Are Radar Detectors Legal in Oklahoma?
We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the highway when, off in the distance, you spot a police car tucked away in the trees lining the road. The officer is outside of his car, pointing his radar gun at passing vehicles, on the hunt for drivers going over the speed limit. The brake lights begin appearing in front of you, but it’s too late for that yellow hot rod a few cars ahead. The cop’s radar gun has detected the driver was going too fast and the cop has already slid back into his car to begin the chase. You think to yourself, “Phew! I’m glad I’m not that guy.” But, what if there was a way for you, as the driver, to be able to know ahead of time whether a cop was using a radar gun nearby? There is!
What is a radar detector?
The traditional radar detector is an electronic device that senses most radar technologies the police force uses. The radar detector can detect signals traveling on various wavelength bands. In the U.S., those bands are normally either X, K, or Ka.1 The technology boom of current times has now rendered many traditional detectors useless against what cops are using now—both radars and lasers. However, there are new radar detectors out which locate radar and lasers and use GPS to map locations of speed traps.2 These modern radar detectors, which do much more than detect solely radars, are available for sale to the public; if you are in the market for a radar detector, be sure the technology is up-to-date.
A radar detector may sound appealing to you, and you may be considering searching online to purchase one, but you must know, using a radar detector is not legal in all states!
Am I breaking Oklahoma law?
Unless you live in Virginia or Washington D.C., or are on a military base, you are allowed to own and use a radar detector in a normal vehicle, such as a car or light truck (No commercial vehicles in any state are allowed to use radar detectors!). There are, however, laws restricting the type of technology used within the detector and where they are located in your vehicle, which vary state to state.3
For example, in about half of U.S. states, the driver is not allowed to suction the detector to the windshield, on the grounds that this placement can obstruct the driver’s view of the road and his or her surroundings.3 There are two types of radio jamming technology: radar and laser. This technology is essentially used to send out signals that “confuse” the radar gun.3 Radar jammers are illegal in every U.S. state, while only a handful of states have outlawed laser jammers.
If you live in Oklahoma, you should know that, in passenger cars, radar detectors are absolutely legal to own and use, but laser jammers are illegal in this state. (Remember, radar jammers are illegal across the U.S.) In OK, police are currently using radar guns which emit K and Ka band wavelengths. Oklahoma police employ the use of LIDAR (laser) guns to track speed as well.4 Just like in every other state, in OK, commercial vehicles are absolutely prohibited from using radar detectors at any time.
Other Methods: Just Myths?
Almost everywhere in the country, drivers may legally use radar detection equipment, with some safeguards against placement in the vehicle and technology added to the device. Radar detectors appear to be the most reliable method of protection against getting busted speeding down the road, other than my highly recommended method of simply obeying the speed limit laws, of course. But drivers have been testing out tons of methods outside of the radar detector to beat the heat of the law. From disco balls to tin foil, drivers will do anything (except stop speeding) to avoid a ticket.
One type of technology on the market is called stealth coating. Stealth coating is a paint that is supposed to absorb lasers, thus making it very difficult to track your speed with a laser gun. The paint is applied to headlights and license plates. As of 2006, stealth coating was legal in all states, but I recommend checking your local laws before investing.5
The popular TV show, Myth Busters, has discovered many older methods are really just myths. It was rumored that hanging either a small disco ball or CDs from your rear-view mirror could keep a radar or laser gun from working. Obviously, this myth was busted, and because CDs can be very dangerous, they are not only ineffective, but also illegal to have hanging. Some people tried covering their hubcaps in tin foil; busted. What about covering the entire car in tin foil? Yes, the attempt has been made. No, it didn’t work. Another attempted strategy was painting the car matte black. Matte paint is only a style choice. The matte finish does nothing to effect the radars or lasers. Finally, I would like to note that the Myth Busters did not attempt using stealth coating so, even with a name that awesome, the effectiveness of this paint remains unclear.6
Modern day radar detectors are capable of detecting both radar and lasers, and most have built in GPS technology, providing further capabilities to the driver. In Oklahoma, as long as your radar detector does not include either type of radio jammer and you are not on a military base, you are driving legally. From the research I’ve done, there do not appear to be any laws on the books regarding the mounting of your radar detector in Oklahoma, but it is always a good idea to ask around—better safe than sorry! There are many online forums and chat groups available to discuss the matter and ask any further questions you may have. Stay safe, speed demons!