Is it Illegal to Hang an Air Freshener From Your Rearview Mirror?

Once upon a time, it was cool to hang a pair of fuzzy dice from your rearview mirror, but if that type of personalization didn’t suit your style, then a graduation tassel or air freshener would usually do the trick. And while that “new car” scented freshener might make your car’s interior smell nice while it’s dangling from your rearview mirror, in actuality, it could lead you to get pulled over by the police.

An American flag air freshener hangs from the rearview mirror of a cab.
An American flag air freshener hangs from the rearview mirror of a cab. | (Photo by Greg Kahn/Getty Images)

Hanging objects from your car’s rearview mirror is illegal in some states

While it might sound absurd to get pulled over for hanging an air freshener, or something non-threatening, from your car’s rearview mirror, you should know that it is illegal to do so in some states.

According to Scott’s Fort Collins Auto, the Colorado law states:

No vehicle shall be operated upon any highway unless the driver’s vision through any required glass equipment is normal and unobstructed. An air freshener hanging from a rearview mirror is not an automatic violation of subsection (4). The air freshener must actually obstruct the driver’s vision to be a violation.

That’s a pretty clear and specific outline that it’s illegal for objects, like an air freshener, to obstruct the driver’s view out of the windshield. However, in other states, like California, the law is a little less clear:

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A person shall not drive a car with any object or material placed, affixed, or installed on the vehicle which obstructs or reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield or side windows.

This law doesn’t exactly state objects hanging from the rearview mirror, however, it leaves it up for interpretation even for the police, who can pull you over. WCVB states that it’s illegal to hang things from your rearview mirror in other states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Virginia as well.

But no matter what state you’re in, it’s probably best not to hang anything from your car’s rearview mirror.

Hanging anything from your review mirror can damage it

In addition to the possibility of an object, like an air freshener, obstructing the view below your car’s rearview mirror, there is also the possibility of causing damage to the mirror itself. Many rearview mirrors are attached to the windshield with a high-strength adhesive, which can weaken over time.

If you end up attaching something heavy – like those aforementioned fuzzy dice – your car’s rearview mirror could break off while you’re driving. If that happens, not only will you have to reattach the mirror, but it’ll be harder to drive without the ability to see out the back of the car.

View of three crosses on the side of a highway, as seen through the rearview mirror of a car.
View of three crosses on the side of a highway, as seen through the rearview mirror of a car. | (Photo by Bromberger Hoover Photo/Getty Images)

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Air fresheners can get you pulled over

While getting pulled over by the police for a seemingly innocuous offense like hanging one of those Little Trees from your rearview mirror might sound like overkill, some police don’t think so.

According to WCVB, many police nationwide have stood by the right to pull people over for objects hanging from their mirrors, as those types of stops have led to rightful arrests regarding drugs, weapons, and even human trafficking.

However, for the casual driver that simply wants to express some of their personality through a dangling trinket in the car’s rearview mirror, it’s probably best to not have anything at all.