Are Radar Detectors Legal? A Complete Guide for Americans

are radar detectors illegal?

Are you tired of getting speeding tickets and want to invest in a radar detector? Before you do, it’s important to know the laws surrounding radar detectors in the United States. Each state has their own set of laws and regulations regarding the use of radar detectors, with some states completely prohibiting their use while driving, and others allowing them with certain restrictions.

Radar Detector Laws

Let’s dive into each individual state and talk about the radar detector laws each state has imposed. If you are new to this, it might surprise you just how many states have no clear laws prohibiting their use.

states where radar detectors are illegal
Virginia & Washington D.C. prohibit use of radar detectors

States Where Radar Detectors are Legal

Radar detectors are legal in most states in the United States, including states such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In the mentioned states, radar detectors are legal for passenger vehicles and there are no restrictions on their use.

Places Where Radar Detectors Are Illegal

Radar detectors are illegal in Virginia and Washington D.C. Using radar detectors in these states, you can be cited and fined. 

Fines in Washington D.C.

The fines for the use of radar detectors in Washington D.C. can vary depending on the circumstances of the violation, but they can be quite substantial. For example, fines can range from $50 to $300 for the first offense, and they can increase with each subsequent offense.


Fines in Virginia

The state of Virginia imposes strict penalties for the use of radar detectors. According to Virginia law, the use of radar detectors is completely prohibited while driving. This means that if a driver is caught with a radar detector in their vehicle, they can be cited and fined.

The fines for using a radar detector in Virginia can vary depending on the circumstances of the violation. The fine can range from $125 for a first-time offense to $250 for a repeat offender. Additionally, the driver may also face points on their driving record and/or a suspended driver’s license. Repeat offenders may face harsher penalties such as impoundment of the vehicle.

Laser Jammer Laws

The use of laser jammers is prohibited in several states in the United States, including:

  1. California: It is illegal to use laser jammers in California.
  2. Colorado: The use of laser jammers is prohibited in Colorado.
  3. Illinois: It is illegal to use laser jammers in Illinois.
  4. Minnesota: The use of laser jammers is prohibited in Minnesota.
  5. Nevada: It is illegal to use laser jammers in Nevada.
  6. Oklahoma: The use of laser jammers is prohibited in Oklahoma.
  7. Virginia: It is illegal to use laser jammers in Virginia.
  8. Washington D.C.: The use of laser jammers is prohibited in Washington D.C.

Are Radar Jammers Illegal in the United States?

Radar jammers are illegal in the United States. Federal law prohibits the possession, sale, distribution, or import of radar jamming devices. The use of radar jamming devices can interfere with law enforcement’s radar guns, making it difficult for them to accurately measure a vehicle’s speed, which could pose a danger to public safety. 

The use of radar jamming devices can result in fines, penalties and criminal charges. It’s also important to note that even in states where radar detectors are legal, it’s still illegal to use radar jamming devices.

Can you use a radar detector in a commercial vehicle?

The use of radar detectors in commercial vehicles is regulated by each state in the United States. Some states allow the use of radar detectors in commercial vehicles while others prohibit it.

In the state of California, radar detectors are not legal for commercial vehicles, truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are not allowed to use radar detectors while on the road.

In the states of Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, and Texas, the use of radar detectors is legal for commercial vehicles, but it is restricted in certain areas, such as toll roads and express lanes.

In the states of Virginia and Washington D.C., the use of radar detectors is completely prohibited for all vehicles, including commercial vehicles.

Radar Detector Alternatives

Obviously using a radar detector in your vehicle is the first line of defense against getting a speeding ticket. While some might say “just go the speed limit”, sometimes the flow of traffic does not allow for that, and the officer might not care.

Using a high quality radar detector that has great range and features would be a wise choice. Right now in 2023, the Uniden R3 is the best bang for the buck you can get. It cost almost half of what it was brand new and it won’t disappoint. It is one of the few detectors you can use in Virginia and the state troopers will never know since this detector is undetectable.

The most popular alternative for a radar detector is the free app, Waze. While Google Maps is making strides to copying what Waze has been good at for more than a decade, Waze is far more popular for reporting accidents, traffic jams, and police hiding.

It’s not bulletproof, but it’s better than nothing.


3 States Strict on Speeders

  • Georgia: Travel any time on i95 during the busy season and you’ll see more than 2 dozen state troopers hiding in the bushes, ditches and even off-ramps trying to catch speeders. This is one of the worst state to speed in, mostly because of their “Super Speeder Law” which tacks-on more fees to the issued citation.
  • Virginia: Being from this state, I know from experience that cops don’t play around here. Not only are radar detectors illegal, you’ll also find it difficult driving past 80mph on the highway without getting a reckless driving ticket. Now, this is at the discretion of the officers, however its not uncommon for police to issue reckless driving citations for people who travel 85 in a 70 (something that is very common in places like Florida, Utah and Texas where the long stretches of road allow).
  • Delaware: In the state of Delaware, if convicted of reckless driving, the first offense can range between 100 and 300 dollars or involve possibly up to 10-30 days in jail, or both. If you repeat the offense within the subsequent 3 years, the cost and jail time multiplies 2-3X.

In Summary

It’s always important to drive safely and obey traffic laws, regardless of whether or not you have a radar detector. Remember that the main goal is to drive safely and avoid getting a ticket. While radar detectors can be a useful tool, they should not be relied upon as a way to speed without consequence. 

Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings and obey posted speed limits.  

In case you want to grab one that will maximize the warning time of police radar, I put together a guide for the top picks in 2023. Whatever your budget is, there’s probably one that you’ll like.