Having a reliable radar detector in your car can help you avoid speeding tickets. But since these devices are a way of avoiding trouble with the law, are they even completely legal? You don’t want to end up adding another violation to your ticket.
So, we answer the question: is it illegal to have a radar detector?
The legality of having a radar detector depends on your location. Radar detectors are usually legal in the US. As a driver, you’re allowed to have a radar detector in your car, but this rule exempts commercial drivers and military bases.
Radar jammers are the illegal ones, particularly because the federal law bans the use of these gadgets. If the police find out that you’re using a radar jammer, it could lead to charges, hefty fines, and even jail time in any state.
Going back to radar detectors, it is a common device that drivers mount on their windshield or dash. However, different states and countries would still have varying laws about this police detecting rig.
Radar Detector Laws in the World
When questioning the legality of radar detectors in general, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Like any other law, the rules vary in different parts of the world. So if you’re a frequent traveller from country to country, or even just state to state, you might want to do a little bit of research.
If not, your effort to avoid speeding tickets might get you into worse traffic violations. Especially if you’re outside of your state, these violations can lead to fines, radar detector destruction, license withdrawal, and jail time.
To save you the hassle of digging into law documents, we’ve done the legwork for you. Here are some of the vital information and laws involving radar detectors.
Radar Detector Laws in Europe
In Europe, the laws on the possession and use of radar detectors are different for each country. Some allow the possession of the gadget but not the use, and others completely forbid the ownership of the device.
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, and Spain are some of the countries that don’t allow drivers to own and use radar detectors. For complete info, here’s a quick map that will help you go over the different laws per country in Europe:
Radar Detector Laws in Canada
In Canada, having and using radar detectors vary per state. But for the majority of the states, radar detectors are banned. This goes the same for other devices that can warn against speed guns used by traffic enforcers.
British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan are some states that allow radar detectors. On the other hand, radar detectors are illegal in these states: Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory, and Northwest Territory.
For the three states that allow the use of radar detectors, mounting devices in your windshield would be no problem at all. However, if you are in any other place, you might want to conceal your device. But take note that if you are caught, your detector will be confiscated and you’ll be fined.
Radar Detector Laws in the United States
Generally speaking, using radar detectors is allowed in the U.S. because they’re designed to warn a driver to slow down. The main goal of speed limits is to make drivers drive slower. Radar detectors do the same thing.
For the United States of America, it is easier to determine if having and using a radar detector is legal. So if you live in the U.S., you might want to know if it is illegal to have a radar detector in your state.
While laws may vary, only Washington DC and Virginia ban the use of radar detectors in the current laws. For all other states, ownership and use of radar detectors are allowed in private vehicles.
So if you live anywhere else aside from DC and Virginia, you have the freedom of driving with radar detectors without being worried about officers and cops confiscating your device or giving you a penalty.
In the case of radar jammers, there are different laws in place as well. Sometimes, they may be legal to own but illegal to use.
But moving forward, here’s a quick list of districts/states/areas in the US and the radar detector laws they have:
Radar Detector Laws in Alabama (AL)
Alabama is one of the states that don’t ban radar detectors. The state of Alabama deems the use of radar detectors legal, and it’s okay to possess and operate them in passenger vehicles.
However, radar detectors are illegal/not allowed for commercial vehicles under the federal law.
Radar Detector Laws in New York State (NYS)
Are radar detectors and laser detectors legal to use in NY? Yes, radar detectors are legal in NYS. However, a radar detector or a laser detector is illegal in commercial vehicles. To be more specific, it’s not allowed in any motor vehicle with a weight of more than 18,000 lbs.
Laser jammers are unauthorized and banned by federal law as well.
Radar Detector Laws in New Jersey (NJ)
Are radar detectors legal or illegal in New Jersey? Yes, they are allowed in this state.
But similar to most states on this list, New Jersey also doesn’t allow the possession and use of radar detectors in commercial vehicles. And while radar detectors are allowed, radar and laser jammers are prohibited under federal rule.
Radar Detector Laws in Ohio (OH)
Ohio gives legal permission to own and use a radar detector for private cars. However, like for the rest of the US, both radar detectors and laser jammers are illegal for commercial vehicles.
Radar Detector Laws in Georgia (GA)
Georgia is also one of the states that don’t ban radar detectors. The state of Georgia authorizes the use of radar detectors for passenger vehicles, making it 100% legal to own and use.
However, laser jammers are illegal and unauthorized in Georgia.
Radar Detector Laws in Arizona (AZ)
Are radar detectors allowed in Arizona? Yes, Arizona is one of the states that don’t ban the use of radar detectors. But while they’re allowed for passenger vehicles, they’re illegal in commercial ones like big trucks. Radar and laser jammers, on the other hand, are completely banned in the state of Arizona.
Radar Detector Laws in Colorado (CO)
Radar detectors are not illegal in Colorado. They are perfectly legal and allowed to use. However, laser jammers are outlawed and unauthorized according to the federal and Colorado state law.
Radar Detector Laws in Michigan (MI)
Are radar detectors legal in Michigan? Yes, private vehicles are allowed to use this device.
However, just like any other state, Michigan prohibits the use of radar detectors in commercial vehicles. Laser and Radar jammers are banned by federal law as well, and therefore not permitted in Michigan.
Radar Detector Laws in Texas (TX)
Are radar detectors illegal in Texas? No, normal vehicles can use radar detectors as long as they’re not commercial ones like big trucks.
And like any other state, Texas bans the use of radar jammers as well. This is in accordance with federal law. If you’re only going to use a radar detector in Texas, you’ll be fine.
Radar Detector Laws in California (CA)
While it is 100% legal to use and own a radar detector in California, mounting one on your vehicle’s windshield is illegal and not allowed. You may actually end up with a ticket if you do this.
So in answer to the question, “Are radar detectors legal in California?” the answer is yes. However, don’t mount them on the windshield.
Radar Detector Laws in Florida (FL)
Like most of the states, Florida laws allow the use of radar detectors in avoiding speed traps. However, while radar detectors are legal in private cars, they’re illegal and unauthorized in commercial vehicles. To be more specific, they’re banned in vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
Also, radar and laser jammers are prohibited under Florida law and federal law as well.
Radar Detector Laws in Pennsylvania (PA)
Are radar detectors allowed in Pennsylvania? Yes, radar detectors are allowed in passenger vehicles but not in commercial vehicles. But like more states, radar and LIDAR jammers are illegal and unauthorized in the state of Pennsylvania too.
Radar Detector Laws in Washington (WA)
Washington D.C has slightly different laws, but are radar detectors illegal in this state?
Yes, the possession of radar detectors in your vehicle is illegal in Washington DC. So if you’re planning to drive through this state, just leave your radar detector at home.
Radar Detector Laws in Illinois (IL)
Radar detectors are legal in Illinois, except for commercial vehicles. But if you’re just a regular private vehicle driver, you’re completely allowed to use a radar detector in this state.
However, laser jammers and radar jammers aren’t allowed.
Radar Detector Laws in Maryland (MD)
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, radar detectors are allowed and legal in Maryland – as long as you’re a private vehicle driver. The use of radar or laser speed detectors is illegal in all commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Laser Jammers are banned and outlawed in this state as well.
For radar detector laws on the rest of the states, check out Drivinglaws.
Additional Conditions on Legality of Radar Detectors in the US in 2020
It’s important to note that while radar detectors are allowed in most U.S states, there are other factors concerning the legality of radar detectors. Some of these factors include military bases, commercial vehicles, and windshield mounting.
Read on to know more details about radar detector laws in these aspects.
Is it illegal to have a radar detector if you work in a military base?
Using a radar detector is generally allowed, but using it in a military base is strictly forbidden. This applies to all visible radar detectors, as there are hidden radar detectors.
If you work in a military base, or you are planning to enter one, you must remove your radar detector.
Most of the time, an officer will ask you to remove it so you won’t be fined. Due to the fact all military bases have checkpoints, you can’t enter into a base with a radar detector. Remember that hiding a radar detector and entering the base is breaking the law.
Is it illegal to have a radar detector in a commercial vehicle?
Using a radar detector is strictly forbidden in all commercial vehicles that weigh 10.000 pounds or more. These drivers are treated as professional drivers, so different laws apply to them. In this case, there are no exceptions. The laws about radar detectors in private passenger cars and small trucks are different, but even for private vehicles, there are some actions you are not allowed to do.
Is it illegal to have a radar detector in your car?
Unless you are the driver of a big truck or commercial vehicle (under the federal law), it is completely allowed to have a radar detector in your car. Radar jammers, unlike laser speed detectors, are illegal and therefore banned in your car. That’s regardless of where it’s mounted.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid red-light cameras instead, another option instead of radar detectors is license plate blocking tools.
Is it illegal to have a radar detector mounted on your car windshield?
In most states, installing a radar detector on a windshield is fine. However, there are some states like California and Minnesota that treat this as breaking the law, due to the fact it affects the driver’s line of sight.
So, if you are planning to travel these mentioned states, keeping your radar detector off the windshield is something you must do.
It is recommended to install it on your dash or the sun visor. Cops always see a radar detector on a windshield, so a ticket and violation might easily come your way. Good thing, there are radar detectors that are designed to be concealed, so a cop won’t even notice them.
On the other hand, things like police scanners are legal – as they’re only used to listen in to communications.
Radar Jammer Laws
While a radar jammer is different from a radar detector, it’s helpful to know the laws about it too. This is especially because the two devices are often used together to avoid speeding tickets.
But while a radar detector simply notifies you when a speed gun is around, a radar jammer is designed to interfere with the police radars and prevent them from detecting your current speed.
So, is it illegal to have a radar detector and a radar jammer at the same time?
Using the radar detector is allowed, but using a radar jammer is strictly forbidden. Most drivers use both devices, due to the fact they are more effective when used together. You should know that radar jammer has a certain effect on law enforcement equipment and on air traffic control (on radars air companies use). This means that they work in a completely different way than radar detectors.
Radar detectors are awesome driving gadgets when you’re keen to avoid speeding violations. There are lots of options in the market today, including these under $300 radar detector options.
As for jammers, they are usually installed as hidden devices so cops can’t see them. However, they will notice that they cannot determine your current speed. And as a result, you will be checked for these devices. If you’re caught using radar jammers, you’ll likely end up with an expensive fine and also confiscation of the device.
Radar jammers and laser jammers are forbidden in all states and unlawful under the federal law.
For specific laws, 41 states allow the use of radar detectors. As for radar and laser jammers, their use is banned by these states: Texas, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Colorado, and Tennessee.
Radar detectors are legal in those states, excluding Virginia. Radar detectors are also prohibited for big trucks in some states like Illinois and New York.
Before you even buy the perfect radar detector for your needs, you should ask if it’s illegal to have a radar detector in your country or your state. The same goes for radar and laser jammers, too.
Specific rules including mounting of the device are important to research as well, especially when it might cost you bigger fines or even suspension of license. So make sure that a part of your radar detector hunt involves the legality surrounding it for you to fully enjoy its benefits.
Now, if you already got a ticket, you might think about taking traffic school. You can also check our article about the best traffic school online.