Radar Detectors for cars have been around in some form for a pretty long time. I remember my mom talking about wanting one in the 90s when photo radar became a thing in BC, though I never understood why someone who purposely drove under the speed limit would want one. Nowadays, radar detectors are available in a couple different mediums, including built into dash cams. Within this blog, I’ll be discussing whether radar detectors are legal in your province and what happens if you’re caught with them. For those provinces where radar detection is legal, I’ll show you a couple of models out there that may be of interest.
Before I begin, however, it bears reminding that a radar detector isn’t encouragement to speed while driving. In fact, most detectors are just that — Detectors. They play no direct role in your own road safety or consequences that come with getting caught speeding.
Are Radar Detectors legal in my province?
The main thing that one should know is that Radar Detectors are not legal east of Saskatchewan, or in the territories. In fact, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan are the only provinces that permit the use of radar detectors in your vehicle. While BC and Alberta have no specific rules against the types of vehicles you can use a radar detector in, you can’t use them in commercial vehicles in Saskatchewan. Police in all of the provinces where radar detectors are illegal have technology onboard to detect vehicles using them through signal leakage.
Please keep in mind that if you are travelling from one of the provinces where it is legal to somewhere it’s illegal, you’ll need to shut off or deactivate your detector. Once we’re all able to start cross-border traveling, for example, you may end up traveling into a state where there might be specific rules around different radar devices. While Maryland is the only state that has rules outright banning the use of radar detectors, some others might have rules against laser defense and laser jamming systems.
What happens if I’m caught with a radar detector?
If you have a radar detector in your vehicle where it’s not permitted, or you have traveled into a province or state with a device that is prohibited, the penalties can vary. Fines should be expected, as well as likely confiscation of the device. Some provinces may also give demerit points toward your license. Depending on where you are, too many demerits could mean more expensive insurance and/or license renewals.
What about Dash Cams with built-in Detectors?
Don’t forget that if you’re in the market for a dash cam, some models may also include some form of radar detection onboard. There aren’t any specific rules or laws around the use of the dash cams themselves, but you’ll want to avoid one with a built-in radar detector if you live in an affected province.
Thinkware also has optional add-ons to their dash cams for radar detection, and many of their cameras come on-boarded with optional red light camera detectors. If you’ve seen my previous reviews on Thinkware cameras, each video includes in-dash audio where you can hear the audible chimes you hear when you approach an intersection with a camera. Are these also illegal in your province? It’s possible.
Many red light cameras nowadays feature MRCD (MultaRadar CD) technology, which many newer radar detectors pick up. Every province may have different regulations, and not every province even the cameras to begin with. Prior to buying one, I would recommend checking with your local insurance provider or police detachment, as they may have more information. In the meantime, I reached out to a couple of police detachments in different provinces to help us understand how they view these types of dash cams. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary responded to confirm that this type of dashcam is prohibited, telling me the following:
“Under the Highway Traffic Act in Newfoundland and Labrador, any device that is able to detect or interfere with a RADAR or another electronic device that can measure speed is illegal.
Punitive sanctions can be administered with a seizure of the device and possible destruction.”
For my readers in NL that are interested in the specifics, here’s a link to the NL Highway Traffic Act.
As I hear back from other provinces, I will continue to update this blog.
The Cobra Road Scout 2-in-1 Radar Detector and Dash Cam
From a far glance, the Cobra Road Scout 2-in-1 Radar Detector and Dash Cam looks like a fancy pair of binoculars. However, hidden within its slick exterior is a pretty powerful interior. The Cobra Road Scout is both a radar detector and dash cam. While capturing footage ahead of you on the road, it also contains sensors for long-range radar and laser detection.
In addition to this, it captures your drives in 1080p and is Wi-Fi enabled so that you can view everything on an app rather than having to remove the memory card and watch back on your PC. The Road Scout also has voice alerts enabled so that you can remain hands off while driving.
As shown in the image above, there aren’t any large LCD screens, so there’s very little you’ll need to do on the interface anyway. Lastly, the Road Scout does encourage community involvement. The iRadar App connects to your camera via Bluetooth to provide community radar updates, and a database captures what is out and about in surrounding areas.
The Escort Max3 Radar Detector with MRCD
If you have a dash cam (or aren’t interested in one but would still like a radar detector), the Escort Max3 Radar Detector might be what you’re looking for. This pocket sized detector identifies and notifies you with real-time radar detection updates. It has MRCD (MultaRadar CD) detection, which is some of the newest technology out there. As I mentioned above, it’s currently used very commonly in newer red light cameras.
The Max3 also has the ability to differentiate between accurate and false reporting, and it will access your local speed limits to display and discourage you from speeding.
Like the Cobra Road Scout, its alerts are all done through voice and audio so that you can stay hands free, and it comes with an app to get real-time warnings. Lastly, the Escort3 also comes with a database to offer you local information for your area.
Now that you’re in the know about whether or not radar detectors are legal in your province, those of you that can get one might be interested to know that you can look at the Cobra and Escort models along with some other radar detectors online at BestBuy.ca. Be safe on the roads! If you know about whether or not red light detectors are illegal in your area or province too, please feel free to let us know in the comments.