As automakers continue to improve their vehicles’ performance, the need for speed is more prevalent than ever before. Drivers with a lead foot might wonder about police radar jammers and laser jammers to help keep them out of trouble. That’s because getting pulled over for exceeding the speed limit can result in a costly violation and sometimes a court appearance. Adrenaline junkies often invest in accessories that can keep them from getting a dreaded speeding ticket.
Though radar jammers and laser jammers have proven effective, the question remains, are they legal? And how do they work?
How radar jammers and laser jammers work
RELATED: 3 Best Radar Detectors Money Can Buy
Radar-jamming technology is not a new concept. It has been frustrating cops and saving drivers from pricey speeding tickets for decades.
Today’s radar jammers, though illegal, transmit a signal to overpower data sent to police radar guns. Autoblog explains that “radar guns emit bursts of electromagnetic radiation at a set frequency. The signals bounce off a target vehicle, returning to the gun. The computer in the gun measures the differential between the reflected waves to calculate vehicle speed.”
Because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the frequencies used in radar guns, using a radar jammer is a federal offense. Some companies try to get around this by selling radar scramblers that don’t transmit a signal. But critics are wary, and according to Speed Measurement Labs, they “don’t work in real-world scenarios.”
Laser jammers, on the other hand, use ultraviolet invisible lightwaves instead of radar signals. When a narrow beam of light hits a passing vehicle, the jammer confuses the signal sent back to the laser gun and registers an incorrect measurement.
“Radar” Roy Reyer, a retired police officer, told Autoblog: “Imagine you’re shining a 20-watt flashlight at my car and hoping to catch a reflection off my license plate, but instead of the reflection, I shine a 500-watt light back at you. You’ll be blinded. That’s the principle of the laser jammers and scramblers.”
States that allow radar jammers and laser jammers
The FCC has banned radar jammers. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates laser jammers. This distinction transfers the law-making decisions regarding laser-jamming technology to states instead of the federal government.
Radar detectors, which use the principles of laser jamming, are legal in every state except Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to Automoblog. Virginia police can confiscate a unit if they stop a driver for speeding and issue a fine of up to $250.
In 1994, the Federal Highway Administration deemed it illegal for commercial vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds to operate a radar detector, the Los Angeles Times reported. The FHA created the law to deter 18-wheeler drivers from speeding.
Laser jammers are legal in states except for California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. They are also illegal in Washington, D.C.
How police know when you’re using a jammer
Police radar guns are effective because it’s impossible to predict when and where the speeding checkpoint will be. Law enforcement officers are aware of the technology drivers use and make changes to their equipment accordingly. Gizmodo reports that police officers often change their radar frequencies to confuse signals sent from laser and radar jammers.
Police units often use a radar detector detector (RDD) that, according to Buy Radar Detectors, “allows law enforcement to locate and identify vehicles in which a radar detection has been placed or installed and is in active operation. Many law enforcement agencies have them, especially in areas where radar detectors are restricted or not allowed.”
The easiest and most reliable way to avoid a speeding ticket and stay safe is to drive under the limit. But if you can’t stop yourself from putting the pedal to the metal, consider a laser jammer that meets your state guidelines.