Very few states prohibit the use of radar detectors, citing them as nuisances that can distract the driver, encourage speeding, allow offenders to escape law enforcement agents, and pose a safety hazard by blocking the driver’s view.
The majority of the states in the country find radar detectors to be helpful, enabling drivers to stick to legal speed limits and avoid getting penalized.
So, which category does Washington belong to? Are radar detectors legal in Washington state?
Washington state (not to be confused with the capital district of Washington, D.C.) legally permits the use of radar detectors within the state. However, there are some caveats as discussed in this article.
Detector Mounting Point
Washington state allows drivers and vehicle owners to mount radar detectors on their windshields. A high position allows the device to detect better and farther, which is why many vehicle owners choose to mount their radar detectors on this surface.
However, ensure that the mounted detector doesn’t get in the way of your driving, either by blocking your vision or serving as a distraction. If you’re driving cross-country, it may be best to mount your radar detector on the dashboard or visor.
Concerns With Commercial Vehicles
All privately owned vehicles can own and use radar detectors in Washington.
When it comes to commercially owned vehicles, no state allows commercially owned vehicles over 10,000 lbs to possess or use radar detectors, in line with federal law. Vehicles below this limit may use radar detectors.
This is a measure taken to curb dangerous speeding in heavy vehicles — around 10% of road accidents in the country are caused by speeding heavy vehicles.
Federal law prohibits the use of radar detectors and similar devices on and in close proximity to military bases.
If you have a visibly mounted radar, you will need to take it down before entering a base or driving by.
The sale, possession, and use of radar detectors and similar devices are outlawed in Washington, D.C., and Virginia. In these areas, violations of this law can attract heavy fines (between $100 and $300) and confiscation of the device, at the time of writing.
In some states, such as Texas and California, radar detectors are not illegal, but mounting them on the windshield can be.
The police can detect radar detectors by using radar detector-detectors (RDDs). These handy devices pick up signals leaked from radar detectors, allowing authorities to locate the vehicle using radar. RDDs are commonplace in states where radar detectors are illegal.
In addition to this, the authorities use advanced technology such as LiDAR (more precise, detailed, and accurate technology that uses light waves, instead of radio waves, to 3D-map the area). This helps police easily detect and catch speeding vehicles, and thereby, any radar detectors in the vehicle.
Washington State Info
Named after the first President of the United States, the state of Washington was admitted into the Union in 1889.
It lies in the northwestern region of the country and borders Idaho, Oregon, the Pacific Ocean and British Columbia.
The state has 39 counties in total. Seattle is not only its largest city in terms of area but also its most populous city. The state’s forests are the most extensive in the country, with over half of the land falling under forested areas.
Registered vehicles: 7,257,401
Total lane miles: 167,632
Number of highways: 3