A radar detector is an electronic device used by motorists to detect if their speed is being monitored by police or law enforcement using a radar gun. Most radar detectors are used so the driver can reduce the car's speed before being ticketed for speeding. Only doppler radar-based devices can be detected — other speed measuring devices including those using ANPR, piezo sensors, and VASCAR technology cannot be detected. LIDAR devices require a different type of sensor, although many modern detectors include LIDAR sensors.
Most of today's radar detectors detect signals across a variety of wavelength bands: usually X, K, and Ka. In Europe the Ku band is common as well.
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Radar detector laws by state The use of a radar detector in a passenger vehicle is legal in all states with the exception of Virginia, Washington DC. and while on military bases.
In Canada, the only three provinces that allow their use are Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Many overseas countries also ban their use, such as Portugal, Finland and Spain.
In areas that radar detectors are illegal, law enforcement use a device called the Spectre that is able to detect the use of radar detector in your car or truck. For more information on the Spectre, click here.
Laser Jammers and Radar Jammers are illegal in the states of Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, California, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado, Illinois and Washington DC.
Using or possessing a radar detector or jammer is illegal in certain countries, and it may result in fines, seizure of the device, or both. These prohibitions generally are introduced under the premise that a driver who uses a radar detector will pose a greater risk of accident than a driver who does not. However the 2001 Mori report suggests that radar detector users posed a 28% less risk of accident. The table below provides information about laws regarding radar detectors in particular nations. In 1967 devices to warn drivers of radar speed traps were being manufactured in the United Kingdom; they were deemed illegal under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.
|Australia||Illegal in all states besides Western Australia||They are illegal to use in a moving vehicle (as stated by the traffic laws in) SA, NSW, ACT, NT, Queensland and Tasmania. In the state of Victoria it is an offence to sell, use or possess a radar detector, and police may confiscate such equipment if found in a vehicle. Heavy fines apply, ranging from $200 – $1200 AUD, up to 9 demerit points, and confiscation of the Radar Detector. However, importing a unit is permitted under Australian customs regulations. Queensland = up to 40 penalty units (approximately equal to $3000) for being in or on a vehicle whether or not the device is operating or in working order.||K, Ka, Laser|
|Belgium||Illegal||In July 2006, a provisional seizure of a vehicle worth over 75.000 EUR itself was ordered by the courts, destruction of the radar detector itself and the driver's licence was suspended for 3 months.|
|Brazil||Illegal in all states.|
|Bulgaria||Detectors legal, jammers illegal.||Radar jammers are illegal.||X, K (fixed camera+radar)|
||Regardless of whether they are used or not, police there may confiscate radar detectors, operational or not, and impose substantial fines in provinces where radar detectors are illegal. Quebec penalizes $500 CAD for use of a radar detector, along with confiscation of the device.|
|Croatia||Detectors and jammers are illegal to use or to have in a motor vehicle.||HRK 2000 (€ 270) fine.|
|Czech Republic||Detectors legal, jammers illegal.||Fine up to CZK 200,000 (€ 7750), penalty points.||Ka|
|Egypt||Detectors and jammers are illegal.|
|Estonia||Illegal to use or have in a motor vehicle.||Fine up to 18000 EEK (€ 1150) as well as confiscation of the device.|
|France||*Illegal||Regardless of whether they are used or not, police there may confiscate radar detectors, operational or not, and impose substantial fines.|
|Finland||Illegal to use or have in a motor vehicle on a public road.||The fine depends on income. The detector will be confiscated.||Ka|
|Germany||Legal to own, illegal to use in a moving vehicle||75€ fine, 4 Points, destruction of the radar detector.|
|Greece||Illegal||2000€ fine, 30 day driver's license suspension, 60 days car registration license suspension and 5 SESO penalty points|
|Hungary||Legal, no limitations|
|Iceland||Legal||Radar jammers are illegal.|
|Ireland||Illegal (Republic of Ireland, Éire)||Law Refers to 'Speed Meter Detectors', Introduced 1991. No fixed penalty for possession, expect confiscation and Hefty fine.|
|Israel||Legal||Some cellular providers such as Pelephone actually provide radar detecting as a service powered by GPS|
|Jordan||Illegal||Regardless of whether they are used or not, police there may confiscate radar detectors, operational or not.||Laser (possibly others)|
|Latvia||Legal to own, illegal to use in a vehicle||40 LVL (57 EUR) fine and the detector will be confiscated.||K, POP Ka, Laser|
|Lithuania||Illegal||X, POP K, Laser|
|Malaysia||Illegal to possess, purchase, sell or use. Heavy fines apply.||Radar detectors are also prohibited items under customs laws.|
|Netherlands||Illegal||250€ fine and seizure of the device (since 2004)|
|New Zealand||Legal||Ka and Laser used also fixed speed camera and speed camera vans (Low Powered K Band)|
|Norway||Illegal to use. (Legal to own, sell, and buy)||8000-10000 krone fine and seizure of the device.|
|Poland||Legal to own, illegal to use in a moving vehicle||Jammers illegal||X, K, Pulse K, Ka Narrow, Laser|
|Romania||Legal since 2006||Radar jammers still illegal||Instant-On K|
|Russia||Legal||Instant-On (Pulse) X, POP K, Laser (0,8 mkm)|
|Serbia||Illegal to use, possess, sell or advertise||Illegal to use or have in possession in a vehicle in traffic, to sell or advertise: an apparatus or any other means of detecting or interfering with operation of vehicle speed measuring devices, or any other apparatus used for discovering and reporting traffic violations|
|Singapore||Illegal to possess, purchase, sell or use. Heavy fines apply.||Radar detectors are also prohibited items under customs laws.|
|Slovenia||Legal||Laser jammers illegal (fine up to 500€ and confiscation of the device).|
|South Africa||Illegal to use in a moving vehicle||Importing a unit is permitted under South African customs regulations.|
|Spain||Radar Detectors legal, jammers illegal.||Radar and Laser jammers fine up to 6000€||Ka narrow, laser, Autovelox|
|Switzerland||Illegal||Radar detectors are confiscated and destroyed. The use of any GPS-based device to locate speed cameras is also illegal.|
|Turkey||Illegal||Radar jammers are illegal|
|United Kingdom||Legal||Legal to own, but technically illegal to use under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 until 1998, due to legal loophole causing them to be legalized suddenly.|
|United States||Law varies from state to state, but detectors are generally legal in private vehicles under the Communications Act of 1934and illegal in commercial vehicles by DOT regulation (49 CFR 392.71). Exceptions:
||Confiscation and/or destruction of the detector was once a common practice but lawsuits raised by drivers arguing violation of property rights have resulted in temporary removal while a citation is written, then return of the device after its description (make, model and serial number) has been entered on the ticket - usually for speeding and possession/operation of detector. Use of a radar/lidar detector on a military installation is prohibited. Persons entering a military installation with one visibly mounted to the sun visor or windshield will be asked to remove it and put it away. Those who refuse will be denied entry onto the installation at that time. Military law enforcement may not stop a vehicle solely for a detector being in use, but along with being stopped for another moving violation, the person using the detector may be ordered to report the violation to his/her unit commanding officer (active duty only).
Radar jammers are illegal under federal law, but laser jammers aren't specifically banned. Some states, such as Minnesota, have state laws banning laser jammers.