Are Radar Detectors Legal?

Radar Detectors have become more commonplace in today’s world, it’s expected, we are in a technologically driven environment where Police aren’t the only ones who know where we are at at all times. Radar Detectors exist to let you know when your car is being radar’d or laser detected by law enforcement, the only question that remains is: Are Radar Detectors legal? 

A radar is what police use to determine the speed in which your vehicle is traveling. Some key facts about them being: 

  • Radar is the sub-standard approach to measuring another vehicle’s speed.
    • It is commonly used by immobile Police vehicles while sitting on the side of the road.
    • It accurately gauges the speed at which a vehicle is traveling. 
    • It can still be used while that same vehicle is mobile (behind you while in traffic, next to you on the highway, etc.)
    • Most units are car mounted, though there are some handheld models.
  • Radar detecting is the most common way in which Police measure a vehicle’s speed. 
  • Radar Detectors are ineffective at gauging the speed of vehicles if there are multiple speeding. 
  • Radar Detectors have a hard time gauging speed if there are high winds or other particles in the air (Sleet, rain, dust and other adverse weather conditions).

Radar Detectors have been around since the early 50’s, and therein soon after the first radar detector was created in 1968 by a disgruntled man who received a speeding ticket. Once something is created the question is further asked if it is legal, and this question has a somewhat simple, yet contrived answer. 

Yes, Radar Detectors are mostly legal in the United States, but again it varies on a state by state basis (We’ll get to it), and unfortunately there have been waves of law enforcement trying to ban radar detectors. 

What States in the US are Radar Detectors Illegal?

It is completely allowed to have a radar detector in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. 

Notice the missing states? That’s right and unfortunately if you live in Iowa, Virginia or Washington DC (District of Columbia) Radar detectors are banned and illegal to use. 

Where radar detectors are illegal isn’t up for much debate, you just have to understand that those states have passed specific laws that ban the devices. 

Knowing that radar detectors are legal in the aforementioned states, know that there are some contrivances in the manner in which they are legal. For example, in Illinois, although it is legal to own a radar detector, you may not have one in a commercial vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds, so if you have a CDL, you’re out of luck. 

DO be wary though, if you have a lower quality radar detector, some cops would be able to spot them, and know that for the most part. If a cop wants to pull you over for a minor road infraction, they most definitely have the ability too. 

Also know that while owning a radar detector for your own personal use is fine and justifiable, using one for commercial use or even the purchase of decommissioned police radar is unlawful. 

It is always best to check with your local jurisdictions in relation to laws pertaining to radar use however, as some places may give less leeway to motorists who are in possession of them.

Do Radar Detectors Work?

Do Radar Detectors work is a good question to ask. The world we live in, there’s gadgets for any and everything, so making sure you’re not spending an exuberant amount of money on some apparatus that could end up being a paperweight is not advisable. 

Yes, Radar Detectors do work however. As long as you are paying for something that is more akin to a top-shelf item, the radar detector should work and allow you to travel safer on the roads while avoiding any speed traps left by law enforcement. 

Radar Detectors work by acting as a radio receiver that picks up specific radio frequencies. Once they pick up those frequencies, they relay that back to you through a beeping noise. 

How a Police Radar Works: 

  • The radar sends out a radio frequency that bounces towards the vehicle-of-interest.
  • The waves bounce back towards the radar. 
  • The speed at which the radio waves bounce back at is then used to calculate the speed of the vehicle. 

Note: This is not a rough estimate when used to calculate your vehicle’s speed. It is admissible in court and arguing that radar’s do not give precise speeds would be an incorrect means of defending yourself. 

Another important note is that although Radar’s can be used while a police vehicle is mobile, officer’s also use something called Pacing in order to estimate your vehicle’s speed. If you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer, make sure that they say that the radar was the thing that tipped them off. 

While it’s hard to argue against an officer’s judgment, arguing against human error is more tangible than arguing against that of technology. 

Radar Detectors work specifically by letting you know a radar is being used before you come into view of it! That’s why they’re a worthy investment, they’ll end up paying themselves off within no time if you have an insurmountable amount of speed traps in your city. 

How Radar Detectors Work:

  • Due to Police radar’s casting such a wide net over motorists — the cars in front of you, next to you, behind you and what not — a radar detector is able to detect the frequencies before it is being directly pointed at your car.
  • The radio waves that are bounced from your detector to the police radar are not detectable unless you are using a lower-scale model radar detector. 
  • Radar detectors are tuned to a specific frequency that police radars are, so there are few chances for false-positives. 

Radar Detectors do work, just know the specifics of what make and model you are getting and one that is not out of date, nothing sucks more than a piece of hardware that is more than obsolete. 

Every Radar Detector is Different, though they all have the same purpose, to let you know when you’re going to be pinged by a police radar before you are!

I highly recommend the Uniden R6 Radar/Laser Detector if you’re in the market for a mid-range radar detector. It has built-in self learning false positive filtering (other car’s collision detection and retail automatic sliding doors) as well as being on the cheaper side for a radar detector. Click here to Buy Yours on Amazon Today!

ALSO VIEW: Are Radar Detectors Worth it?

Do Laser Jammers Work?

You know all about Radar Detectors, but what about laser jammers? 

Before we jump into the specifics, here are the following states where using a laser jammer is prohibited. 

States where it is illegal to use a laser jammer: California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington D.C. 

Note: There is no federal law banning such devices in other states, so they are allowed to be used, but always check your local counties legislation!

Laser detectors or LiDar (Light and Radar Gun) have become more prevalent. Most law enforcement officer’s vehicles are equipped with them and those give precise, singular readings for a specific car on the road. They are more accurate and precise than regular police radar.

Some Brief Facts on LiDar Guns:

  • They have to be used while the vehicle is immobile.
  • They are not detectable by most radar detectors due to it being on a different frequency. 
  • LiDar guns are more accurate, concise, and have the ability to ping your car (due to the nature of them being single targeted) before you have a chance to react and deflect the signal. 

Laser Jammers do work, and often as well as radar detectors, but the problem lies in the ability of such jammers to work when reaction time is pivotal to know if a cop is using a LiDar gun. A LiDar gun only needs to be pointed at one side of the vehicle, front or back or on either side; that’s where the problem lies. 

Do Police know if you have a Radar Detector?

Only having a single laser jammer will not get you far if the police use the gun on the opposing side of your vehicle. The best bet ought to be to get two laser jammers, though not financially the most viable option, it will allow for smooth sailing on the roads without fear of being pulled over for speeding at a breakneck pace. 

Laser Jammers are effective at or around 500 to 1000 feet, and become less effective the closer you are to the Laser detector. This is due to the beam strikes around or off the detector aperture. 

There is no surefire way to block lasers, even having two laser jammers may not be enough. It relies on yourself and your ability to judge situations accordingly. 

This Youtube video by a mainstay channel in the radar detection sub-section of youtube goes in-depth on the pros and cons of radar detectors and laser jammers.

Also know that laser jammers are not to be used in order to continually speed past a cop trying to clock your speed, they can still gauge the speed and provide themselves reasonable cause to pull you over. Jammers work in order to allow you to slow down to an accommodating speed (most likely the speed limit). 

If you’re in the market for a dual laser jammer, and money is no object, then Click Here to purchase the UNIDEN R8 Extreme Long-Range Radar/Laser Detector. It has a built-in voice system as well as GPS to let you know of Law enforcement’s whereabouts anywhere you go! Click Here to Buy on Amazon!

Do Car Insurance Policies Cover Radar Detectors?

Most car insurance companies do not cover the cost of radar detectors, rather, if they know you own a radar detector, they may charge you a premium as they view owners of radar detectors to be more inclined to speed on roadways. 

Generally speaking though, radar detector owners do not need to identify themselves to auto insurers. Most insurance companies do not ask if you own a radar detector anyway! 

So, as to directly answer the question, NO, Car insurance policies do not cover radar detectors and quite the opposite, they’d be more inclined to deny you coverage if you were to acknowledge owning one. 

Know that speeding of any form will most definitely dink your record of driving, and having a radar detector or laser jammer can be more than helpful in helping you bypass some speeding tickets. 


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