Are Radar Detectors Legal in Canada? What You Need to Know
Radar detectors have been around for decades, with the main goal of helping drivers improve their awareness on the road. Yes, there are drivers with a lead foot, but the vast majority of people “go with the flow” or consciously drive at or under the speed limit. But who hasn’t been in a situation while driving where they’ve looked down at the speedometer and were surprised to see that they were driving over the speed limit? Honestly, it happens to all of us, no matter how cautiously we drive. The truth is, it’s difficult to always know what the speed limit is at all times.
First, it's important to understand what a radar detector is and how it works. Essentially, a radar (or laser) detector is a device that can detect the radar signals emitted by police radar or laser guns used to determine the speed of a vehicle. When a radar detector picks up these signals, it alerts the driver so that they can slow down and avoid getting a speeding ticket. Some radar detectors also come with additional features like built-in GPS technology to alert drivers of speed cameras and red light cameras or can connect to a network of other drivers and detectors to share alerts with each other, much like Waze. The more advanced features a radar detector includes, generally the more expensive it is.
Radar detectors help make sure drivers know what’s going on around them and can help avoid going over the speed limit and getting ticketed by police radar or laser guns. However, are they legal in Canada? In this blog post, we’ll discuss the legality of radar detectors in different Canadian provinces and what happens if you’re caught with one in a province where they’re not permitted.
Where are Radar Detectors Legal in Canada?
Radar detectors are legal for passenger vehicles in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan (they are not allowed in any commercial vehicle in any province). In all other provinces and territories, including Yukon, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, they are prohibited.
It’s worth noting that police in provinces where radar detectors are illegal have onboard technology to detect them through signal leakage. Therefore, if you are traveling from a province where they’re legal to one where they’re not, you should make sure to deactivate your radar detector.
It is also important to know that just to be safe, you should avoid using dash cams with built-in detectors in provinces where radar detectors are illegal. For instance, if you live in Newfoundland and Labrador, any device that is capable of detecting radar or another electronic device used to measure speed is illegal under the Highway Traffic Act.
Note that newer radar detectors can pick up newer technology such as MRCT, Mesta Fusion, Redflex, and Gatso that are used in red light cameras. Red light cameras have multiple purposes, from red light violations to illegal left hand turns to speeding on green infractions. Every province may have different regulations, and not every province may use red light or speed cameras. Prior to buying one, we recommend checking with your local insurance provider or police detachment, as they may have more information.
Penalties for Using Radar Detectors Where They're Not Permitted
Penalties for using radar detectors where they're not permitted vary by province but typically include fines and confiscation of the device. Some provinces may also assign demerit points to your license, which can impact insurance and license renewals.
Radar detectors are a very useful tool to raise awareness while driving, whether it’s to help monitor your speed or to know ahead of time the locations of red light or speed cameras.