States Where Radar Detectors Are Illegal 2022

How Radar Detectors Work

Radar is an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. Several vital components enable radar systems to detect distant objects: A frequency source that creates a low power signal at the operating frequency of the radar A radar transmitter that amplifies the power level of the signal from the sources A radar antenna used to broadcast or transmit the signal from the radar into the air A radar receiver that can detect a return signal that has bounced off of an object A radar signal/data processor, which translates the returned signal to identify objects, their distances, and their speeds Power supplies that provide power to each of the radar components

Video

How Police Locate Radar Detectors using Radar Detector Detectors:

In order to locate radar detectors in banned areas, police use specially designed devices called radar detector detectors (RDD’s).

Here’s a quick video showing you the Spectre Elite radar detector detector in action in several different scenarios. You’ll see me pick out 3 different cars running radar detectors, the first is a car driving towards me, the second is approaching and passing me from behind, and then a third is where I hunt and locate a radar detector in heavy traffic.

Most radar detectors can be detected like this, with a few notable exceptions…

Legal Considerations

Most people consider radar detectors a valuable and useful tool for drivers, but many arguments are made against them. The most common reasons people are against radar detectors are because they feel they encourage distracted and reckless driving and they encourage speeding. Some opponents of radar detectors believe that drivers are more likely to follow posted speed limit signs when they do not have a radar detector.

The laws about radar detectors vary from state to state and country to country. Before you buy one, it’s a good idea to learn a little more about the legal aspects of having a radar detector, not only in the state where you live but in the nearby areas you travel to.

Radar Detectors Myths

  • Are They Illegal? – According to Texas State law, radar detectors are only illegal on commercial vehicles are but perfectly legal for passenger vehicles.
  • They Don’t Work in Bad Weather – False, modern radar detectors have the technology to detect police radar during any weather.
  • Radar Jammers and Radar Detectors are the same thing – False. Radar Jammers can disable police radar so they can be considered illegal in some areas.

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Radar Detectors on Military Bases

According to the Department of Defense instructions, persons are strictly prohibited from using radar or laser detection devices on military bases. Department of Defense, DoD Instruction 6055.04, DOD TRAFFIC SAFETY PROGRAM pg. 12 (2013).

What About Radar Jammers?

Radar jammers or scramblers are illegal in all 50 states because they interfere with the broad signal law enforcement uses to target speeding vehicles, but they can even cause problems for airplanes. Federal law (Section 333 of the Communication Act of 1934) describes radar jammers as a “malicious interference” and even a first offense can result in heavy fines and jail time.

Radar Detector Laws in Europe

Like individual states, each European country has its own laws regarding radar detectors. Some places ban them altogether while others allow you to own one but not to use it.

For example, in Bulgaria, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Romania, it’s legal to own and use a radar detector. But, in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Serbia, and Sweden, owning and using one are both illegal.

Safety First

A radar detector can be considered a tool that alerts a driver of police or EMS units traveling in the near area.  As we know police and EMS tend to drive with a sense of urgency so being aware of their near by presence can help you take extra caution on the road.  A radar with a GPS can also help you by alerting you of major changes in speed limits known as speed traps.  Radar alerts use GPS to alarm you of a approached marked locations.  This alert can prompt you as a driver to reduce your speed in a safe and timely manner.  All in all, radar detectors can be utilized as a tool to monitor one’s speed limit. As always we recommend you follow the speed limit and always stay alert on the road.

Are suction cup mounts on windows legal?

One question that is often submitted to our support department is, “While I know radar detectors are legal to use in my area, isn’t it illegal to mount anything on my windshield?”

This is a good question, and the rules for this vary from state to state. In California and Minnesota, it is technically illegal to hang anything on the windshield which may obstruct the driver’s view. This is not often enforced, but it is possible that if you come across a law enforcement officer in a bad mood you will be cited for it.

(Radenso Pro M using the slick Pro Series visor mo

(Radenso Pro M using the slick Pro Series visor mount)

Pro Tip: If you want to be absolutely safe, many manufacturers offer a visor mount that allows the radar detector to hang on the car’s sun visor.

Other Important Things To Know About Radar Detectors in Virginia

In Virginia, it is essential to keep in mind regarding the use of radar detectors is that they only detect one method that law enforcement uses to detect speeding vehicles. In fact, now with the technology available, there are a lot of laser detectors as well which will not help you.

Additionally, having a radar detector will not help you try to get out of a speeding ticket and have no impact on the various other ways that officers detect speeding including pacing.

Another important thing to remember is that the device may not be accessible to the driver even if it is unplugged or broken. This is the biggest mistake that is seen as often times people believe that if you unplug the device or if it is broken then you cannot be charged with having a radar detector illegally. The law, however, is a little bit different; it states that it cannot be accessible to anyone in the vehicle and has to be turned off and disconnected from any power source.

This means that unless your detector is completely inaccessible to you, it is possible for you to be charged with a violation even if it does not work.

Are radar detectors legal?

RELATED: 3 Best Radar Detectors Money Can Buy

Some car modifications are illegal, but radar detectors usually aren’t one of them. However, a few factors determine whether radar detectors are legal. According to AAA, Virginia is the only U.S. state that outright bans them. Also, Washington, D.C., and military bases don’t allow them. 

But all other states allow radar detectors’ use in passenger vehicles and light trucks. However, they’re not permitted in commercial vehicles, per a U.S. Department of Transportation rule. 

Though radar detectors are legal in most states, a few don’t allow radar- or laser-jamming equipment. Jammers emit signals to interfere with police radar or laser guns. States that don’t allow these devices include Minnesota, Oklahoma, California, Colorado, Texas, and others.

Interestingly, at least 28 states ban suction cups for hanging items on the interior windshield. That includes any device, even radar detectors. Seven other states go by the size of the object to determine whether the suction cups are banned. The main reason for this law is to prevent distractions and anything interfering from your line of sight while driving. 

Summary Recommendations

In most states, it’s legal to have a radar detector or laser jammer in your car, except for Virginia and Washington D.C. Under federal law, radar detectors are illegal in any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds or on any military base.

Radar detectors can help you avoid a speeding ticket, but you don’t have to spend a lot to get a nice, reliable unit. Check out our list of the best radar detectors under $200 and the best radar detectors on the market.

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