Radar Detector in California Legal?


Many people still believe that radar detector legal in California, but there are a couple important things that you should know. It is legal to use radar detector in California, but not in commercial vehicles. No vehicle that is used by any business can have one of these devices in it. It is important to keep this in mind if you want to know is it legal to have a radar detector in California.

The California radar detector law windshield is something else to consider. It is illegal to have a radar detector mounted on your windshield. If you get pulled over with one of these devices on your windshield, you will most likely get a pricey ticket. If you want to know where to mount radar detector in California, you should just choose the dashboard. Pretty much any of these devices can be mounted to the dash without any issues at all.

If you want to know is a radar detector illegal in California, the answer is no but with one exception. There is a law in California prohibiting laser jammers. These are devices that basically throw off the accuracy of radar guns used by police. The very best radar detector for California is one that does not jam laser signals. The fine for getting caught with one of these devices is quite hefty, so you must keep that in mind.

The issue of is radar detector illegal in California is still one that causes some confusion. California radar detector laws aren’t quite as strict as some people think, but you do need to know what they are if you live there.

The most straightforward answer to the question of is a radar detector legal in California? Yes, but not for commercial vehicles. Radar detector California laws are pretty straightforward, but it’s important you know exactly what they are.


Minnesota is another state where it is illegal to mount a radar detector on your windshield. This law exists to prevent visual obstructions for drivers. It is perfectly legal to use one of these devices in this state, but you must have it mounted on the dashboard.


Radar detectors are completely banned in Virginia. If you get pulled over and have one of these devices in your car, there is a good possibility that you’ll be fined. The fine for this infraction depends on the jurisdiction, but it won’t be cheap. There is also a chance that you will have the device taken away.

Washington D.C.

This is the other state where radar detectors are completely illegal for passenger and commercial vehicles.

All other U.S. states allow radar detectors, but for passenger vehicles only. No other states besides the ones above put limits on which types of radar detectors you can use, so you can feel free to buy whatever you want. Those who are familiar with these laws can avoid wasting money on a device they cannot even use.

Federal Radar Detector Law

There is a federal law that prohibits the use of radar detectors in any commercial vehicle over 10,000 lbs. The fine for this infraction is incredibly steep, so it’s just better not to take any chances. Laser jammers are illegal in 41 states, and there is a federal law that prohibits them as well. If you are caught with a laser jammer, you could receive a big fine and have the device confiscated by the officer.

Radar Detector Bands

There are several different bands that radar detectors can pick up on, and it is important to know what they are prior to selecting a certain device. The more bands your device can recognize, the less likely it is that you will get pulled over while driving.

X Band

X-band radar detectors are by far the oldest, as they have been around for the longest amount of time. This band operates on a frequency range of 10.5 to 10.55 GHz. It first came into use back in the 1950s, and it is the easiest for radar detector to pick up on. While quite a few police departments still use x-band radar guns, many have started using more sophisticated equipment to catch speeders.

An X-band radar gun can accurately identify the speed of a vehicle from two to four miles away. The performance of this particular band can be affected by the weather. Rain as well as extreme temperatures can render x-band radar guns virtually useless.

K Band

The K-band was introduced in the late 1970s, and it is the x-band’s direct successor. It is one of the most common bands used for speed detection equipment today with a frequency range of 24.05 to 24.25. When this band first came into use, it only worked when used from a stationary vehicle. Later on with some technological developments, it could be used from moving vehicles.

This band functions best in an open environment with minimal obstructions. It doesn’t work well when used behind a wall, for example. A k-band speed gun can detect speeders from ¼ to two miles away.

KA Band

The KA band was introduced in the late 1980s, and it consists of the Ka-Band, KA Wide-Band, and KA Super-Wide-Band. Speed identification equipment that uses this band can actually take a photo of the vehicle that is speeding. This band has a frequency range of 34.2 to 35.2.

The emergence of this new band made it considerably more difficult for people with radar detectors to avoid speed traps. It wasn’t long before companies started coming out with devices that could detect KA-band speed guns. These devices tend to cost more than the basic models, but they are generally regarded as being the best.

BUYING TIP: If you are interested in getting a radar detector, you should look for one that can detect all of the above-listed bands. This will give you the best chance of avoiding a speed trap no matter what type of equipment is being used.

Radar Detector Detectors

Police sometimes use devices that are designed to identify radar detectors in passing vehicles. These RDD devices pick up on the oscillations that are given off by radar detectors. These days there are quite a few radar detectors that will instantly turn off if they detect one of these devices. Some radar detectors will prevent the RDDs from identifying their device so they don’t get pulled over and ticketed.


VG-2 was the first technology used in detecting radar detectors by police. It picks up on frequency band oscillations to identify which vehicles have these devices in them. A vast majority of radar detectors are designed to avoid RDDs that use this technology. This is a fairly old technology that is being used less and less by police, though it is still around.


Spectre RDD devices are definitely the most advanced in every way. This newer technology is very effective because it works on a wide range of frequency bands. While there are radar detectors that can protect drivers against Spectre, the evolving nature of this tech makes it difficult for most devices to work well all of the time.

Features to Look for

There are certain features that you should look for before buying a certain radar detector. These features can make it easier to avoid speed traps and other types of threats on the road. You should not buy one of these devices until you have looked over the following features.

Audio and Visual Alerts

Voice and audio alerts are two of the more common features that you can expect to get with even the most basic radar detector models. The visual alerts usually come in the form of flashing or pulsing lights. Most of these devices have a button that will allow you to mute the audio alerts when you don’t want to hear them. This can be a useful feature if you ever have passengers in the car who want to sleep. Some radar detectors will even let you modify the brightness of the visual alerts so they are just the right level.


Protection Against Instant-ON

It is difficult to protect yourself against Instant-On radar, but getting a radar detector that is sensitive to K-band equipment can help. One of these devices could provide you with enough time to react so you don’t get pulled over, but it depends on the situation. If your vehicle has been directly targeted by Instant-On radar, there is nothing you can do.


Many radar detectors also come equipped with GPS capabilities. A GPS device relies on satellites to get information about an object’s location and sometimes even speed on earth. This technology is important for radar detectors because it helps them adjust their sensitivity depending on the vehicle’s speed. This will save you the effort of having to manually go back and forth with the settings when you are driving in the city or on the highway.

Another benefit of having a radar detector with GPS is that it can store certain areas where alerts have come up in the past. This can help you avoid popular speed trap spots so you can lower your chances of getting pulled over. It will also help you be aware of areas where there is a sudden speed limit change.

A GPS radar detector can remind you when you are in an area with a red light or speed camera as well. There are other models that will provide you with access to a database of locations for speed traps and traffic enforcement cameras. This information can be invaluable when you are trying to avoid getting pulled over and ticketed.

Mobile App Integration

Some radar detectors can be used in conjunction with a mobile app for Android and iOS smartphones. These apps can alert you when you are in an area where there is a threat, such as a red light camera or known speed trap. You can have the alerts go right to your phone through Bluetooth, which can be very convenient.

Corded vs. Cordless

Some radar detectors require the use of a cord, but there are lots of models that are totally cordless. A cordless model will keep frustration to a minimum, and it will look a lot better. You might have to pay a bit extra to get a cordless radar detector, but it is well worth it overall.


Make sure that you look for a radar detector that can pick up on x bands, k bands, ka bands, and ku bands. This will ensure that you are fully protected from all different types of radar guns used by police. The fewer bands that your radar detector can pick up, the more likely you are to get pulled over. Fortunately, a lot of these devices are designed to alert the user of at least x bands and k bands, which are both commonly used.

User-Friendly Design

It is also important that you look for a radar detector that is easy to use. Some of these devices are simpler than others. You will find that most radar detectors aren’t too complicated. All you really have to do is turn it on and let it do its thing. Before you select a certain model, you should find out how easy it is to use. The easier of a time you have using the device, the less likely you will be to get caught speeding.

Tips for Using Your Radar Detector Properly

There are some tips that you can follow to get the most out of your radar detector. A surprisingly number of people with these devices don’t know how to use them properly, and it affects them negatively in the end.

Always Stay Alert

It is important for every driver to stay vigilant at all times while behind the wheel. Many people make the mistake of becoming complacent shortly after putting one of these devices in their vehicle. While a radar detector can certainly be beneficial for avoid tickets, it doesn’t mean that you can switch off your brain while driving.

The very best thing that you can do to keep from getting a ticket is to pay attention to your own driving and the cars around you. Keep in mind that your radar detector cannot protect you in all situations. Even the best of these devices can fail to alert you of a threat, which is all the more reason to remain alert when you are on the road. The more you pay attention to your surroundings in the car, the less likely you will be to get pulled over by the police.

There are some states that employ the use of speed sensors, which are put in the pavement. When a driver triggers the sensor, they get a ticket in the mail shortly after. Keep an eye out for signs that warn of these sensors so you don’t get ticketed.

Mount it Correctly

The way that you go about mounting your radar detector can determine just how effective it is, so you will need to know how to do it properly. The fact is that most people have no idea about the best way to mount these devices, and they end up suffering for it.

Mounting your radar detector too high in your vehicle can result in a ticket if you pass a speed trap. Most police aim their speed guns at the license plate of vehicles. If your radar detector is mounted in the middle of the windshield, there is a good chance it won’t work properly. The center of your windshield is a bad place to mount these devices because it obstructs your view as well. Keep in mind that radar detector California laws prohibit windshield mounting.

It is highly recommended that you mount your radar detector on the dashboard of your vehicle. This low position will make it easier for the device to do its job properly, so you can get your money’s worth. All you need is some Velcro to mount the radar detector to the dash. This should keep the device firmly in place at all times, and it’s actually a more stable option than the windshield. The fact is that most radar detector suction cups do a very poor job of sticking to glass, so they tend to fall off a lot.

Another good reason to mount your radar detector down low is to avoid theft. The more prominently displayed your device is, the more like it is to get stolen out of your vehicle. If the thief decides it is worth the effort, they might even break your window to get it. In this situation, you have lost your radar detector and will have to pay to get a new window for your car.

Using Modes

Radar detectors typically have City and Highway modes, though some have “auto” modes that intuitively select the sensitivity themselves. It is important that you take advantage of these settings so that you can minimize your chances of being ticketed. If you really want to save yourself some effort, get a radar detector that offers an auto mode. This way you won’t have to worry about remembering to go back and forth between modes.

Tips for Buying a New Radar Detector

When you learn about some of these tips for buying a radar detector, you can get exactly what you need without any issues. With all of the different things there are to consider, it is important that you keep this list in mind.

Shop Online

You can get some of the best deals on radar detectors by shopping online. The internet is a great resource for comparing deals on these devices, so you will need to use it to your advantage. You can usually get any radar detector cheaper online. Make sure that you go through a secure website to buy one of these devices so your personal information isn’t at risk. There are tons of places on the internet to buy radar detectors, but not all of them are reputable. Amazon marketplace is one of the best places to look for a radar detector.

You get what you pay for

It is important to keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for with radar detectors. You don’t have to get the absolute most expensive model on the market, but you also shouldn’t buy the cheapest. The more money you are willing and able to spend on a radar detector, the more you will get. This is definitely one thing that you shouldn’t go too cheap on, because it could cost you a lot.

Read Customer Reviews

You should make a point of reading customer reviews for the radar detectors you are interested in buying. These reviews can tell you a lot about each product so that you will know whether or not to consider buying it. It’s always a good idea to avoid any product that has tons of negative reviews and very few positive ones.

There will always be people that want to complain, but it’s still important to read what they have to say. When you see the same complaints in many of the reviews for a certain radar detector, you should be concerned. Spending a little bit of time reading these reviews can help you make the right choice.

Manage Your Expectations

It’s also important to manage your expectations when it comes to what your radar detector is capable of. As stated above, these devices aren’t effective 100% of the time. You shouldn’t buy any radar detector with the expectation that it will never let you down. You can drive confidently knowing you are protected by a high-end radar detector, but you still need to keep an eye out for threats yourself.

Know the Laws in Your State

Never buy a radar detector unless you know what the laws are about them in your state. There are only a couple of states where these devices are illegal, but it’s still important to know. You can refer to the section above entitled “legality of radar detectors” to get this information. The last thing you want to do is buy a radar detector you cannot even use. Radar detector California laws are particularly strict when it comes to these devices.

Radar Detector FAQs

The following are answers to some of the most common questions asked about radar detectors. These answers could help you choose the right device and use it properly, so it’s a good idea to read through them.

  1. Why didn’t my Radar Detector Alert me when I passed a Police Car?

There are a couple of different possibilities in this scenario. The first reason that your radar detector didn’t go off is because the officer wasn’t actively using a radar gun. Not all police have these devices in their cars. Another possibility is that your radar detector is not designed to pick up on the specific band that the officer was using. Some radar detectors cannot identify certain bands, such as ka or ku. There is also a chance that you have your radar detector mounted improperly. The lower your mount the device, the more likely is it work well.

  1. Are Radar Detectors the Same as Radar Jammers?

Radar detectors alert you when radar is being used somewhere near your location. Radio jammers are designed to prevent police radar guns from working properly. While radio jamming devices are certainly useful, they are illegal in every U.S. state. The penalty for being caught with a jammer varies depending on where you live, but the fines are quite substantial. Keep in mind that you will be using one of these devices at your own risk.

  1. Can Police Know my Speed?

If you are using a standard radar detector, a policeman who is using a radar gun will know the speed your vehicle is traveling at. Radar detectors are designed to give you advance notice of speed traps and other threats so you can adjust your driving accordingly. The only way to prevent police from knowing your speed is by using a radar jammer, but such devices are illegal.

  1. Do Radar Detectors Actually Work?

Despite what many people say, radar detectors are still very useful today. Some of these devices work better than others, but there are many models that are incredibly effective. The more time you spend researching your options, the easier it will be to find a model that will serve you well.

  1. What is POP Mode

When you research your radar detector options, you will most likely notice that some of them mention sometimes called POP Mode. This is a feature that was created as a way of getting a vehicle’s speed before radar detectors had a chance to alert the driver. Today there are lots of radar detectors that offer comprehensive protection against POP. If you are looking for one of these devices, it is highly recommended that you look for this particular feature.

  1. What is Photo Radar?

Photo radar refers to devices that independently measure a passing vehicle’s speed for the purpose of catching speeders. While there are currently only a handful of places in the U.S. that use these devices, they are gradually becoming more common. There are radar detectors that you can buy to warn you of these devices, which is incredibly useful depending on where you live. Those who live in an area of the country that uses speed cameras should consider getting a radar detector that issues alerts for them.

  1. What do Radar Detectors Protect against?

There are a number of “threats” that a radar detector can protect you against on the road, including speed traps, red light cameras and speed cameras. It is important to look for a radar detector with a versatile design that offers comprehensive protection.

  1. What CAN’T a Radar Detector do?

Radar detectors cannot tell you if a police car is nearby if a radar or laser gun isn’t in use. If you don’t slow down before you come into view of the police officer, you could get pulled over.

Laser Jammers

While radar jammers are completely illegal in the U.S., laser jammers are not. A lot of radar detectors have 360-degree laser jamming capabilities. This means that the device can prevent laser radar guns from getting a true read on your vehicle’s speed. In some cases, the laser gun that the police officer is using won’t register a reading at all.

The reason that laser jammers work so well is because they are designed to overwhelm the laser gun that is being used by police. This feature will ensure that you don’t get pulled over for speeding if the cop is using a laser radar gun. Not all police use these laser devices, but it has become fairly common. This particular feature can really help you with avoiding being ticketed for speeding.

A laser jammer picks up on the laser beam emitted by the cop’s speed gun, breaks down the signal, and sends back its own invisible ray of light to prevent it from working properly. Radar detectors with laser jammers are NOT ILLEGAL like radar jammers.

If you are going to get a radar detector, make sure that it offers 360-degree protection. This way you will get complete protection from laser radar from all directions. This feature has become fairly standard with most mid to top-tier radar detectors.

You should keep in mind that some laser guns are designed as jam-proof, but they are not incredibly common. There is always the chance that your radar detector will let you down in this case.

Best Radar Detector Brands

With all of the different radar detector brands out there, you should be aware of the better ones that exist. Believe it or not, the brand of radar detector you buy will actually make a big difference. You don’t want to get some cheap off-brand device, because it likely won’t work very well at all.

  • Beltronics: This particular company is known for all of the research it does to create some of the best radar detectors on the market. It is certainly one of the best brands for these devices.
  • Escort: This is probably the brand with the best reputation when it comes to radar detectors. It offers a wide range of devices that have sophisticated designs and top-of-the-line features. They have been making radar detectors for nearly 40 years now, and they are still the best.
  • Uniden: A lot of the top-quality radar detectors on the market come from Uniden. It is another company with a great reputation for making quality products that you shouldn’t ignore when shopping around.

The more attention you pay to the brand of your radar detector, the better your chances will be of finding one you can depend on consistently.


Pacing is a method used by police to determine if a person is speeding or not. While most police officers use speed guns to do this, it’s not always the case. This technique works by measuring the distance between the police car and the other person. Some states have laws that require police to get the speed of the vehicle if they are pacing past a certain distance. The farther away the officer is from your car, the less accurate this method will be. There is no way for radar detectors to protect against this, so it’s something you should keep in mind.

Radar Detector Accessories

There are a number of accessories that you can buy for your radar detector that you should be aware of. Everyone who owns one of these devices should keep a charging cable in their vehicle, even if it is a cordless model. This way you won’t have to worry about your device running out of juice while you are on the road. You can choose to keep the detector plugged in all the time or just keep the cable for when you need it.


You should also make a point of getting a good mount. Some smartphone mounts can be used to hold these devices, but not all. Chances are you can buy a mount that is specifically designed for your model. It is crucial that you get a quality mount that will hold up well. You don’t want to deal with having your radar detector constantly falling down while you are driving.

You could end up spending close to $100 on a high-end radar detector mount, but it can be well worth it. Make sure that you get a mount that will work well with your car’s interior so it doesn’t take up too much space.

Traveling Cases

It’s also recommended that you buy a traveling case for your radar detector. A quality case will keep the device safe and protected when you are transporting it. This item can be very useful if you are planning on traveling somewhere and renting a car. Just make sure you know what the laws are concerning these devices wherever you are going. Keep in mind that radar detector California laws do not allow for windshield mounting or use in commercial vehicles.

Where to Buy

If you want to get the best quality accessories for your radar detector, you should try going through the official manufacturer’s website. There is a good chance that you can get anything you need for your device this way.

Those who decide to buy accessories from another company should do their research. Whether it is mount or a charging cable, you should make a point of finding the best-quality product. There is no point in wasting money on an inferior item.

Final Thoughts

A radar detector can be a great investment for virtually anyone who drives. These devices can be particularly useful if you live in an area where speed cameras and/or red light cameras are used. It is important to consider all of the information in this article before buying a certain device. While a radar detector can be helpful in avoiding tickets, they are not perfect. Even those who use one of these devices should still be vigilant when driving. When you spend some time looking into these devices, you can get one that will benefit you greatly.



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