Home Law Facts States that radar detectors are illegal

States that radar detectors are illegal

States that radar detectors are illegal

Radar detectors are widely legal in the United States, used by drivers to check for highway police by detecting the actively running radar devices. Despite the wide use, there are some states that radar detectors are illegal.

In this article, we will discuss the states where radar detectors are illegal, the relevant laws, how to use radar detectors and where to get the most affordable radar detectors for use. Keep reading to know more.

What is a Radar detector?

what is a radar detector
Radar Detector

A speed radar detector for cars is an electronic device which informs drivers if their speed is being monitored by police nearby who are operating their speed detecting radar devices. Even though radar detectors isn’t used to check the presence of police on the highway, detecting actively running radar is a indication of the presence of officers.

The main purpose for which motorists use radar detectors, is to avoid being caught speeding. A motorist can reduce their speed to the required limit if the speed radar detector notices the presence of an active radar device.

States that radar detectors are illegal

States that radar detectors are illegal

There are only a handful of states in the US that prohibits the use of car speed radar detectors even though there several restrictions on their use. Out of the 50 US states and the Washington D.C, there are only two states that radar detectors are illegal. They are:

1. Are radar detectors legal in Virginia?

In Virginia, the use or sale of radar detectors are prohibited by the ยง 46.2-1079 Motor Vehicle and Equipment safety law of the Virginia code. The law states that:

READ ALSO:  What is the Lemon Law? - US, Canada and UK Lemon laws

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth when such vehicle is equipped with any device or mechanism, passive or active, to detect or purposefully interfere with or diminish the measurement capabilities of any radar, laser, or other device or mechanism employed by law-enforcement personnel to measure the speed of motor vehicles on the highways of the Commonwealth for law-enforcement purposes. It shall be unlawful to use any such device or mechanism on any such motor vehicle on the highways.

It shall be unlawful to sell any such device or mechanism in the Commonwealth. However, provisions of this section shall not apply to any receiver of radio waves utilized for lawful purposes to receive any signal from a frequency lawfully licensed by any state or federal agency.”

Despite a call for the repeal of this law banning radar detectors in Virginia, a HOUSE BILL NO. 674 that sought to repeal the law in 2010 failed, leaving the ban in force.

2. Are radar detectors legal in Washington?

Washington is another US state with strict regulations on the use of speed radar detectors. Private vehicle drivers are allowed to use radar detectors, but commercial vehicles and all vehicles of weight 18,000 pounds or more are banned from using such device.

Why some states ban radar detector use

Supporters of the ban on radar detectors insist that the prohibition will:

  1. discourages drivers from over-speeding
  2. discourage reckless driving on highways and,
  3. would rather encourage drivers to follow speed limits in order to avoid getting caught by highway police.
READ ALSO:  Is ding dong ditching illegal? Here's what the law says

How radar detectors work

How radar detectors work

Radar detectors have a straightforward job of detecting broadcasts on their X, K and Ka bands, which could be employed by police radar device. They do not interfere with or alter the signals of radar and only notify drivers with signaling or a voice message that there’s a possibility of a police vehicle being near by.

In the majority of cases, radar detectors allow ample time for the driver to stop and drive by the police vehicle within the speed limit.

The radar detectors detect the radar signals produced by the radar device. When it detects a signal, the radar detector will send out an alert or signal alert to notify that the law officers are close by.

The radar detectors could save you from expensive penalties, defensive driving classes as well as insurance premium increases however, in order to make maximum benefit you must understand how radar detectors function in depth.

Although all detectors carry out the same function, they come with a range of distinct features that could be suited to your car.

The working of radar detectors can differ depending on the frequency of radio waves released by the radar device used by police. There are basically three distinct bands utilized in the police speed radar devices.

Radar detector bands

X Band

This is most likely the oldest technology of radar that is used mainly in rural areas of the present. They operate at the frequency of 10.5GHz. The main benefit of this model is that it’s not affected by weather conditions and is able to detect vehicles from long distances too.

K Band

This is a slight improvement in technology that is slightly better than the X band. Police typically use the frequency range that ranges from 24.125GHz from 24.15GHz. This band has a smaller range when compared with X Band detectors. The majority of modern detectors have been able to overcome this limitation, however.

READ ALSO:  Norma McCorvey - Story of the woman in Roe v Wade

But, you should be prepared for many false alarms when using this radar-based band detection. Some other devices like an automated door, gas stations garage doors. are also using this frequency. It can tire out you with alarms after only a short time.


The Ka-band band is more complex and is superior to those other bands. For instance, Ka-band is able to employ up to five frequencies. It is able to detect very tiny distances. This means that there is an extremely low chance for false alarms. A modern radar detector will shield your from this band of radar. The older ones could not be reliable.

Useful features in modern radar detectors

The majority of modern detectors come with voice-activated alerts, in addition to alarms that help you stay to stay on track, and some include smartphones integration. Radar detectors are less expensive than the costs of ticketing for speeding, courts costs and higher insurance premiums.

Based on the state of your residence in which you live, you could opt for either a windshield-mounted or remote mounted radar detector.


States that radar detectors are illegal in the US are Virginia which has a blanket ban, and Washington which allows use by private vehicle drivers but prohibits use in commercial and heavy vehicles. It is important to check your state’s specific guidelines for the use radar detectors.


  1. World population review
  2. Radar detector guide

The contents of this page are for informational purposes only and doesn’t constitute legal or financial advice. Read our terms of use for more

Previous articleDifference between Litigator and Lawyer
Next articleVirginia federal prison escape 2022 – All you need to know