›

Prior to 2016 lower German courts had refused to accept dash cam footage as evidence in civil courts, citing privacy laws put in place as a reaction to the surveillance activities of the Stasi in pre-unification East Germany.

Where can I legally place a dash cam? ›

The most recommended place for the dash cam to be fitted is at the top of the windscreen. Make sure that it is tucked out of the way of your field of view, and ensure that no wires are dangling in the way, either. If the police consider your dash cam or any wiring to be obstructing your view, they could fine you.

Videos

1. Caught on Dashcam: Op Snap submissions to Devon & Cornwall Police
(Devon & Cornwall OPCC)
2. Caught on dashcam: Drivers' footage leads to prosecutions BBC NEWS 5/01/2019
(Mo Ahmed)
3. Careless driver nicked by dashcam evidence NIP sent to the owner
(Dash cam Liverpool)
4. Caught by dash cam in Liverpool RED LIGHTS DELTA TAXI (PRIVATE HIRE)
(Dash cam Liverpool)
5. Dash Cam Saves Citizen From Lying Trooper
(Audit the Audit)
6. Dash Cams should everyone have one - ODF 5
(Older Drivers Forum web)
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