In the state of Indiana, just like the weather, the rules of the road can be quite unpredictable. One minute you are driving comfortably, following what you believe is the speed limit, and the next, you are blinking in surprise at a speeding ticket. This is an all too familiar situation for many Hoosier drivers. It often raises an important question: would a radar detector installed in your vehicle have prevented this? But before you rush to buy one, stop and consider whether or not radar detectors are permissible under Indiana law.

Back View from a Cars Mirror

What are Radar Detectors?

In the 1960s and 1970s, as law enforcement agencies around the country started using radar guns to enforce speed limits more strictly, there was a growing market for devices that could alert drivers to these speed traps. And thus, the radar detector was born. It allowed drivers and motorcyclists to be aware of when they were in the vicinity of a police radar gun, giving them the chance to reduce their speed and avoid getting a speeding ticket.

Today, radar detectors have become much more sophisticated with features like GPS, the ability to differentiate between several types of radar signals, and connectivity to networks that share real-time updates on speed enforcement locations.

They work by scanning for radio waves emitted by radar guns or speed guns used by police. These speed radars send out radio waves to measure the speed of a vehicle. When these waves hit your car, some of them bounce back to the radar and tell the police how fast you are going.

Once your detector picks up these radio waves, it alerts you, usually through a sound or visual signal. This warning gives you a chance to check your speed and slow down if necessary.

Is it Legal to Use a Radar Detector in Indiana?

The good news is that radar detectors, also known as speed trap detectors, are legally permitted for use in Indiana, but only for privately-owned passenger vehicles. This includes cars, SUVs, and light trucks used for personal, non-commercial purposes. Moreover, there is no specific prohibition against the use of radar detectors on motorcycles in Indiana, so they are generally considered legal.

In addition to radar detectors, laser jammers are also legal for use in passenger vehicles in the state. Unlike radar detectors, laser jammers may actively interfere with police LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) by emitting a signal that confuses the speed reading. LIDAR is a remote sensing technology that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances. Many police officers now use LIDAR guns as an alternative to traditional radar guns because they are more effective at measuring speed and harder to detect with regular radar detectors.

Is it Legal to Use a Radar Jammer in Indiana?

There is a difference between laser jammers and radar jammers. Police radar jammers are illegal in the United States under federal law, as they interfere with radio communications, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In sync with the federal law, the use of radio jammers in vehicles is illegal in Indiana.

How are these different from laser jammers? Well, police speed guns use radio waves to measure a vehicle’s speed. A radar jammer emits radio frequency signals that confuse the radar gun, preventing it from accurately reading the vehicle’s speed.

Radio waves are widely used in almost all communication and navigation systems beyond law enforcement. Since radio waves are so vital for many essential services (like aviation, maritime, military, and emergency communications), the federal government, specifically the FCC, strictly regulates their use. Interfering with these waves can disrupt mission-critical communications. As a result, the use of radar jammers is illegal in the U.S..

Laser jammers, on the other hand, only target LIDAR technology, which uses light waves, not radio waves. The regulation of light waves, especially in the form of lasers used by police LIDAR guns, is less stringent compared to radio waves because their use is less likely to interfere with broad communication systems.

Are Radar Detectors Legal in Commercial Motor Vehicles in Indiana?

The use of radar detectors is strictly prohibited in commercial vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. This law applies to any large truck, semi-truck, bus, or utility vehicle operating within the state of Indiana, regardless of where it is registered. Violating this rule can lead to serious fines and loss of the driver’s commercial license (CDL).

If you are driving a vehicle registered in another state where radar detectors are illegal, it is still legal to use them in Indiana as long as you comply with Indiana’s laws (i.e., not in a commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds).

Can a Radar Detector Be Used as Evidence of Speeding in a Crash Case in Indiana?

Although it is generally legal to own or use a speed detector (radar detector) in Indiana passenger vehicles, it can sometimes be perceived as an intent to speed or disregard traffic laws. If you were injured in a car accident, and your personal injury lawyer is able to establish that the other driver was using a radar detector at the time of the crash, it could be argued as indicative of that driver’s habit of speeding.

Depending on the facts of the case, your lawyer might be able to use the presence of a detector to build a narrative around the at-fault driver’s behavior and attitude towards safe driving. Notably, this alone will not prove that the other motorist was speeding; you will also need to provide eyewitness testimony, surveillance camera footage, police reports, accident reconstruction expert opinions, or other evidence to build a strong case.

Crashed Cars on a Street

Get a Proven Car Accident Attorney in Indiana on Your Side

At Wagner Reese, LLP, we have helped numerous car accident victims and the families of those who lost their lives in vehicle collisions get justice over the past two decades. Whether you are injured or lost someone dear to you because of another driver’s negligence, the last thing you need to be worrying about is fighting with the insurance company.

Let our experienced car accident lawyers handle the legal process and help you recover maximum possible financial damages. We work on a contingency fee basis and will only get paid if you are compensated. Call us at (866) 440-1305 or complete this online form to schedule a free case review.