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Are radar detectors illegal in Maryland? 

Radar detectors are a lifesaver for those of us on the roads that have a need for speed. Radar detectors detect the frequency of the speed-detecting guns used by law enforcement. As these radar guns have advanced and increased their range, so have radar detectors. Originally, basic radar detectors could only detect if you were coming up on a police officer, as they were in front of your vehicle. If an officer were to catch you speeding from the sides or while behind you, you were straight out of luck. Recent technology has allowed radar detectors to have a 360-degree range of detection; letting us speed demons feel even more freedom on the highway than before.

I have a strong tendency to speed myself; a trait that I blame on a gene I claim was passed onto me from my mom and dad. This being said, I invested in a radar detector with the proper technology to alert me from all directions if a police officer was ready to clock me for going over the speed limit. On a recent road trip down to Florida, I plugged my destination into the GPS on my phone and it gave me an estimated 20-hour drive from my home in New Jersey. My competitive side decided that I needed to beat the GPS by getting to the sunshine state in significantly less time than it had estimated for me. My gas tank was full, and I purchased all necessary road trip snacks and significant amounts of caffeine to get my drive started. I took my radar detector out of my center console, and mounted my reliable road trip buddy onto my dashboard.

After about 4 hours of driving, I pulled off of the highway to find some gas. I was in Maryland at that time and decided to see if I was ahead of the GPS. Sure enough, I had gained a few minutes on the original time. After filling my tank to full gain, I got back in my car and jumped back on the interstate. I merged into the middle lane and cruised up to 90 miles per hour: it was time to get back the few minutes I had just lost at the gas station.

Then my radar detector let out a small warning beep as I was coming around a bend. I brushed it off momentarily, as a few other cars seemed to be keeping up with my speed. I thought, “Hey, he can’t pull all of us over.” I have never received a speeding ticket ever, thankfully, since I definitely didn’t have room for one in my budget. My radar detector began to beep more as I drove on, and I switched off my cruise control and let my car coast down to a more appropriate speed. I finished rounding the bend and before I was back on a straight neck of the road, red and blue lights were speeding up to my car. I moved over to the right lane to let the officer by, and just a little ways up the road, he pulled over a silver sedan that I was keeping up with moments before.

Wow, I was relieved I decided to slow down. Regardless of the all the other cars going that speed, he still clocked this one driver and chased him down. That’s around $300 just for speeding, plus points on your license, and then I looked at my radar detector. Is having one of these even legal in Maryland? If I hadn’t slowed down, would I have been hit with an additional fine on top of my speeding citation?

At my next stop, a quick Google search would alleviate some of my panic. If I had been about an hour more south than I had been, in Washington D.C. then I would have been issued an additional fine for having my radar detector. In the state of Maryland, however, radar detectors are legal for drivers to utilize, as it is in almost every state in the United States. They are illegal on military bases and in commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds.

The exception to this is in Washington D.C., and in Virginia. Here, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with any type of device used to detect police equipment that monitors a vehicle’s speed. That being said, it might seem a little silly and overly cautious to shut down and put away my radar detector passing through Washington D.C. and Virginia on my drive down to Florida. However, radar detector detectors exist, and are actually used by law enforcement. These devices can pick up signals emitted by radar detectors. As I said before, a speeding ticket was not in my budget, so neither was a fine for having my radar detector.

So, are radar detectors legal in Maryland?

Yes, but be aware of when you’re passing through Washington D.C. and over the border to Virginia. Also, use caution if you are using a laser jammer or radar jammer. Because laser jammers only emit a beam of light to prevent a proper speed-reading, they are legal in most states, except, you guessed it, D.C. and Virginia. Radar jammers are completely illegal in all 50 states, including Maryland, so it is highly recommended that anyone with a heavy foot doesn’t go the extra mile to purchase one of these devices.

When all is said and done, there is one, guaranteed method to never getting a speeding ticket, no matter what states or territory you wander into: do not exceed the speed limit. It’s that simple. For those of us who have places to be and people to see, and cannot bear to let the GPS be correct about the duration of our drives, there’s radar detectors. While some radar detector models can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars, they have a serious return on investment for those same people. Regardless of your speeding choices and radar detector ownership, remember to always, always drive alert and drive sober.

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