How to Get Traffic Video Footage?

Freedom of Information Act Request to Any Government Agency

This is the most common question PhotoEnforced.com receives on a daily basis from drivers who were in car accidents.  We have requested several of our readers to give us feedback on their success obtaining traffic video footage through an FOIA and they have been successful in several cities. 

PhotoEnforced.com now has become the largest public database map of traffic camera locations in the World through lots of hard work and a huge community of thousands of daily users contributing all different kinds of camera locations on a map.  

What kind of camera is this and which agency operates the camera?  

DOT Traffic Camera

Police Red Light Camera

City Surveillance Camera

Were you in a car accident or involved in a hit and run?   

Intersection traffic camera locations are growing rapidly and it is not always easy to locate them.  It is becoming a lot more common for a driver involved in an accident to need additional proof for insurance purposes.  It is amazing how often the driver at fault will change their story once they know the significance of the liability of the accident.  Having video footage can provide the additional proof that insurance companies need to prove which driver was at fault.  PhotoEnforced.com provides a map so you can easily search and find the type of traffic or red light camera at any intersection.   

How easy is it to obtain a copy of this footage?  

There are many traffic video cameras along highways, toll roads, red lights and even on city buses. While there are many reasons why these cameras exist (e.g., law enforcement, monitoring traffic congestion, license plate recognition, asset tracking), understand which Government agency operates the cameras is usually the most difficult task.  There are over 8,000 different municipalities in the United States and knowing which agency operates the camera will help you save lots of time before doing a FOIA request.  Some cameras are owned by the State, City or County and operated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or police.   

How much time do you have before the video is destroyed?  

There is no standard time but I am hearing that these agencies are keeping video for as little as 14 days.  So it is recommended that you don't wait longer than 10 days to request the video.  There is no harm in asking for a copy of the video, but they may likely deny your request simply because they do not want to put the time into tracking down the relevant portion of video. 

Who should I contact?  

I would start by contacting the local police and the Department of Transportation first.  It always helps doing this face-to-face at the local city offices or police station if you can.   Ask the clerk or office for a freedom of information act request form. 

Please comment and send your feedback below . . . 

We are looking to build a database of contacts to expedite FOIA requests in the future.  Any help or ideas you might have are greatly appreciated. 

Here is a story of one such individual in Illinois recently.  Based on this don't take no for an answer and you must be persistent.  
Hey Jeff,I just wanted to say thanks again for informing me that I needed to get the Freedom of Information Act request form. I want to give you a little story of what I went through so hopefully I'll post it on your blog so others don't have to jump through the Hoops I did. 
I was involved in a hit-and-run accident where there was red light cameras. The officer that took the report said that he would have them scan the footage and see what they find. Five to seven days later he called and left a voicemail at around 6:25 in the morning stating there was nothing on the video. So I went into the police department asked the person behind the counter if I can obtain video footage of the camera for a hit-and-run accident and they informed me no I cannot. That I went home and Google searched red light camera photo enforcement and I found your website, emailed you and you replied back quickly and informed me to go in the police station and ask for a Freedom of Information Act request form for that camera for that date and around the time. I did go back to the police station ask the same person for a Freedom of Information Act request form for the red light camera and they informed me to go down to the clerk's office 40 feet away and get the request form from them. I asked them why they couldn't just tell me to go get a request form when I asked them that I needed the video footage they just looked at me with a Blank Stare. So bottom line, if you ever get in an accident and there are cameras there and the police tell you there is no way to obtain them then ask them for a freedom of information request form for that camera.

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