Legalities of photographing a car accident?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by prodigy2k7, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I assume its legal to take pictures of a car accident? My girlfriend said she tried to take a picture of a car accident and a cop said if your not involved in the accident you cant take any pictures. I disagree but i am not certain. Any comments?
     
  2. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    I don't see how that can be true. What about all the times that News Channels video tape accidents from helicopters as they happen and afterward. They weren't "involved" either. I think you have a right in public to take a picture of anything you see.

    If that ever happened to me, I would have asked for the statute number of that law and told them that if they couldn't provide it and prevented me from shooting then they'd have a big lawsuit. I'd never actually sue them, but the threat would get them to back off if it wasn't actually a law. If it is actually a law they would have no problem giving me the statute number.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't be allowed...if it's in a public place. Although, failure to obey an order from a police officer can get you into trouble.
     
  4. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    I'd be willing to bet that failure to follow orders is only if you are breaking the law. If a police officer tells you to run a five miles in a skirt in the middle of the day, downtown, you wouldn't be in trouble for not doing so. They can only enforce the law and only (Legally) order you to do something if it is in regards to law breaking of some sort.
     
  5. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You're girlfriend got snubbed for not knowing her rights. You're allowed to photograph, but you're not allowed to be in the way of any emergency personell. So if she's shooting from the other side of the street and not in their way, then it's perfectly legal.

    Now the ethics are a different matter. Some people find it in poor taste, especially if you're just shooting for "fun". Of course, fun is in quotes because we know it's not fun to record other people's misery (supposedly), but if you're not planning on using the photos for anything people may accuse you of being a heartless bastard(ess) with no conscience.
     
  6. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Even though an officer ignorant of the laws could arrest you for not running file miles in a skirt if they wanted to.

    A man was arrested outside of a Best Buy in Ohio for not showing an officer his ID. He gave him all his information, but there's no law that states you're required to carry identification. He was cleared after showing in court with a lawyer, but that doesn't change the fact he was arrested for it.
     
  7. v1001

    v1001 TPF Noob!

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    More than likely they are just trying to get people to move on and not crowd the area. It was just a quick way of getting her away. You start getting tons of traffic slowing down, and tons of bystanders gathering they just need em to move on. Don't be so quick to not oblige and put up a fight. They are there to just help, thats their main concern. Her getting a good picture is rightly not high on the priority list.
     
  8. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is thread is basically the same as the numerous "photographer's rights" threads that popped up recently. Essentially, you are in the right but the officer always and I mean always has the upper hand. As VI and NateS put it so eloquently :) .... the cop can and will make for a very unpleasant experience. They can and will do everything in their power to maintain control of the situation.. using whatever means necessary. right/wrong is determined in court not on the streets.

    Two words... Disorderly Conduct.

    Yeh.. it will be dropped in court but after you spend an unpleasent few hours at the station. Trust me .. I know. and yes.. I hate it.
     
  9. mallard

    mallard TPF Noob!

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    if people get worried about ethics then you would have no more photojournalism.....especially covering any sort of war or crisis.
     
  10. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I remember that story. He actually has good grounds for a suit against the city. And that is why I would have still shot the accident. Ive shot several and recieved dirty looks from the officers but, never been told to stop. I was going to submit them the the local paper but they didnt want them because, there were no deaths associated with them. Talk about no ethics.
     
  11. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It all depends on where she was shooting from. If you are in the accident scene, well yes it is illegal because you are interfering with the investigation. They are conducting an investigation of what occurred because amazingly enough, people some times tend to exaggerate the facts and we want the truth. Debris, skid marks, etc. provide those facts. We do not want them disturbed.

    If she is outside of the scene, then unless she is blocking vehicular traffic or other pedestrians she is fine. Just keep in mind that what we consider the scene may be bigger than what you consider the scene. If a car strikes a light pole then the light pole and the ground around it is in the scene. Don't lean on the light pole. If she is where other pedestrians are walking etc, and they are not being shooed off, she is fine.

    I once had the beginning of a run in with an ambulance chasing lawyer. He heard the accident from his office and ran out to talk to the victims in one of the vehicles. Not to see if they were injured but to drum up business for a law suite. (They were not injured by the way, That was the first question we asked) He was hindering the investigation, there was paperwork to be filled out by all the people involved and statements to get. I instructed him to leave my scene. He advised that he was there to speak to his clients. First off they were not his clients, not yet at that point at least.

    I asked him if his "clients" were the suspects of a criminal activity and when he advised me no they were not, I concurred with his statement and again told him to get out of my scene now or he would go to jail for obstruction. I then reminded him that he had no constitutional right to speak to them at that time as the were not suspects of any criminal act. They were not in legal jeopardy.

    I then advised him I was going to list him as a witness if he continued to speak to them. He realized at that point that as a witness he and his firm could not represent them as it would be a conflict of interest. He left, we finished the accident investigation, the other guy got his tickets, (yep he deserved tickets in the plural for this one) everyone went on their way and that was the end of it.

    The news media showed up and took photos, no problem. They stayed out of the scene. I did politely remind the news paper photographer, (a friend of mine) that if he took a photo of me from the back side I had 620 FRIENDS that all had ticket books and they would all be waiting for him between where he was and his office. :lol: It was a wonderful profile shot in the paper the next day. :lmao:
     
  12. Easy_Target

    Easy_Target TPF Noob!

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    You're legally allowed to, but the cops don't like it. Why? In case you capture anything on film that contradicts the police testimony as to what happened. They claim that you're obstructing an investigation, which is complete and utter crap usually.

    http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/ma...e-undercover-officer-sparks-arres/?news-break

    Arrested for taking pictures of a police raid.

    http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=3015&art_id=vn20080609062905436C112919

    "We saw a lot of people there and the police started shooting rubber bullets at them. I took pictures and then one police officer dragged me into a van. I said I was a (Cape Times) photographer, but he didn't listen."

    http://flash.popphoto.com/blog/2007/11/the-crime-of-ph.html

    "Amateur photographer Bogdan Mohora was jailed in Seattle last year when he snapped a few photos of police officers arresting a man."


    http://www.tricities.com/tri/news/local/article/man_arrested_for_unlawful_photography/11576

    "The cell phone photographer says the arrest was intimidation, but the deputy says he feared for his life. “Here’s a guy who takes me out of the car and arrests me in front of my kids. For what? To take a picture of a police officer?” said Scott Conover.A Johnson County sheriff’s deputy arrested Scott Conover for unlawful photography. “He says you took a picture of me. It’s illegal to take a picture of a law enforcement officer,” said Conover."


    http://carlosmiller.com/

    Miller was beaten and arrested for taking pictures of cops.

    http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=801977

    "Local restrictions on photography in public places are legitimate the Home Secretary has stated in a letter to the National Union of Journalists."


    http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=104763

    Police tell him to go to press area. Cameraman asks where press area is. Police refuse to answer. Assault him on tape.

    http://glassbeadcollective.blip.tv/file/784711/

    NYC, police provoke, strong arm, arrest and beat critical mass cyclists. Police then proceed to intimidate, assault and arrest photographers for documenting the arrests/abuse of critical mass riders.

    http://www.myfoxdc.com/myfox/pages/...ale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1

    Security at D.C. train station prohibits people from taking pictures of the station because of policy. Amtrak official says that there is absolutely no rule that prohibits photography. Rent-a-cop comes up to Fox cameraman and tells him he's not allowed to take pictures inside the station, in front of Amtrak official who just said that there is no rule against taking photos.

    http://www.news9.com/global/video/f...chPageAdTag=News&activePane=info&rnd=88671427

    Photographer catches photos of car accident. Troopers throw him into squad car and arrest him after refusing to comply with their orders to delete the images.



    It's reasons like this that I plan on moving out of the United States.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008

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