Windscreen Mounted / Illegal Car Cams - Road Traffic Act 1988

Red zone = a 29cm wide band centered on the steering column and bounded top and bottom by the wiper swept area
Be warned, if you use a suction mounted car camera in the UK, if the device (camera and / or cradle and / or suction cup) intrudes more than 4cm into the secondary (pink) wiper clearance zone, or intrudes more than 1cm into the primary (red) wiper clearance zone of the windscreen, you are committing a serious traffic offence (dangerous driving) under the UK Road Traffic Act 1988, and your vehicle is not roadworthy (it would fail an MOT).

Also / in addition, if you use a car camera with an LCD screen, if the screen is on for any of the time while you are driving and you, the driver, can view that screen, you are also committing a serious traffic offence.

If someone has sold you a windscreen suction mounted car camera, they have a legal duty to ensure a) that the camera can actually be attached to a section of the windscreen of your particular vehicle which does not result in an unlawful intrusion of the primary (red) and / or secondary (pink) wiper clearance zone, b) that the screen does not remain on or visible to the driver and c) that you are aware of the law. If they sold you a suction mounted car camera without doing this, they have committed a crime. To find out how to return / report an unlawful suction mounted car camera, please see further below.

UK Law - Dangerous Driving
"In England and Wales and Scotland, a person guilty of dangerous driving is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both, or on summary conviction, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both."

"A person is to be regarded as driving dangerously for the purposes of sections 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 if
  • the way he/she drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous; or
  • if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state (for the purpose of the determination of which regard may be had to anything attached to or carried on or in it, and to the manner in which it is attached or carried) would be dangerous."
Source: Wikipedia Dangerous Driving

Determination / qualification / confirmation of "dangerous" falls upon / comes from the Ministry of Transport.
Obscurationsin Front Windscreens

Sellers of suction mounted car cameras should note the text; "Further to this, The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by Section 8 of the Road Traffic Act 1991) Part II, 40A, Using Vehicle in Dangerous Condition, states that: A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on the road when: (a) the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment,... is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person."

Further legislation comes under The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986;

30.—(3) All glass or other transparent material fitted to a motor vehicle shall be maintained in such condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road.

The Freight Transport Association of Great Britain clearly and simply state UK traffic law here.

In addition, car camera LCD screens can not legally be viewed by the driver!
Most of these unlawful suction cup mounted car cams are further made unlawful, even illegal, by token of the fact most, if not all provide an LCD TV screen which remains on, or which the default is on.

Please see Article 109 of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986

Windscreen Suction Cup Mounted Car Camera Sellers
UK sellers of these devices must disclose which vehicles their units can be lawfully used in. Legal use means the suction cup, cradle and camera must NOT intrude more than the 1cm/4cm limit into the wiper clearance zone of a vehicle, and any active LCD screen must NOT be visible to the driver. As the wiper clearance zone varies from vehicle to vehicle, the seller must physically test their car cameras to make sure it is possible, or to obtain specification on the wiper clearance zone from the vehicle manufacturer to be able to determine this. If they can not / do not disclose whether their units can be legally used in your particular vehicle's make and model, they are breaking the law by causing you to commit a motoring offense of dangerous driving. In addition, the seller of the car camera MUST explicitly make you aware of the fact the camera (suction cup, cradle and camera) must NOT intrude more than the 1cm/4cm limit into the wiper clearance zone of your vehicle, or again they are causing you to commit a traffic offense.

What to do if you have been sold a windscreen suction mounted car camera.
If you are not prepared to / can not use it legally outside the wiper clearance zone of your vehicle, perhaps because by doing so the video it takes is impaired by being in such a location / the dirty section of your windscreen, and if the seller has not sold the unit lawfully as above, then you can and perhaps should return the unit for a full refund. If you paid by PayPal or credit card, you can try to get the payment revoked on the basis the sale was fraudulently made under the Sale of Goods Act (that it was not suitable for the purpose for which it was sold). If you are outside the charge back time limit and the seller argues / refuses to refund, you can threaten them with a Trading Standards complaint, or you may want to make a Trading Standards complaint against them in any case. If you bought the item via eBay UK, the Trading Standards office that handles eBay UK complaints is Richmond upon Thames; click here.

Remember, you can be fined, get points on your license, lose your license and / or even go to jail for dangerous driving, which includes driving with an obscuration (obstruction) of the windscreen area. If you are involved in an accident, the very thing you hoped would give you legal evidence can easily be turned against you. If you take your vehicle to a MOT centre with an unlawful suction mounted car camera in place, your vehicle will fail its MOT.

If you want to use a car camera, make sure it is NOT windscreen suction mounted UNLESS it is guaranteed to be able to operate lawfully outside your particular vehicle's wiper clearance zone. Or, you can buy a dash mounted camera (again, make sure it does not obscure more than 1cm/4cm of the wiper cleared windscreen visibility area) or a visor mounted car camera.