Police Car 2

Are Radar Detectors Legal in 2021? A State-by-State Guide

The short answer is yes; radar detectors are mostly legal in the United States, but there are some exceptions. As for laser jammers, the same is true. Laser jammers are widely considered legal but are subject to a few more restrictions than radar detectors, depending on the state.

This guide will look at the radar detector laws for all 50 U.S. states. We have also included a helpful state-by-state chart for a quick reference. Let’s first start with the basics regarding the legality of radar detectors and laser jammers.  

Are Radar Detectors Legal?

Using a radar detector in a privately owned passenger vehicle is legal in every state except Virginia and Washington D.C.

However, there are some gray areas regarding the laws in Virginia and the District of Columbia. According to Virginia law, it’s okay to have a radar detector as long as it’s not accessible to the vehicle’s occupants and there is no power source. If the unit is off and in the trunk, for example, you should be in the clear. According to the Virginian-Pilot, you could face up to a $250 fine for violating the law. Police can also confiscate radar detectors on the spot if they stop you.

Are Radar Detectors Legal In Commercial Vehicles?

Radar detectors are illegal in any commercial vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds, no matter what state you’re driving in. In commercial vehicles under 10,000 pounds, radar detectors are allowed in all states except for Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

If you are operating an 18-wheeler for the purpose of interstate commerce, radar detectors are absolutely illegal inside the cab, even if the unit is off. The ban on radar detectors, enacted by the Federal Highway Administration in 1994, is meant to discourage such large trucks from speeding.

Are Laser Jammers Legal?

Laser Jammers are illegal to use in California, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington D.C. But since there is no federal law banning them, they can be used in other states.

Laser jammers work by transmitting invisible light sources back to the original police laser gun (or LiDAR gun) to confuse it. These types of laser guns are much more direct and allow officers to pinpoint a single vehicle more effectively. The return signal confuses the laser gun, and as a result, the officer cannot “clock” the driver’s speed.

What About Radar Jammers?

Radar jammers or scramblers are illegal in all 50 states because they interfere with the broad signal law enforcement uses to target speeding vehicles, but they can even cause problems for airplanes. Federal law (Section 333 of the Communication Act of 1934) describes radar jammers as a “malicious interference” and even a first offense can result in heavy fines and jail time.

Are Radar Detectors Legal In My State?

Let’s take a look at radar detection laws by state. Note that federal law prohibits using radar detectors on military bases in all 50 states.

State Private Vehicle Comm. Vehicle
(<10k lbs)
Laser Jammer
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
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
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

1. Alabama

Using radar detectors is legal in private vehicles in Alabama. Laser jammers are also legal.

2. Alaska

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Alaska.

3. Arizona

There are no limitations for radar detectors in private vehicles in Arizona. Laser jammers are legal too.

4. Arkansas

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Arkansas.

5. California

In California, radar detectors are legal, but the state does have a say about where they are positioned (Minnesota does too). In California, you cannot mount anything to the windshield as it may obstruct the view. If you have a radar detector in California, you must mount it on the dashboard. If you get caught with it on the windshield, you can be ticketed. Laser jammers are also illegal in the Golden State.

6. Colorado

Radar detectors are legal in Colorado, but laser jammers are illegal under state law.

7. Connecticut

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Connecticut.

8. Delaware

In Delaware, you can legally use a radar detector or laser jammer in a private vehicle. Fun fact: a study in 2018 found that Delaware was the strictest when it came to speeding.

9. Florida

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Florida.

10. Georgia

It is legal to have a radar detector or laser jammer in a private vehicle in Georgia.

11. Hawaii

Radar detectors and laser jammers are permitted in The Aloha State.

12. Idaho

You can legally use a radar detector or laser jammer in Idaho.

13. Illinois

Radar detectors are legal in Illinois. Laser jammers, however, are not permitted. Likewise, radar detectors are not allowed in any commercial vehicle, even if it’s under 10,000 lbs.

14. Indiana

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Indiana.

15. Iowa

Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal.

16. Kansas

For that long stretch across I-70, you’re in luck. Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal in Kansas.

17. Kentucky

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Kentucky.

18. Louisiana

Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal in the Pelican State.

19. Maine

Radar detectors and laser jammers are permitted in Maine.

20. Maryland

Unlike in the neighboring state of Virginia, radar detectors are legal in private vehicles in Maryland. Laser jammers are also legal in Maryland.

21. Massachusetts

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Massachusetts.

22. Michigan

Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal.

23. Minnesota

Minnesota law is similar to California. You can have a radar detector, but it cannot be mounted to the windshield. If you live in Minnesota, secure it to the dashboard instead to avoid getting a ticket. Keep in mind that laser jammers are illegal under state law and radar detectors are not allowed in a commercial vehicle, even if it’s under 10,000 lbs.

24. Mississippi

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Mississippi.

25. Missouri

In Missouri, radar detectors and laser jammers are legal.

26. Montana

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Montana.

27. Nebraska

Radar detectors are legal in Nebraska. Laser jammers are illegal, as are all references to the Colorado Buffaloes (which didn’t change even though the Huskers are in the Ben Ten now).

28. Nevada

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Nevada.

29. New Hampshire

New Hampshire permits radar detectors and laser jammers in private vehicles.

30. New Jersey

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in New Jersey. However, radar detectors are not allowed in commercial vehicles in The Garden State, even if they are under 10,000 lbs.

31. New Mexico

In New Mexico, it is okay to have a radar detector or laser jammer in a private vehicle.

32. New York

Both radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in New York. However, radar detectors are not allowed in commercial vehicles even if they are under 10,000 lbs.

33. North Carolina

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in the Tar Heel State.

34. North Dakota

North Dakota allows the use of radar detectors and laser jammers.

35. Ohio

Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal.

36. Oklahoma

Oklahoma permits the use of radar detectors and laser jammers in private vehicles.

37. Oregon

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Oregon.

38. Pennsylvania

In the Keystone State, it’s okay to use either a radar detector or laser jammer.

39. Rhode Island

Radar detectors and laser jammers are allowed in Rhode Island.

40. South Carolina

Radar detectors are legal in South Carolina, but laser jammers are illegal.

41. South Dakota

South Dakota state law permits the use of radar detectors and laser jammers.

42. Tennessee

Radar detectors are legal in Tennessee, but not laser jammers.

43. Texas

Texas allows radar detectors in private vehicles, but laser jammers are not permitted.

44. Utah

Radar detectors are legal in Utah, although laser jammers are not.

45. Vermont

In Vermont, radar detectors and laser jammers are legal.

46. Virginia

Radar detectors and laser jammers are illegal to use in Virginia no matter what you drive.

47. Washington

The State of Washington allows radar detectors and laser jammers in private vehicles.

48. West Virginia

Radar detectors and laser jammers are both legal.

49. Wisconsin

Radar detectors and laser jammers are permitted in The Badger State.

50. Wyoming

Radar detectors and laser jammers are legal in Wyoming.     

51. Washington D.C.

Radar detectors and laser jammers are illegal to use in the District of Columbia.

Summary & Recommendations

In most states, it’s legal to have a radar detector or laser jammer in your car, except for Virginia and Washington D.C. Under federal law, radar detectors are illegal in any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds or on any military base.

Radar detectors can help you avoid a speeding ticket, but you don’t have to spend a lot to get a nice, reliable unit. Check out our list of the best radar detectors under $200 and the best radar detectors on the market.

Read This Next
Uniden R7 1
Uniden R7 Overview: Key Features & Competitive Comparision