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We have all seen the disclaimer when shopping for car modifications: “not for use on public roads.” Some people take that warning seriously, and others completely ignore it. You should recognize that it is not only performance modifications that can be deemed illegal for road use. There is a whole industry of other car accessories that are frowned upon by law enforcement and can potentially get the owners in a lot of trouble.

How much trouble can these illegal car accessories get someone in? That is what James and Jeremiah from Donut Media set out to learn. The pair bought a shopping list of potentially illegal car accessories, installed them on their Volkswagen Jetta project car to see if they worked, and then consulted a lawyer to find out just how illegal these products are. 

It is very important to note that what you see in the video below and what you read here is not legal advice! If you want to know if any car accessories or modifications you have are legal or not, consult your local and state laws. 

With that said, we will take a look at a few of the items Donut Media tested out and what they learned about their legality.

Is a radar detector illegal?

A small black and blue radar detector device.
A radar detector device | Amazon

The legality of radar detectors varies by state in America. According to the video, it is legal to own a radar detector in California, but it is illegal to mount it on a windshield. The video explains that in other states, it is 100% illegal to own a radar detector at all. We will once again say that you should check your local laws before purchasing a product like this.

Did the radar detector that they bought work? It turns out that in their very unscientific test, the detector did set off an alert when they pointed their own radar gun at it. However, it did not work particularly well. What did their lawyer have to say about it? Well, according to them, in California, mounting a radar detector on the windshield could result in a $500 fine. In other states where it is illegal to own a radar detector, fines could be much higher.

Is it illegal to have red and blue lights on your car?

A red and blue novelty light kit.
Red and blue light kit | Amazon

No matter what city and state you live in, making your car appear like a law enforcement vehicle is never legal. Any car accessories that could potentially cause someone to mistake your vehicle for a police vehicle are definitely illegal. Would you want to be in an emergency situation and run to what you think is a police car for help, only to find out that it’s just a random dude named Bob? We think not.

On that note, the Donut Media crew did buy a red and blue light and siren set, and it did, in fact, work. It is hard to mess up some led lights and a PA system, so the result was to be expected. According to Donut Media’s lawyer consultant, the lights are technically alright to own and use on private property. However, using them on public roads can result in “several citations” and possibly even a felony if it’s found that someone intentionally wanted to impersonate law enforcement.

What car accessories are illegal?

We only pointed out two potentially illegal car accessories, but the Donut Media video covers much more. Some of those accessories you may already expect to be illegal, but some others might surprise you. We think it is always best to stick to the safe side and always check your local laws before installing any aftermarket accessory or performance part on your car.


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