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Are Radar Detectors Legal?

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By Andrew Lu on August 07, 2012 7:05 AM

Admit it, there's a sick pleasure in driving past another driver pulled over for speeding. However, almost all of us speed, and that sick pleasure can turn sickening when you get lit up by a police cruiser. So you're probably wondering whether radar detectors are legal.

If you do a lot of driving, you may have thought at some point to get a radar detector. And with radar detector apps being developed for your smartphone, it's now easier than ever to get such a device.

However, before installing a radar detector in your car or phone, you should know that it may be illegal for you to drive with a radar detector.

Radar detector laws vary by state

Generally, radar detector laws for personal vehicles are state specific. So there is no universal answer to whether radar detectors are legal. Some jurisdictions have flat-out prohibitions from using radar detectors like in Virginia and the District of Columbia. While other states like California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have prohibitions from placing things like radar detectors on your windshield.

In many states, there are no laws that specifically prohibit the use of radar detectors. But even when the law does not have a specific prohibition, you may want to consult with an attorney to learn all the possible exceptions and conditions for legally having a radar detector in your car.

Radar detector laws for commercial vehicles

While radar detectors laws for personal vehicles are typically left to the states, drivers of commercial vehicles should be aware that there are federal regulations that specifically prohibit radar detectors. So even if your state allows these detectors for personal cars, it will still be illegal if you drive a commercial vehicle.

So before you download that latest radar detector app, you should be aware that radar detectors are not always legal depending on which state you drive in and what type of vehicle you drive.

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