Many Florida drivers might not be aware that their car may have a “black box” designed to capture information just prior to an accident.
In 2012, 96 percent of cars had an event data recorder (EDR) installed by the auto manufacturer according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The U.S. Congress mandated that all vehicles built starting in 2015 were required to have EDRs.
The EDR records data from a vehicle seconds before, during, and after a crash.
The data is used by the NHTSA and car manufacturers to help aid in auto safety research.
In recent years, law enforcement has begun using EDR data in criminal cases.
Additionally, attorneys have used EDR data in civil cases.
The use of the data has spurred many Fourth Amendment discussions. The question is should car owners have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding this data?
A Florida state court decision (State v. Worsham) stated that a warrant was required for black box data used in a criminal case. The ruling recognized that the black box contained private data that the car driver should have a reasonable expectation to remain private.
However, a Georgia court decision upheld a warrantless search in a similar case.
Other state courts seem to come down on both sides of the issue.
However, under the Driver Privacy Act of 2015, Congress stated that EDR data is the property of the vehicle’s owner.
When it comes to EDR data and questions of privacy rights, an attorney can be an invaluable help to interpret the law for specific legal situations.
We’ll go into further details regarding EDRs and your privacy rights in Florida below.
If you’re facing criminal charges or a personal injury situation due to a vehicle accident, Fusco Law Group can provide you with reliable and knowledgeable legal representation.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Fusco Law Group at (904) 567-3113.
Frequently Asked Questions about Car Black Boxes (Event Data Recorder) and Your Florida Privacy Rights in 2020
What Does a Car Black Box (Event Data Recorder) Record?
Car black boxes (event data recorders) record data approximately 5 seconds before, during, and after an accident. The device records 15 data points including the speed of the vehicle, seatbelt use, brake application, steering angles, and airbag deployment.
Who Owns the Data Collected by a Car Black Box (Event Data Recorder)?
The federal Driver Privacy Act of 2015 stated that the owner or lessee of a motor vehicle is the owner of the data collected by an event data recorder (EDR).
EDR data may be assessed by a person other than the owner or lessee in five circumstances:
- Pursuant to a court or administrative order
- With the consent of the owner or lessee
- Pursuant to an investigation of a motor vehicle accident by the Secretary of the Treasury or the National Safety Board, provided personally identifiable information is not disclosed
- For the purpose of emergency medical response to a vehicle crash
- For traffic safety research, provided personally identifiable information is not disclosed
How Useful is Data from Car Black Box (Event Data Recorder) in a Court Case?
Event data recorder (EDR) information has been used in both criminal and civil court cases. Basically, EDR data is one part of a set of evidence used in court cases. In the case where there are no witnesses, EDR information can help provide additional facts in a case.
However, the device only records a few seconds of data and may not be a complete picture of the events leading up to the accident. Driver behavior such as speeding up to avoid a potential accident may not be included in the data.
Do Floridians have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy with Car Black Box (Event Data Recorder) Information?
A Florida appeals court ruled that a warrant is required to seize event data recorder information. The court recognized that the device contained private information that the car owner or lessee has a reasonable expectation to be private.
Get the Legal Help You Need
As you can see, laws involving car accidents can be vague regardless if you’re facing a criminal charge or a personal injury case.
Enlisting the guidance of an experienced Fusco Law Group Attorney can help you understand your position and develop a game plan for the best possible outcome in your situation.
Contact the Fusco Law Group: (904) 567-3113 for a free consultation.