Are Radar Detectors Legal?
For the most part, radar detectors are legal for use in personal vehicles in all US states — but there are exceptions. The use of radar detectors is prohibited in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia. In Puerto Rico, radar detectors are legal on all passenger cars, but illegal on commercial vehicles. North of the border, radar detectors are legal in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, but illegal in all other provinces.
Under federal law, the use of radar or laser speed detectors is nationally illegal on all commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. This includes most 18 wheels. On commercial vehicles under 10,000 pounds, radar detectors are permitted – except in Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington. Radar detectors are always illegal for use by any U.S. military base.
California and Minnesota have laws against devices connected to a windshield that block driver visibility. No matter where you live, we would advise you not to attach any device to your windshield that an engine officer may interpret as obstructing your visibility. It’s a crisis and we would rather not give the police any reason to judge us or our vehicle.
Do the radar detectors work?
They really do. Whether yours is powerful or high-tech enough to reliably detect police radars every time is only part of the problem. There is no national standard for police radar here. An officer in the state of Nebraska can still use 30-year-old X-band weapons (do not ask us how we know), while civilian police will use Ka-band radar or even laser weapons. Better to hope you do not encounter Smokey using a laser device. Technically they are lay weapons, providing virtually instant reading of your speed. Lidar is more difficult to avoid than traditional radar. They can not be detected unless they are activated and are already measuring your speed and by then it is usually too late. Crowded applications, such as Waze, are much better at alerting a police officer using a didin gun from a radar detector mounted on the windshield or dashboard.
Conventional radio radar is relatively easy to detect and a basic radar detector should have no problem getting these signals. Hopefully your detector sounds the alarm clock in time so you can rub enough speed before the radar gun can accurately measure how fast you were going. Modern, more sophisticated detectors play a more active role. Not only do they detect the police radar and alert you to its presence, but they also use an internal transmitter to emit a similar radio signal, mixing it with radio noise to prevent the officer from accurately indicating speed on the radar weapon. In addition, modern radar detectors often include a photosensitive panel that detects laser beams from Led pistols and some filter noise from motion detectors in businesses, blind-spot monitors in other vehicles, and even other radar detectors. More about this below.
It is important to note that no radar detector is 100 percent effective. There is no guarantee that even with a radar detector on your dashboard, you will not get a speeding ticket. Radar technology is constantly being improved and upgraded — as are radar detectors. Think of your cell phone just a few years ago as opposed to the smart phone in your pocket today. like your old phone, your old radar detector may already be out of date. Consider upgrading to one of the newer models listed above.
Are Radar Detectors Worth It?
Well, that’s subjective. Radar detectors can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $ 700 or more, so it’s not a small investment. Many drivers swear by them and insist that their radar detector has paid them so many times. Others say it is a waste of money and that meticulously scanning traffic for brake lights and roof gum is a better practice.
We are not here to tell anyone how to drive, but if you drive fast, speeding tickets are a real risk. If you tend to accelerate regularly or just have bad luck with speeding tickets, a radar detector can be a solid investment.
Things that activate radar detectors
In addition to how they work and the type of signals they detect, an important difference between older radar detectors and newer high-tech devices is the number of false alarms given. False alerts can be triggered by anything, such as police radar, using X, K or Ka band frequencies. This includes traffic monitoring systems and electronic road warning signs for emergency vehicles. Modern radar detectors use advanced processing to filter out false signals.
One of the biggest sources of false alarms these days is the advanced security systems that are so common in many modern cars. These include things like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and blind spot monitoring systems. Such systems typically use K-band radio frequencies to determine how far an object is from a vehicle, so being close to another car can activate the radar detector.
Another source is automatic door openers — not just garage door openers but also automatic door openers used by retailers. If you use an outdated radar detector, simply passing through your neighborhood grocery store could cause the problem. If you receive more fake alerts than ever before, this is a sign that your radar detector may be out of date. Consider upgrading to one of the above devices.