Radar detector usage has gone up in the past years that it has become a common accessory preferred by motorists. The convenience and help a radar detector provides makes driving much easier, making it a highly sought device to rely on for daily drives.
Radar detectors can lessen worries of possible speeding tickets, especially as they easily detect radar and LIDAR guns used by law enforcers and the police. But before you could get too relaxed in the driver’s seat, you have to be assured on the legality of your device first. Ask yourself two important questions: “Is my type of vehicle allowed to use radar detector?” and “What are my state’s laws on the use of radar detectors?”
Type of vehicle: Commercial vs. Private
Laws are strict on the use of radar detectors by drivers of commercial vehicles like buses and trucks. If you’re a professional bus driver or truck driver, then using a radar detector is out of the question. The US federal law prohibits every commercial vehicle (more than 10,000 lbs) to use a radar detector while on the road. Failure to obey this could result to a ticket or worse, license suspension.
For private vehicles, on the other hand, laws vary from state to state but most of them legally allow drivers to own and use radar detectors while driving. You may check your state traffic laws to determine what they say about radar detectors, but read on for a quick reference.
Which States Allow Radar Detectors?
Most states allow the possession and use of radar detector in private vehicles with the exception of Washington D.C. and Virginia. Hence, if you live in or are travelling to these two states, you shouldn’t use your radar detector or you should dismount it altogether, in order to avoid violations. In fact, once you’re caught with a radar detector in Virginia, you’ll be fined with equipment violation that would cost you a ticket plus court fees. There would be no points to your license, but it’s still an added expense and hassle.
While the conditions per state may be straightforward and easy to remember, there are other rules that can make this a bit complicated. The varying laws on mounting devices on windshields can be confusing, as a total of 28 states, including California, prohibit mounting through suction cups in the windshield for all gadgets. However, seven of those states can be flexible on the rule depending on the size of the device mounted. So while this can be a bit of a gray area, private drivers can get around this by mounting their radar detectors somewhere else, like the dashboard or sun visor. You can find more information about state windshield mounting laws here.
There are other important notes to remember regarding radar detector laws where the previous premises stated do not apply. First, whether you have a commercial or private vehicle, if it’s more than 18,000 lbs, it automatically cannot have and use a radar detector. In that same way, whether you’re in Texas or Washington, or any other state in the US, as long as you’re within the bounds of a military base, you are forbidden to use a radar detector.
Many drivers have gone accustomed to the use of radar detector that without one they would have a very stressful and unenjoyable drive. It’s a good thing that overall, there’s a lot of freedom given to drivers in terms of owning and using radar detectors. You just have to know and take note of a few limiting factors and you’re all set for your worry-free and hassle-free drives.
William Johnson is a radar detector enthusiast and the founder of the Rated Radar Detector Blog where he posts informative radar detector-related articles regularly. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.