COLUMBUS, Ohio — Law enforcement officials use dash cameras on their vehicles not only for accountability but, if needed, for evidence.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lieutenant Nathan Dennis said he has seen an uptick in personal dash cameras, but should that be a trend to follow?
Experts advise it is not a bad idea to get one, but drivers need to view that possibility from both sides of the lens.
On Dec. 23, 2022, the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Office responded to a deadly 46-vehicle crash on the Ohio Turnpike that happened during a snowstorm.
Lt. Dennis said, “Because of the weather conditions and the snow, it made it very hard for troopers to determine how exactly that crash occurred.”
He said that dashcam footage taken from the semi-trucks involved helped piece together what happened that day.
They are not just helpful with big commercial vehicles, Lt. Dennis said “[Ohio State Highway Patrol is] starting to utilize those personally owned dash cameras to help us do our job.”
He said dashcams could help law enforcement investigate smaller crashes that could happen in personal vehicles.
“Whether that be something that a crash that happened in front of a vehicle that has a camera installed and they’ve submitted that video to us to utilize or they were directly involved in the crash, we have taken that… any point in time where you have an extra layer of protection, it can be helpful.”
Lt. Dennis also noted that law enforcement will always ask for permission from whoever owns the dash camera video in a crash to get it from them, but if there are “exigent circumstances” they can find a way to get it without permission.
If someone ends up in a crash and wants to press charges, personal injury attorney, Jeff Kluesner agrees that more evidence can be better for their case.
“So often we have disputes about what happened, how a crash happened, who was at fault and so having a video of it is a very powerful tool for us.”
Kluesner works at Malek & Malek Law Firm in Columbus and he said he has seen a lot of instances where video from the Ohio Department of Transportation cameras is the only available option to see what led up to a crash, and that does not always show the whole picture.
“Any type of video or any type of evidential proof showing what happened in any particular crash can turn a potentially big case, you know, or a case where there’s a dispute which is worth nothing into something that you know is worth, depending on the injuries, millions of dollars.”
He said dash cam footage helps you see what a license plate number is on a hit-and-run.
It can also show the other person involved in a crash running a red light or clearly speeding.
Those factors could all help someone’s case, but those cameras can work both ways.
“If you’re the person that way driving distracted if you’re the person that was speeding if you’re a person that uses your cellphone while you drive, you may want to reconsider having a dashcam.”
Kluesner advised everyone should drive defensively with or without a dash camera.
He said drivers should not keep dash cams on their windshields because that placement could be a distraction for driving. Keep dashcams on actual dashboards.
Here are a few options to order a dash camera online.