Is It Illegal to Have a Radar Detector in 2018

Expensive speeding tickets and traffic violations have been easier to avoid in the past years, especially with the better availability of radar detectors. It’s easier to buy them in big box stores or order them online, they come in all forms and prices, some are even really affordable, too.

It’s not that hard to find information, purchase and install a radar detector to your private car. However, it isn’t that easy to determine whether owning or using radar detectors are against the law or not. “Is it illegal to have a radar detector?”

While radar detectors are usually legal in the US, except for commercial drivers and military bases, radar jammers are actually illegal because of the federal law. Actually, using radar jammer is way more risky as it could lead to charges, hefty fine and even jail time in any state where you’re using this device.

Radar Detector Laws in the World

It might seem like quite be a simple question answerable by yes or no. But it isn’t that plain. Like any other law, the question of radar detector legality varies at different parts of the world. So, for those travelling from country to country, or even just state to state, you might want to ask the question more often. Or else, your effort to avoid speeding ticket might get you into worse traffic violations that can lead to fines, radar detector destruction, license withdrawal, and jail time.

Here are some of the vital information you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the laws involving radar detectors.

Radar Detector Laws in Europe

In Europe, the laws on radar detector possession and use are different for each country. While some allow possession of the gadget but not the use, other countries are strict and don’t allow anyone to own a radar detector. Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, and Spain are just some of the countries that do not allow drivers to own and use radar detectors, and there are a lot more. Here’s a quick map that will help you quickly go over the different laws per country in Europe:

Europe radar detector laws map


Radar Detector Laws in Canada

In Canada, having and using radar detectors vary per state, with British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan allowing them. However, for the majority of the states, radar detectors and other devices that can warn about traffic enforcers’ speed gun are banned. These states that deem radar detectors illegal are the following: Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory and Northwest Territory.

For the three states that allow 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 device will be confiscated and you will be fined.

Radar Detector Laws in the United States

Is it illegal to have a radar detector in my state
In general, using radar detectors is allowed, because they are designed to warn a driver so he/she can slow down. The main goal of speeding ticket 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 from state to state, for current radar detectors laws, only Washington DC and Virginia ban the use of radar detectors. For all other states, ownership and use of radar detectors are allowed in private vehicles. So if you don’t live in the two exception counties, you would have the freedom to be assisted by radar detectors during your drives without being worried of police officers and cops. Continue reading to check out the quick list of states in the US where radar detectors are legal or illegal:

Radar Detector Laws in Alabama (AL)

Alabama is one of the states that doesn’t ban radar detectors. The state of Alabama deems the use of radar detectors legally for passenger vehicles. However, it’s illegal/not allowed for commercial vehicles to use this device. Our 2nd state is New York – are radar detectors and laser detectors legal to use in NY?

Radar Detector Laws in New York State (NYS)

In New York State (NYS), radar detectors are legal and permitted to use. However, radar detectors are prohibited to use in any commercial vehicles with a gross weight ( GVWR) exceeding 10,000 lbs. According to section 397-a of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, a radar detector or a laser detector is prohibited in any private vehicle with weight of more than 18,000 lbs. Radar/Laser Jammers are banned by the federal law, no exception in this case. Our next state is NJ – are radar detectors legal or illegal in New Jersey?

Radar Detector Laws in New Jersey (NJ)

For New Jersey, radar detectors are perfectly legal, as long as they aren’t and/or don’t include radar jammers. This is important to note since radar jammers are prohibited and not allowed for the whole country.

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 one of the states that doesn’t ban radar detectors. The state of Georgia deems the use of radar detectors for passenger vehicles, making it 100% legal to own and use a radar detector. However, it’s illegal/not allowed for commercial vehicles to use this device in Georgia, in US.

Radar Detector Laws in Arizona (AZ)

Arizona is one of the states that doesn’t ban radar detectors. The state of Arizona deems the use of radar detectors legally for passenger vehicles. However, radar detectors and laser jammers aren’t legal for commerical vehicles. Our next state on the list is Colorado – are police radar detectors legal in Colorado or using them is violation of the law?

Radar Detector Laws in Colorado (CO)

Radar jammers and radar detectors are not allowed in Colorado under the federal rule. Laser jammers are also prohibited in Colorado due to specific state law. There are ten states who are specifically banning laser jammers: California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Radar detectors are not banned in the above mentioned states (Excluding Virginia) and are perfectly legal. Time for our next state, so, are radar detectors legal in Michigan?

Radar Detector Laws in Michigan (MI)

Private vehicles are allowed to have and use radar detectors in Michigan as they are legal there. However, just like any other state, radar detectors are illegal in commerial vehicles. Laser and Radar jammers are banned by federal rule and therefore not permitted.

Radar Detector Laws in Texas (TX)

In Texas, using radar detectors is allowed on every vehicle but they are not permitted on commercial vehicles. But again, radar jammers are not legal under the federal law in any state and they are also prohibited under state law in Texas. Our next state is California, are radar detectors legal in California or you should be worried when you see a cop/police offer?

Radar Detector Laws in California (CA)

The legality of radar detectors in California is not really odd. California doesn’t outlaw radar detectors like most of the states, so radar detectors are absolutely legal in California and it is legal to have a radar detector in passengers car and small trucks. However, radar detectors are illegal in commerical vehicles or if they are mounted on the windshield of private cars and small trucks. Radar jammers are prohibited by the federal law and therefore 100% unallowed/illegal not only in your car but just everywhere. After California, are police avoidance equipment like radar detectors and LIDAR illegal or legal in Florida?

Radar Detector Laws in Florida (FL)

Like most of the states, Florida allows the use of radar detectors legally for drivers; however, it’s important to note that even that radar detectors are not illegal and you can have them, it can be used against the driver as evidence in a criminal traffic case. In addition, radar detectors are not permitted in commerical vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. You can’t have any kind of radar or laser jammers, as they are banned by the federal law in Florida. Our next state is Pennsylvania – are radar detectors legally allowed in Pennsylvania?

Radar Detector Laws in Pennsylvania (PA)

Radar detectors are legal in Pennsylvania and therefore allowed for passenger vehicles, however, they are banned in commerical vehicles. Radar and laser jammers are not legal in Pennsylvania. Washington D.C. have slightly different laws, but are radar detectors actually illegal in Washington?

Radar Detector Laws in Washington (WA)

Within the state of Washington, the use of radar detectors in passenger vehicles is legally accepted and absolutely allowed. On the contrary, it is illegal for commercial vehicles to use radar detectors in Washington D.C. Next on our list is Illinois, are police radar detectors legal or illegal in Illinois?

Radar Detector Laws in Illinois (IL)

Police Radar detectors are allowed and legal in Illinois for private vehicles in all of the states except Virginia and Washington, D.C. Radar jammers are illegal in all of the states, for any driver. Commerical vehicles drivers are not allowed to use police radar detectors, radar jammers and laser jammers in Illinois, Missouri and any other state in the US. The last state on our list in Maryland, do you think that radar detectors are legal and not banned in the state of Maryland?

Radar Detector Laws in Maryland (MD)

Radar detectors are legally allowed in Maryland, as Maryland doesn’t specifically banning radar detectors. However, due to its proximity to Washington D.C and Virginia (Northern Virginia and West Virginia), which both of those states outlawed radar detector, drivers are advised to be careful if they are close to their area as radar detectors are illegal there. Under the federal law, the use of radar or laser speed detectors is illegal in all commerical vehicles more than 10,000 pounds.

For the laws of rest of the states, check out Drivinglaws.


Additional Conditions on Legality of Radar Detectors in the US in 2018

radar detector caught by officer
It’s important to note that while the general use of laws for private vehicles in different U.S. states is easy to remember, there are other factors concerning the legality of radar detectors. Some of these factors that would affect whether or not radar detector is legal include military bases, commercial vehicles, and windshield mounting. Read on to know more details about these factors.

Is it illegal to have a radar detector if you work in a military base?

As you already now, using radar detector is generally allowed. However, using it in a military base is strictly forbidden! This applies on all radar detectors that are visible (there are hidden radar detectors). If you work in a military base, or you are planning to enter into it, you must remove your radar detector.

A good thing is that an officer will ask for you to remove it, so you won’t be fined. Due to the fact all military bases have checkpoints, you cannot 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?

Is it illegal to have a radar detector in a truck or in a bus? It is strictly forbidden using a radar detector in all commercial vehicles that have a weight of 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.

Is it illegal to have a radar detector mounted on your car windshield?

In most states installing a radar detector on a windshield is treated as breaking a law, due to the fact it affects the driver’s line of sight. Some states that are strict about mounting devices in the windshield include California and Minnesota. So, if you are planning to travel across different states, keeping your radar detector off the windshield is something you must do.

It is recommended to install it on your dash or on 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.


Radar Jammer Laws

Is it illegal to have a radar jammer in my state

While a radar jammer is different from a radar detector, it is quite helpful to know the laws about it too. This is especially because the two devices are often used together to have security from speeding tickets. A radar jammer is a device 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?

In general, only using radar detector is usually allowed. On the other hand, 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 jammers has a certain effect on police equipment and on air traffic control (on radars air companies use). This means that they work on completely different way than radar detectors.

Jammers are usually installed as hidden devices, so cops cannot see them. However, they will notice that they cannot determine your current speed! As a result, you will be checked for these devices. And if caught using radar jammers, you’ll likely end up with an expensive fine and also confiscation.

Radar jammers are forbidden in all states and unlawful under the federal law. Using radar jammers will result in an expensive fine and also confiscation. However, laser jammers are not prohibited.

For specific radar detector laws, there are 41 states that allow their use, while ten states have state laws banning laser jammers: Texas, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Colorado and Tennessee. Radar detectors are actually legal in those states excluding Virginia. Radar detectors are also prohibited for big trucks in some states like Illinois and New York.


The takeaway

radar detectors illegal sign
Radar detectors are awesome driving gadgets to have, especially when you’re keen to avoid speeding violations. But it’s important that before you even choose and buy the perfect radar detector for your needs, you ask is it illegal to have a radar detector in your country or your state. Same goes with radar and laser jammers, too.
Specific rules including mounting of the device are important to research on 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 perks and benefits.

Now, after you know the radar detector laws, you should just check if it worths it: