Drivers have to be careful with their speed to avoid getting tickets. But did you know that it is possible to avoid being issued traffic violations and speeding tickets? Yes, thanks to radar detectors, which are easy to buy and install, and most of them are affordable, too. However, many people hesitate to use a radar detector for lack of knowledge on the legality of its use. They often ask, “What states are radar detectors illegal?” After all, the possible fines and penalties for owning an illegal product are considerably higher than a speeding or traffic violation ticket.

What’s A Radar Detector?

Radar detectors are small electronic tools that alert drivers if traffic patrol officer or police is nearby. This device is often placed in the vehicle’s cabin where it can detect when there is a nearby radar. The detector will prompt the driver either with a light or voice alert.

However, radar detectors are not 100 percent accurate as they also provide false alerts. This occurs when the device gives an alert warning even if there is no real threat. Since then, many radar detectors have incorporated more technology and features in their products to minimize or eradicate these false alerts.

The Legal Aspects of Radar Detectors

Some states don’t allow the use of radar detectors. Although most people consider this product as a useful and valuable tool in driving, and that most places allow the ownership of one.

Some places even ban the use of this device because they say that radar detectors, in a way, encourage overspeeding among drivers. Others add that radar detectors allow dangerous and reckless driving. Those against the use of the tool argue that drivers are more likely to follow the set speed limits when radar detectors are banned.

There is another reason why some areas don’t allow the use of this tool. They say radar detectors can be quite distracting since drivers tend to spend time looking at the detector.

Different countries or even states have varying rules regarding the ownership and use of radar detectors. It is best to know whether the device is legal in your territory before buying one.

Radar Detector Laws in Europe

Whether the use and possession of a radar detector are allowed depends on the European country in question. Some countries in the region allow the possession of the detector but not its use while others totally ban the ownership of the device.

For example, Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Spain, and Greece deem it illegal for anyone to use and own a radar detector. On the other hand, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Italy, to name a few, allow both possession and use of radar detectors.

Meanwhile, Turkey, Serbia, Finland, Sweden, and Estonia are some of the countries that ban both the use and possession of the equipment.

Canadian Radar Detector Laws

In Canada, each state would have its laws regarding the use and possession of a radar detector.

For example, Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan allow the use and possession of the detector. These three states allow vehicle owners and drivers to mount the radar detectors in the windshield. Other states that allow the tool, however, may disallow its mounting on the windshield.

On the other hand, Quebec, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territory, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territory deem radar detectors illegal.

General Rule In the United States

Generally, using radar and laser detectors in the United States is allowed since the tool is intended for drivers to be mindful of their driving speeds. Yes, laws vary from one state to another. But for most of the states, private vehicles are allowed to have radar detectors.

What’s illegal to use in many states are the radar jammers. After all, radar jammers interfere with law and traffic enforcement activities.

The Laws on Radar Detectors In Different States

Many first-timers in the world of radar detector use to ask, “What states are radar detectors illegal?” As mentioned, most states don’t ban the use of this tool, but their restrictions may vary. Below is a run-down of some of the laws in selected states.


The state of Alabama does not ban the use and ownership of radar detectors, which means it is 100 percent legal in this state.

The state allows the use of radar and laser detectors legitimate for passenger vehicles. However, what is not permitted is the use of radar detector for commercial vehicles as this is a federal law.

New York

The State of New York, like many states, allow the ownership and use of radar detectors. However, motor vehicles that weigh at least 18,000 lbs are not allowed to use this equipment. The federal law of disallowing laser jammers and radar detectors in commercial vehicles, naturally apply in New York.


The use of radar detectors is California is 100 percent legal. However, there are some restrictions.

Using radar detectors that are mounted on windshields is not allowed in this state. Those caught with radar detectors on their windshields may end up getting issued a ticket.


Maryland allows the use of the radar detector in private vehicles. What’s not allowed is the use of such a tool for commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

What States Are Radar Detectors Illegal?

So far, there are only two states in the United States that ban the use of radar detectors. These are Virginia and Washington DC.

People, however, should note that laws change over time, so it’s best to check for the laws of the territory first before buying and installing one.

Know the Laws of the Land

Radar detectors are useful devices as they can advise drivers to slow down and warn them to avoid being caught by the traffic police or highway patrol. Fortunately, these detectors are easily available on the market and come with different features.

Vehicle owners and drivers, however, should take the time to research the laws of their area regarding the use of radar detectors. Some countries allow them and others don’t. Other areas allow them but deem its mounting on the windshield illegal. It is best to know what the law says to avoid being in trouble with the authorities. After all, that’s probably one of the reasons why you want a radar detector, right?

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