Dashcams in DC/MD/VA

New2This

Well-Known Member
I'm at a little over a week ubering. I've been thinking about getting a dashcam, but had some hesitancy after seeing this story: http://laist.com/2016/01/15/taco_bell_exec_suing_uber_driver.php The dashcam saved the driver, but also got him sued.

Since I am driving in DC, MD & VA I figured I should find out what the legalities are in each jurisdiction on recording. I assumed my car is my property, and it would be a public place, I can do what I want, but wanted to check to be sure. I just spoke with an attorney in VA & another one that covers DC & MD. There's a huge distinction between doing just video & video with sound; go figure, lawyers making something complicated.

Here's the synopsis:

Cabs are different from rideshare vehicles. What might be legal for cabs might not be for ridesahre. This is all new areas of law that you don't want to be the guinea pig in breaking new case law.

Video only (no sound): All 3 jurisdictions, video is fine. Tape away.

Video & Audio:
VA & DC- Both are "one party consent" jurisdictions, meaning only one party (you) has to consent to have audio recorded. You can do record all day long without any problem.

MD- Here's where it gets tricky. MD is "two party consent" meaning both parties have to agree to be taped when audio is involved. She did give several options however:
1. Video only. No help if some drunk coed says you said nasty things to her.
2.Have signs inside the car (dash/windows) saying something to the effect of "For security purposes, video & audio recording may be done during your ride. By accepting your ride you are consenting to this recording"
3. Upon pax entering, point to camera (while recording) & say "I use this for safety. Are you ok with that?" If they complain about it, either turn sound off (video only) or cancel the ride.

Hope that helps someone.

Anyone have any good recommendations for ones that are dual facing (front exterior & inside the car) that doesn't cost an arm & a leg?

*Disclaimer- Even though it's the internet and I'm rich, brilliant, model good looks & hung to my knees, I'm not an attorney so don't go to court saying "this Dallas fan on the internet said I could do ____" because the judge will laugh at you & then post your idiocy to YouTube. You won't be able to sue the judge for $5 million either.
 

THE MAN!

Well-Known Member
Maryland law goes all the way back to Linda Tripp taping Monica Lewinsky. Maybe the most famous case law in regards?
 

Another Uber Driver

Well-Known Member
Moderator
If the driver of a District of Columbia taxicab has a video or audio recording device in his cab, he must post a sign, visible from outside the vehicle, that informs the passenger that he will be photographed/recorded. This applies to rented or owned cabs. ( I own mine).
 

Another Uber Driver

Well-Known Member
Moderator
*Disclaimer- Even though it's the internet and I'm rich, brilliant, model good looks & hung to my knees,
You forgot the supermodel/A-list actress GF/wife, the overpriced German buggy that you drive for your non-Uber car, oh, and you drive a two year old Maybach limousine as an UberX from time-to-time when you are bored (you can only drive a Maybach from time-to-time, as it is, the dealer's mechanics see more of it than you do, anyhow). In addition, you forgot the regular home in the Virginia Horse Country, the condo on Pennsylvania Avenue Downtownas well as the one in the East 70s in New York, the vacation home in the Hamptons/Martha's Vineyard, as well as the one in Biarritz.
 

Bart McCoy

Well-Known Member
As for Maryland jurisdiction, after the Maryland state trooper thing, I doubt Maryland will charge you with wiretapping inside an Uber. At trial, it was stated that wiretapping was not meant for this.

Havent seen any case law for MARYLAND that says you need to post anything( I.E. signs) to record video in your private car, or to be able to post cameras in anything that is your private property

The taco bell case might shed some light as to whether an Uber car, although a person's private vehicle being used for public transportation, will be considered a place where one would expect a reasonable expectation of privacy. I say no. For example, what if its a pool ride.....
 

Another Uber Driver

Well-Known Member
Moderator
, what if its a pool ride.....
AHA! This may be it. Although, if it does come up, there is the possibility that the judge could differentiate between Pool and X.

Even though the taxicab is considered a "public" vehicle, opinions from counsel seem to fall on the side of some expectation of privacy, hence the requirements for notification on District cabs. I am aware that some Virginia cabs have cameras, but I do not know if there are any laws or regulations on signage or notification. In addition, the METRObus does have a camera, although I am not sure if there are signs, or not. The last time that I was on a METRObus was when I lived on Seventeenth Street, which was quite some time back. There may not have been cameras, back then; I forget.

In most jurisdictions, the regulators and lawmakers use language to classify TNC vehicles that employs both "public" and "private". This non-specific both sides of the fence type language might create more problems than it tries to avoid. As time passes, and things occur, I suspect that there will be more and specific regulation of TNCs and their vehicles. In most places, the TNCs have managed to "arrange" to avoid too many regulations. It has worked in the short term, but, we seem to be past the initial period of an occurrence here and there to the period where more and more and different types of occurrences demand attention.
 

exuberdriver1515

Active Member
I'm at a little over a week ubering. I've been thinking about getting a dashcam, but had some hesitancy after seeing this story: http://laist.com/2016/01/15/taco_bell_exec_suing_uber_driver.php The dashcam saved the driver, but also got him sued.

Since I am driving in DC, MD & VA I figured I should find out what the legalities are in each jurisdiction on recording. I assumed my car is my property, and it would be a public place, I can do what I want, but wanted to check to be sure. I just spoke with an attorney in VA & another one that covers DC & MD. There's a huge distinction between doing just video & video with sound; go figure, lawyers making something complicated.

Here's the synopsis:

Cabs are different from rideshare vehicles. What might be legal for cabs might not be for ridesahre. This is all new areas of law that you don't want to be the guinea pig in breaking new case law.

Video only (no sound): All 3 jurisdictions, video is fine. Tape away.

Video & Audio:
VA & DC- Both are "one party consent" jurisdictions, meaning only one party (you) has to consent to have audio recorded. You can do record all day long without any problem.

MD- Here's where it gets tricky. MD is "two party consent" meaning both parties have to agree to be taped when audio is involved. She did give several options however:
1. Video only. No help if some drunk coed says you said nasty things to her.
2.Have signs inside the car (dash/windows) saying something to the effect of "For security purposes, video & audio recording may be done during your ride. By accepting your ride you are consenting to this recording"
3. Upon pax entering, point to camera (while recording) & say "I use this for safety. Are you ok with that?" If they complain about it, either turn sound off (video only) or cancel the ride.

Hope that helps someone.

Anyone have any good recommendations for ones that are dual facing (front exterior & inside the car) that doesn't cost an arm & a leg?

*Disclaimer- Even though it's the internet and I'm rich, brilliant, model good looks & hung to my knees, I'm not an attorney so don't go to court saying "this Dallas fan on the internet said I could do ____" because the judge will laugh at you & then post your idiocy to YouTube. You won't be able to sue the judge for $5 million either.
99.9% of pax are cool if you treat them OK. No need for a dash cam.

But you really are too late to the Uber game for it to be worthwhile. Rates are low and likely to drop further. All the profit is gone. Two years ago you could NET about $1/mile, after expenses and depreciation. Mile rate was higher, minute rater was higher, SRF was lower, Uber's commission was lower, and minimum fare was higher. Now, the per-mile rate is only about $1/mile, so unless it's surging, you're lucky to net $0.50/mile if you are lucky. Plus, you get to wait longer between pings and compete with 10 other uber drivers within a 5 block radius in most good areas.

Enjoy!
 

New2This

Well-Known Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
99.9% of pax are cool if you treat them OK. No need for a dash cam.

But you really are too late to the Uber game for it to be worthwhile. Rates are low and likely to drop further. All the profit is gone. Two years ago you could NET about $1/mile, after expenses and depreciation. Mile rate was higher, minute rater was higher, SRF was lower, Uber's commission was lower, and minimum fare was higher. Now, the per-mile rate is only about $1/mile, so unless it's surging, you're lucky to net $0.50/mile if you are lucky. Plus, you get to wait longer between pings and compete with 10 other uber drivers within a 5 block radius in most good areas.

Enjoy!
I'm sure but it's the 0.1% that are the issue.

I was in the nightclub business many moons ago & we had cameras (before Youtube, otherwise Sundays we could've posted hours worth of awesome footage) & every so often we'd get some drunk that would claim one of the bouncers did something or someone "fell" & wanted to sue. Many would-be lawsuits went away when the person (sober by then) was shown what an ass he/she was. I want it for peace of mind; if I have to schlep a few more drunks to pay for it so be it.

As I said in a previous thread, I did the Xchange Lease so I'm doing this strictly to Uber/Lyft enough to cover my lease/insurance payments (wound up being around $150/week) & using the car the rest of the week for my "real job" appointments & social life, such as it is. Xchange is taking the hit on the depreciation. I'm learning the surge game, as well as the differences between Uber & Lyft passengers (Pink is better!)

Doing this even a short time made me remember why I avoid driving in DC whenever possible on a personal basis.
 

LadyDi

Well-Known Member
... As I said in a previous thread, I did the Xchange Lease so I'm doing this strictly to Uber/Lyft enough to cover my lease/insurance payments (wound up being around $150/week) & using the car the rest of the week for my "real job" appointments & social life, such as it is. Xchange is taking the hit on the depreciation. I'm learning the surge game, as well as the differences between Uber & Lyft passengers (Pink is better!)

Doing this even a short time made me remember why I avoid driving in DC whenever possible on a personal basis.

Totally me New2This. I'm in that very same boat. I will re-schedule my Lyft appointment when the weather permits. Good looking out!!
 

Emp9

Well-Known Member
I'm pretty sure in our states that we pay property tax our cars are considered extensions of our homes. In which case it's legal. Anyway I have one and if I get an out of hand pax I'll be sure to mention it is recording so I am further covered in an event.
 
MD- Here's where it gets tricky. MD is "two party consent" meaning both parties have to agree to be taped when audio is involved. She did give several options however:
1. Video only. No help if some drunk coed says you said nasty things to her.
2.Have signs inside the car (dash/windows) saying something to the effect of "For security purposes, video & audio recording may be done during your ride. By accepting your ride you are consenting to this recording"
3. Upon pax entering, point to camera (while recording) & say "I use this for safety. Are you ok with that?" If they complain about it, either turn sound off (video only) or cancel the ride.
To protect myself, and after reviewing the issue of the State of Maryland v. Graber, I am satisfied that all I'd have to do is have signs that will reflect #2 of your suggestions (and yes, I will heed the disclaimer of you, the Cowgirl fan...[go Giants! LOL]. Even though Graber was about him being a moron on a bike and taped the plainclothes trooper with audio, "The judge ruled that Maryland's wire tap law does not prohibit recording of voice or sound in areas where privacy cannot be expected and that a police officer on a traffic stop has no legal expectation of privacy." [The "and" separates two distinct thoughts and one could argue that there can't be a reasonable expectation of privacy in one's ridesharing vehicle. There were other cases that supported that moron on his bike beating the wiretap rap.]

I'm sorry but I would rather defend my honor and reputation then have some pax lie about me, or wanting to participate in some foolishness where I may be forced to ask the pax to exit my vehicle. If pax gives me one star, I will give him one anyway and send Uber the video. I am currently looking for a dashcam that fits my needs...even if I have to spend a bit more. (I'm forming an LLC...this will be a tax deductible expense....)

And yes, I too am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The above does not constitute legal advice. I'm just a Giants fan who, at times, have been known to agree with Cowgirl fans on issues not necessarily pertaining to football. :biggrin:
 
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