How To Request Dash Cam Footage?

We go in-depth on how to go about requesting dashcam footage from the police. This can help you either get your charges dismissed or reduced!

A dash cam also known as a Dashboard camera is a driving recorder for your vehicle in case of accidents. It records through the front window and sometimes the rear as well.

Dashcam and Body camera footage are usually used by police officers in trials to explain their point of view that led up to the arrest. However, it can be of use to you as well.

Perhaps you have been charged with DUI or perhaps wrongly given a speeding ticket. Here, you can request dashcam footage and prove your innocence.

Body cam and Dashcam evidence have an impact on verdicts in court proceedings all over the United States. Footage taken before the arrest showcases the process that led up to the arrest and helps officers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in building and presenting their cases.

Read on to find out how you can prove you’re not guilty and have been wrongly accused of the crime!

Approaching the Police

Before you even consider directly approaching the police, it’s always a good idea to get an attorney on your side who is well-versed with the state law. Their expertise allows you to handle the situation more confidently and ensure your rights are not violated.  This can save time on your part as well as the police department.

That being said, you can always also stand up for yourself and represent yourself by writing a letter to the law enforcement agency. Although this may seem daunting and traditional, it is important to know that to acquire dash cam footage you will require many hard copies of documents.

We go in deep on how to write a request letter to the police. This can be a simple straightforward letter or a more formal request depending on the nature of your case.

Be Familiar with State Laws

Another crucial step in the process of requesting footage is to make yourself familiar with the laws of your state. In most states, the request must be submitted within 45 days of recording. Furthermore, the Dash cam footage is usually retained by the police department for 30 to 180 days before being deleted. 

You can request dash cam footage under two forms of legal request: subpoena duces tecum, a legal order requiring that witnesses produce evidential information, and under the Freedom of Information Act which gives the public the right to access records from federal agencies.

It can be easier to get footage when you are one of the involved parties as opposed to a third party. The police will be more likely to give you the footage if you are a victim.

Submit Request in Writing

When it comes to writing the letter start with a proper Introduction, stating the purpose of the letter. Consider being specific with details about the incident such as date, time, and location, and description of the vehicle and parties involved this could help authorities locate the footage easily.

In addition to the written request, within the envelope include your citation and express your desire to seek information related to the citation. Be clear, crisp, and concise while maintaining a polite and professional tone.

Here’s a list of things you need to include in your request:

●     A copy of the citation with the officer including notes regarding the case.

●     Copy of other reports related to this case.

●     A copy of the calibration records for any Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and speed device concerning this case.

●     A copy of other evidential documents pertaining to the case.

In your request, make sure to clearly state your intent to obtain copies and not original evidence.

Address the envelope to your Police Department with “ATTENTION CUSTODIAN OF RECORDS” written on the front.

Consider Other Options

It is worth noting that many states have dedicated websites and forms for requesting these types of information. For example: Oklahoma has their dash cam request form uploaded online that one can print and use.

Similarly, North Carolina and Massachusetts also have detailed guidelines on requesting footage online through their portals or email.

You could also call up the department and follow up regarding your request made online. This is a much faster alternative to writing a letter.

Prepare for Delays and Additional Charges

Unfortunately, It is not uncommon for states to take time to process these requests and it often crosses the court date. It can take more than 45 days for the recording to reach you.

Court cases are handled after 10 to 14 days of incident. This can lead to a weak defense on your end. If you do get the footage after the case is shut, do not hesitate to argue and request the case be opened again.

Cases Where Dash Cam Footage is Not Provided

Despite being a participant in the incident there are certain circumstances under which the police cannot provide the footage. These include:

●     A minor is involved;

●     The footage involves intimacy;

●     The footage is of an interior place where privacy is expected;

●     It involves a dead body;

FAQs

Can you get police dash cam video?

Yes, you can. In case you feel wrongly charged and hence violated by the officers, you have the right to request the footage. However, it is important to remember the process can be tedious and time-consuming.

How long do police departments keep dashcam footage?

The police departments keep the footage for up to 30 to 180 days after which they are deleted. This is done as dash cam is usually used in traffic violations and these cases are concluded within two months.

Is Dash Cam Footage Acceptable Evidence in a Court Case?

Defendants confident in their innocence can request the footage as part of the discovery process. It is acceptable evidence in court cases on both the victim’s well as the officer’s part. The recording can show the misconduct on the officer’s part as well as put you in jeopardy.

Are police dash cams always recording?

Usually, police dash cams and body cams are constantly recording. When not actively recording the video is going to memory buffer where it stays for 30 to 180 seconds before it is overwritten.

Do police dash cameras have audio?

Yes, some dash cams have that feature but since it’s usually for vehicles and to record traffic violations, this feature is not necessary. All the more, police officers have to wear body cam which has built-in audio recording.

Conclusion

Dash cam footage should be easily accessible to the public. The police exist for the public and the public should ideally be able to request the footage in cases where they believe a violation has occurred. But. sadly that is not the case in reality.

In several cases, you can be entirely denied the footage on various grounds. In such circumstances, it is highly advisable to seek the services of a  legal professional. Experienced attorneys are likely to be on good terms with the higher-ups and can expedite the process of acquiring the footage.

There is a possibility that you won’t be able to get the footage on time or at all. And if you do, it likely took a lot of time and money.

In light of these challenges, if you’re concerned about protecting yourself while on the road, it might be worthwhile to get a dash cam yourself. We have a few recommendations and considerations that you might find helpful. 

We sincerely hope this guide has offered you a comprehensive understanding of the nuances in requesting and obtaining police dash cam footage, as well as potential benefits of owning a personal dash cam.

 

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  • Sattam Malick (Owner)

    I’m thrilled to introduce you to a world of automobiles that has fueled my fascination. As an Automobile Enthusiast and a Qualified Automobile Engineer, I’ve spent years immersed in the intricacies of bikes cars and other vehicles, from their design and mechanics to the latest innovations that drive the automotive industry forward. Now, with Rev Up Motor