Are Radar Detectors Illegal or Legal in the USA? Radar Detector Laws

Are radar detectors illegal: Virginia sign radar detectors are illegalAre radar detectors illegal or legal in your state? What are the laws regarding radar detectors here in the USA?

It turns out that laws regarding radar detector usage vary depending on where you are in the country and even what type of vehicle you’re driving.

Let’s take a look at what the laws are in the US for radar detectors, plus cover some bonus material such as how police find radar detector users, as well as cover laws regarding radar jammers.

Radar Detector Laws Map: Where Radar Detectors are Legal

Where Are Radar Detectors Illegal?

Radar detectors are actually legal in most of the US and in most types of vehicles, but here are the exceptions:

  • Virginia & Washington D.C.
  • All U.S. military bases nationwide
  • In commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs
  • In all vehicles over 18,000 lbs

Note: In Virginia they used to confiscate detectors if you get caught with one, but they no longer do. If you get caught with a radar detector there, it’s an equipment violation which is an infraction that comes with a $40 ticket plus court costs (total less than $100) and no points to your license.

Where Are Radar Detectors Legal?

  • All the other 49 states, excluding VA & D.C. or military bases
  • In passenger vehicles

So in short, in most of the country if you’re not a commercial truck driver, you’re a-okay. 🙂

How Police Locate Radar Detectors using Radar Detector Detectors:

In order to locate radar detectors in banned areas, police use specially designed devices called radar detector detectors (RDD’s).

Here’s a quick video showing you the Spectre Elite radar detector detector in action in several different scenarios. You’ll see me pick out 3 different cars running radar detectors, the first is a car driving towards me, the second is approaching and passing me from behind, and then a third is where I hunt and locate a radar detector in heavy traffic.

Most radar detectors can be detected like this, with a few notable exceptions…

Undetectable Radar Detectors

Some radar detector manufacturers build specially designed “stealth” radar detectors that are undetectable to radar detector detectors. An officer could drive right past you and his RDD wouldn’t even peep. If you need a stealth detector, here are some of the best:

Undetectable Windshield Mount Radar Detectors

Undetectable Remote Mount Radar Detectors

For more information choosing a radar detector, check out my guide covering the best radar detectors.

Are Radar Jammers Legal?

People sometimes ask about radar jammers. What about instead of just detecting the radar signal up ahead, what if you were to jam it? Well as of 1996, radar jamming is a federal crime and is highly illegal. We’re talking at least $50,000 in penalties plus prison time. (Read info from the FCC.)

Before that, companies used to sell radar jammers, but they were designed back in the days of older analog radar guns and before the FCC went after them. Newer digital radar guns are much more challenging to effectively jam and the penalties are extremely high so no company builds and sells radar jammers anymore here in the US.

Note: Rocky Mountain Radar advertises a feature called “scrambling” where they say they can “scramble” a police radar gun and prevent them from getting a speed, similar to jamming. However, it does not work whatsoever and the scrambling functionality is complete snake oil.

If you’d like to purchase a good quality radar detector, check out my Radar Detector Buyer’s Guide.

All information on this website is provided for informational & educational purposes only, and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Although every effort has been made to assure that this information is up-to-date as of the date of publication, no warranty or representation as to its accuracy is made. Check your local regulations. Vortex Radar assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of the site. 

This website contains affiliate links and I sometimes make commissions on purchases. All opinions are my own. I don’t do paid or sponsored reviews.

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    • T on November 6, 2017 at 7:18 pm
    • Reply

    Your USA map is wrong. You show MD as radar detectors as being illegal instead of VA.

    1. oops, lol, you’re right.. I was thinking DC and got that wrong. Thank you! Time to fix that…

    2. All set. Thank you for pointing out my mistake! 🙂

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