Friday, July 20, 2012


DEAR SERGEANT AL: I was thinking about replacing my radar detector to wonder before I do if they actually are worth the money. So what’s your opinion? Do radar detectors really work? –RADIATION AND DANGER ARE REASONS TO WONDER IF NO KIT IS ECONOMICAL.

DEAR RADAR TWINKIE: I tell people that when it comes to detectors, jammers, apps, and traffic enforcement, technology is only as good as to how it is being used, if at all. If you don’t know how to use it properly, or you don’t use it at all, your enforcement detection technology is not going to work, or it will not serve you well.  Most importantly, using technology is no guarantee that you will never get a ticket either. First off, what’s the point of spending all that money on a radar/lidar detector or jammer, and have it decorate your glove compartment like a useless Tchotchke for the life of your car? And even if you use the damn thing, what’s the point of using it if you don’t know how to use it properly?

There lies the problem with traffic enforcement detection technology: it is a tool like any other, in many ways no different than the tools the police use to ticket you, and just because you have it and use it like any tool, doesn’t necessarily mean or guarantee that whatever you use it on or for is fixed. Sometimes the best mechanic in the world has to go back to re-fix what he thought was fixed and still broken. After taking your device out of the glove box and blowing off the dust, have you ever read the owner’s manual to know how to use it properly? Most people don’t even do that to know for certainty how to use their police detection technology. Most police departments because of budget constraints rarely update or replace their technology to use the same enforcement devices for years. Many departments nowadays are having problems paying their cops let alone for new equipment. Are you sure it’s necessary to replace your detector or jammer?

Regardless of what you decide to do, the following are six things you need to consider in buying/using traffic enforcement detection technology:

1.    Are you going to use the device at all? If not, then you’re wasting your money and I’m wasting my time answering your question. There’s just no sense in spending a few hundred dollars to buy an effective electronic device to alert or circumvent enforcement that may cost several hundred or a few thousand dollars in tickets, fines, lawyers, and insurance surcharges, if it is not going to hardly be used at all, if ever. Don't waste your money buying an updated one and leave your old one in the glove box.

2.   Shop around and know what kind of device you need. Do the police use radar or lidar or both where you do most of your driving? Maybe then you need a detector. Do you have a lot of photo enforcement traps where you drive? Instead of a detector, maybe you just need a photo enforcement smart phone app. Try to find out what the police use in the area where you will be doing most of your driving (please don’t ask me to find this out for you, that is where I draw the line at that so-called “blue wall of silence”), and once you do, that’s the kind of detector/jammer/app you want to buy. The best place to find information like this is to start with the company that makes the detector/jammer device you’re shopping for, because there’s a good chance they’re the same company that also makes enforcement devices for the police to give you a ticket. Another place are Internet forums, but also try to find whatever records you can find online through government and law enforcement websites (police, sheriff’s office, DOT) that post accident-prone locations and statistics. The insurance industry can also be helpful in finding out these kinds of things. See if your local AAA office can help you find what the cops use in your target area to conduct speed and signal light enforcement. Pay closer attention to what they’re using next time you see them ticketing motorists for speeding. This way, you increase the chances of whatever device you decide to buy and use will do the best job and decrease the chances of you being caught in a violation.

3.   Know your device: Once you buy the device, know for certain how to use it. Make sure you read the owner’s manual thoroughly to know how to PROPERLY USE the device, and know what the device’s limitations are. By doing this you also keep your expectations of the device in check. You’ll have a better idea when false alarms occur and under what circumstances when the device is most effective/ineffective. Once you find the kind of detector/jammer that you need, are you buying the latest technology, and will you need to use the latest technology? Knowing these kinds of things about your new device will make a difference between getting a ticket or not, and saving money for technology you may not need. Also, knowing this information will make you better understand the device’s guarantee for things like the terms of a full refund if it doesn’t work and you get a ticket anyway.
This car has a radar jamming device installed in the grille to defeat police radar devices.
4.   Know the law: under what circumstance, which states, jurisdictions, vehicles, and class of driver’s licenses allow the use of such a device and know when you can’t use it. It makes no sense to use these devices if they’re prohibited in some jurisdictions under certain circumstances, and if discovered in your possession or while in your use, you can be ticketed or arrested. In the United States, for example, even though they are sold in a lot of places if you know where to look, especially on the Internet, radar jammers are ILLEGAL for military reasons. Know this fact before you install a radar-jamming device in your car and get yourself into trouble.
5.    Be realistic and use common sense when using them. Just because you are using a detector or a jammer, that shouldn’t give you hubris, carte blanche, or gravitas to start speeding or driving recklessly.  If you use a detector/jammer strictly to get out of a ticket, then you are missing the point to actually expedite the process toward suspension/revocation. If used properly and effectively, detectors and jammers can be great safety tools to help you slow down. Some of my colleagues may not agree with me, but any chance that a device gives a motorist to knowingly slow down for other than an upcoming speed trap or for whatever else is coming on a road that’s about danger, is a welcoming opportunity to invite more safety on the road. A radar device either owned by you or the police is going to make you slow down. That’s twice the chance of staying out of an accident as far as I’m concerned. If your device doesn’t slow you down, what makes anyone think that a cop’s device won’t do anything different? To shun jammers, apps, and detectors as speed enablers is denying the fact that we all speed at one time or another in our lives. Even a US Supreme Court Judge admitted a few days ago in a prime time television interview that even he has been caught breaking the law by speeding in his lifetime. Habitual speeders are going to speed no matter what, so if adding a device is going to expedite the process of them losing their license, then so be it. Unfortunately if someone loses their life during that process, a radar detector wouldn’t have stopped them from killing that person with their car. That is NOT the reason the technology was created. If we subscribe to that supposition, then the solution for the problem speeder is eliminating his access/use of his CAR, not just the detector then the license. Otherwise, it will just be a matter of time before his/her license will be suspended or revoked for speeding ANYWAY . . .
The sure bet way of taking full advantage of enforcement detection technology is to do what this motorist is doing and use a combination of all kinds all at once. This way, at least one device will assist you in ensuring you stay within the confines of the law if not your predetermined limits on the road.

6.   The most effective way of using technology is to use a combination of all of them. Want my opinion of the best way of reducing the chance of getting a ticket using electronic technology? Use a combination of all of them at the same time, this way, you’ll have a fail safe to ensure at least one of them is working properly. So set up your jammer, your lidar AND radar detector, AND take out your Android or iPhone. Set up and launch Trapster or whatever app you use that warns of upcoming photo enforcement and has an alert when you are exceeding the speed limit, or approaching pedestrian or school zones, frequent police enforcement areas, or your preset arrest speed. The more devices the better. Doing this will almost ensure that something will warn you so you won’t get a traffic ticket. Until the day you finally do . . .

To better help you understand how to use detection technology, may I suggest you go back to read some of my previous posts:

There you have it RADAR TWINKIE, you are warned that enforcement detection devices will do the job for the most part, but are no guarantee that they will always be 100% effective. These devices should be used to gauge your speed and keep your traffic safety issues in check, never to be used as a tool to flagrantly violate the law. Regardless, if you decide to buy another or use what you already have, be prepared for that day when the device just simply doesn’t do what it supposed to, and you have lights and sirens behind you! Thanks for the question, good luck and be safe! See ya!

Suggested Reading:

What is a CARMAGEDDON and when will it happen? 
Am I allowed to walk on a highway?
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The definition of a “Concours” car and event
Suggested Reading:
Suggested Reading:
What is the new national terror alert warning?
Taking photographs at off-limits tourist landmarks .


  1. Cops can be really smart sometimes so I don't think a radar detector will make you feel 100% safe.
    The best thing to do if you don't want to receive speeding tickets is....not to speed off course:))
    But we all know all drivers speed once in a while so what we need to learn is how to beat our tickets:)
    Hiring a lawyer id the best practices....I hired a lawyer from to deal with all my Toronto speeding tickets and until now he was able to beat most of them:D

  2. Agreed. Read my post about hiring a good lawyers:

    also there's my post about slowing down:

    Thanks for the comment and safe driving! Sgt. A


Sgt. Al here. I welcome your comments, ideas, and suggestions. You have questions about the police, and I'm interested in hearing what you have to say as a citizen. Thanks!