Are Radar Detectors Legal To Use or Not? – Best Radar Detector 2019

Would you like to avoid getting speeding tickets? Ever thought of getting a radar detector? Well, once you learn where are radar detectors legal, then you can start saving your money on tickets. Radar detectors have been available for many years and follow different trends of popularity. Some people are hesitant to buy one for they find themselves wondering, “Are radar detectors legal?” This article should help answer this question and shed more light on radar detectors

What Is a Radar Detector?

A radar detector is an electronic device that you put in your car and it picks up the signal from a police radar gun. This signal is known as a frequency and the radar detector is programmed to detect this and alert you by sounding off an alarm. This alarm indicates that an officer is in your area or in the direction you are going.

What Are Radar Detectors Used For?

A radar detector usually sits on the top of your dashboard or attaches to your visor and looks ahead of your car to detect any law enforcement using radar guns to track your speed. Having this device gives you a chance to slow down and prevents you from getting a ticket. This is helpful not only if you are going at excessive speeds but also a little over the speed limit laws.

How Do Radar Detectors Work?

Radar detectors work by monitoring for specific frequencies that law enforcement use to track your speed. Just like there are radio wave frequencies and cell phone frequencies, there is a specific frequency that radar guns use. The guns send out a beam that bounces off your vehicle and comes back to the officer. Based on how fast the signal returns, the device can calculate your speed and they are very accurate. The radar detector scans for the different frequencies used by these devices and alerts you when it senses one.

Do I Need a Radar Detector?

Usually, people purchase radar detectors because they do a lot of driving and want the extra protection from costly speeding tickets. Maybe you have a long commute or travel down long stretches of highway. A radar detector can provide some early warning when your attention moves away from the speedometer and your speed exceeds the posted limits.

Obviously, we are not suggesting that radar detectors should be used to break the law, however, they can be very valuable in terms of an early warning, just in case you are exceeding the speed limit or coming up on a speed trap.

In some cases, you may also have “speed traps” around your neighborhood where the posted limit abruptly changes to a lower speed and many people suddenly find themselves going too fast. This is an ideal place for law enforcement to set up and wait for you to drive by and then write you a ticket. Using a radar detector can help to alert you to this type of activity by flashing or beeping when it senses any speed tracking devices ahead of you.

Are Radar Detectors Expensive?

Radar detectors can be expensive depending upon which model you choose. You don’t have to purchase the most expensive ones because they all detect the radar frequency but within different distances. Here are some name brands you can choose from:

  • Escort
  • Cobra
  • Valentine One
  • Beltronics

The more expensive radar detectors range from $200 to $450. These are helpful because they can pick up weaker signals from as far away as 1,000 feet or more. The less expensive radar detectors range between $40 and $100. Should you buy a cheaper model, you will be sacrificing accuracy in the readout, clarity, and other benefiting features. These will work to detect the frequency of a radar gun, but you might consider updating if you are a long-distance traveler.

Some features to look for:

  • Rear and forward-facing antennas
  • Large and easy-to-see buttons
  • Stealth features like a radar detector detection
  • App for your smartphone to control the radar detector

Before you even consider purchasing one you need to know the answer to the question, “Are radar detectors legal?” in your state. All states are different as far as their laws, but you find that there are commonalities regarding radar detectors and their regulations.

Are Radar Detectors Legal in the US and in Which States Are They Prohibited?

Knowing if radar detectors are legal in your state might seem like an easy question to answer but it isn’t that simple. There are different laws for different states pertaining to radar detector usage. You’ll be happy to know that generally, you can operate a radar detector in 49 of the 50 states.

States Where You Can Legally Use Radar Detectors

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California (prohibits mounting on the windshield)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida (prohibits mounting on the windshield)
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey (prohibits mounting on the windshield)
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania (prohibits mounting on the windshield)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

In Which States Are They Prohibited?

Where are radar detectors illegal? Radar detectors are only illegal in one state, Virginia. However, they are also not permitted in Washington, D.C.

Other Types of Radar Equipment

Now that you know the answer to “Are radar detectors legal?” here is some additional equipment that you must be aware of.

Radar Jammer

There is also a device called a radar jammer which is designed to interfere and scramble the frequency or signal directed towards it. The signal it emits impairs not only the police equipment but can also affect the airport ground control. Using this type of equipment is not only illegal under federal law, but you could be charged for a felony if caught using this device.

Laser Jammer

A laser jammer sends out beams of light that can prevent the police radar gun from getting the speed readings from the vehicle. This jammer is not banned by federal law, but some states have deemed it illegal. These states are California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Other Legal Ramifications

Placement of Your Radar Detector

There are specific areas within your vehicle that are legal when you are determining where to mount your radar detector. As you learn more about the “Are radar detectors legal?” question, this knowledge will help you avoid an unnecessary ticket. Where you put your radar detector in your car is a factor depending upon where you live. For example, in some places like California and Florida, it is illegal to mount it on the windshield. It is considered to be obstructing the driver’s view.

It is against the law for an officer to solely pull you over for having a radar detector mounted in your windshield. But should they see it there as they approach your vehicle for another reason, they can give you a citation. So, the law states you must attach the radar detector to the sun visor or under the dashboard of your car. Should you want to avoid any hassle, keep it concealed under your seat or in the glove box. Having the data on “Are radar detectors legal?” will help you determine the best legal location for it.

Commercial Vehicles

There are restrictions on commercial vehicles in some states based on weight. For instance, if you drive a commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds, then you can’t have a radar detector, but commercial vehicles less than 10,000 pounds can have one. States like New Jersey, Illinois, and New York prohibit all commercial vehicles no matter what they weigh from using radar detectors.

U.S. Military Bases

While on a U.S. Military Base, you cannot have a radar detector visible or operating in your car. If you are visiting or registered personnel, they have a checkpoint and will stop you. Should you have a radar detector, they will ask you to remove the device from where you have mounted it and keep it powered off while on the property. This is done to prevent any signals coming from the radar detector interfering with the military computers and equipment.


Technology has definitely benefited us in a lot of areas of our lives. With the invention of the radar detector, we are able to take more control of our speeding and avoid senseless tickets. We won’t have to always keep one eye on the speedometer and can get a heads up when a policeman is around.

Now knowing where are radar detectors legal will help with your decision to purchase one. This would be a good way to avoid the speed traps on your way to work or on a trip. You should have a way to avoid tickets especially when you are a good driver. Nobody wants to have a surprise speeding ticket ruin their day if they can avoid it. Getting a radar detector is exactly what you need to give you peace of mind on the road.