Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Radar Love

I've always thought it was odd that Virginia is the only state in the nation to ban radar detectors, especially given the Commonwealth's long history supporting individual freedom.

May Introduces Legislation to Repeal Radar Ban By Suzanne Wilder The Winchester Star -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Virginia might allow radar detectors in the next few months if a new bill passes in the General Assembly. The legislation, introduced by Del. Joe T. May, R-Leesburg, would repeal the ban on the use and sale of radar detectors in Virginia. The commonwealth is the only state in the nation that bans the detectors. May said the devices could actually be safety aids by reminding drivers to slow down. “Is your objective to keep people in the speed limit, or is your objective to issue citations?” May asked about the current ban. And the signs on state borders — which tell drivers that radar detectors are illegal — are a “rude welcome” for visitors, he said. Opponents, like some local law enforcement agencies, said the ban on detectors can be a deterrent to speeding. Lt. Mike Richardson, who heads traffic enforcement for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, said speeding is just as dangerous as not wearing a seat belt. Troopers with the Virginia State Police use “radar detector detectors” to catch some drivers, said Sgt. F.L. Tyler. “We feel they’re used to circumvent speed enforcement,” he said. Drivers who have a radar detector that is accessible to a power source — even if it’s not plugged in — can receive a traffic citation for the offense. Sheriff’s deputies in Frederick and Clarke counties said they usually catch people with detectors after pulling them over for other citations, such as speeding. The standard fine for using a radar detector is $40, plus a court processing fee of $56. Radar detector sales are illegal in Virginia. Though law enforcement agencies do not keep track of where violators are from, conventional wisdom points to out-of-state drivers as the majority of citations. “The encounters that I’ve personally had are all out of state,” Richardson said. And Clarke County Deputy Travis Sumption said the majority he has caught with the devices are from other states. If the bill passes, radar detectors would be allowed July 1. But police have found ways to work around the devices. Sumption said some radar guns have “holds” on them, so they don’t fire until a car is driving past. Detectors would not pick up the radar until police tracked their speed — too late to slow down. In 2005, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office gave 24 citations for radar detectors, Richardson said. That number was a decrease from 2004, when 31 radar detector citations were given. The state police and the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office do not track the number of radar detector citations they give in a year.


At 1/24/2006 10:00:00 AM, Blogger James Young said...

I've often wondered whether the law barring radar detectors wasn't challengeable on preemption grounds, i.e., that the various federal telecommunications laws protecting the right of citizens to receive signals preclude this type of state legislation. I've never developed the theory --- too much legal work to do for which I get paid --- and I suspect that one reason such a challenge has never been mounted is that it's never been worth the money to an attorney who has been cited.

That having been said, I own one, and use it ... when I'm outside the Commonwealth.

At 1/24/2006 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Hirons said...

All I care about is I could finally stop having the "that's a stupid law" conversation whenever out-of-state family and friends visit and we're in their car with radar detectors!

At 1/24/2006 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

Plus then Best Buy can remove the fineprint from their weekly circulars under their ads for radar detectors that say, "Not available in Virginia."

At 1/24/2006 11:34:00 AM, Blogger w00t said...

Irrelevant since everyone is moving to laser - not that it isn't without problems as well. Just go google "problems with laser speed guns" and you can see what I mean. On the other hand, if the bill is amended to allow radar AND laser detectors I might be interested. Right now, it is nothing more than Feel Good Legislation IMHO.

At 1/24/2006 12:27:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

wOOt --- Most modern radar detectors (certainly mine) also detects laser. Of course, the problem with laser is that it's almost instantaneous.

At 1/27/2006 12:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What every driver needs - especially in Virginia - is a radar detector that would record their speed at time of detection. At least in court you have technological proof should policeman exaggerate speed, radar machine not accurate, or cop outright lies - IT HAPPENS. These small Virginia hick towns (Check out Dinwiddie, VA) use the Interstates passing through their jurisdictions as income producing cottage industries. And the Judges back their "good ole boys" to the hilt. God help the driver who challenges the ticket in court. I did and the Judge reacted like I had slapped her mother.

Virginia wants radar detectors to remain illegal because it produces income --- no other reason.


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