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Sunday, March 18, 2012

GPS Windshield Mounts Illegal in over Half the U.S.

GPS-windshield-mount-laws

We have posted articles about this before, but with the height of vacation season upon us, I thought it might be a good time to go over where you can place GPS mounts without getting a ticket. Each state in the U.S. has different laws about where you can (or can’t) mount an external automotive GPS device in your car, and if you get pulled over in a state with a different law, ignorance isn’t going to get you out of a hefty ticket! As a general rule, you can mount the device on your dashboard and have no issues–but if you intend to use a windshield mount, be sure to check this list before you take off.  The logic is that these devices obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road and are dangerous.

Currently, windshield mounts are illegal in more than half of the US–no matter where you mount it on your windshield, you can get a ticket passing through these states. Additionally, many of these states have laws about screens being operational in the car where the driver can see them. Windshield mounts in the following states should be avoided:

 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • D.C.
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the remaining states, there are a few that allow windshield mounts, but restrict the location. They are each a little different, so a link to the statute and explanation has been provided.

  • Arizona – You can mount it in a 5 inch area in the left lower corner of the windshield on the driver side, or a 7 inch area in the right lower corner of the passenger side.
  • California – You can mount it in a 5 inch area in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver side, or a 7 inch area in the lower corner of the passenger side, provided it does not get in the way of airbags and is only used for “door-to-door navigation” meaning it’s designed for automobiles. This would probably not cover using your phone to navigate. Edit: California recently changed the law, making using your smartphone for GPS while in the car legal.
  • Hawaii – You can mount it in a 5 inch area in the left lower corner of the windshield on the driver side, or a 7 inch area in the right lower corner of the passenger side.
  • Indiana – You can mount it in a 4 inch area in the lower righthand corner of the windshield on the passenger side.
  • Maryland – Maryland law allows for nontransparent materials to be placed “within a 7 inch square area in the lower corner” as long as it doesn’t obstruct view of traffic. There are no specifications as to which side of the windshield is allowed, so presumably both sides would be acceptable.
  • Minnesota – This law is a little vague and states that you may not mount gps devices “near the bottommost portion of the windshield.” I would assume the areas allowed by other states (such as Arizona or California) would be acceptable, but it might not be a bad idea to check for yourself before driving.
  • Nevada – You can mount it in a 6 inch square in the lower corner on the passenger side windshield.
  • Ohio - You can mount a GPS device if it is not more than six inches below the upper edge of the windshield and is outside the area swept by the vehicle’s windshield wipers and does not restrict line of sight.
  • Utah – You can mount it on the lower righthand side provided it does not extend more than three inches to the right of the edge or more than four inches above the bottom edge of the windshield. I’m not sure that’s enough space for a GPS, but that is the only place it says you can have nontransparent materials mounted on the windshield without breaking the law.

For all the states not listed, there are no specific regulations for mounting your GPS to the windshield, but be sure that you still have a clear view of the road, and that the GPS device isn’t located somewhere where it is going to be a distraction as you drive. However, in all states (as far as I know) it is perfectly acceptable to mount your GPS using a dashboard mount of some type. A few choices include friction mounts, air vent mounts and adhesive discs that work with windshield mounts (many GPS devices come with these, but the discs are not easily removed from the dash once installed).

Some of the information in this article is from a report published by POI Factory, and some gleaned from governmental sites for the individual states.

This article is meant to be informational and entertaining, but we cannot be held liable for incorrect information. It is the driver’s responsibility to comply with all local, state and federal laws and be aware of any changes therein. This article is not a substitute for legal advice and GPSTracklog and its authors cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions which may occur.

Comments

  1. I am, now, curious about DashCams. Is the placement of them also regulated?

    • From what I have seen, it varies widely from state to state. Most of the states that allow windshield mounting say something to the effect of “nothing except for GPS” and such. However, some states do allow video recording devices as a separate section in the statute. I would suggest either also mounting that to the dash or double-checking before you hit the road. So yes, I believe that is also regulated.

      • RonBoyd says:

        Yikes! I have driven all over Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota without incidence. Of course, it is mounted very close to the Rear View Mirror so jus may not have been noticed… yet. These kinds of Laws are just silly.

  2. Michael moonitz says:

    What about using a windshield mount for a smart phone.? If you claim it is only used for,hands free calling and not GPS, are you ok?

    • Once again, I think that also varies from state-to-state. I have heard of people getting tickets (most notably in California) for that sort of thing, but the laws are constantly changing. I am not really sure, but when I was reading through the statutes, many of them prohibited anything ‘non-transparent’ that blocked clear view from the windshield. That would include a phone. Also keep in mind that a lot of states have very specific laws about using your cell phone in the car. It is actually illegal in several states, but I’m not sure how far the law goes. You’d have to talk to a legal professional or the highway patrol for that.

  3. Not exactly accurate. I looked at ARIZONA (link to law) and this article is incorrect.

    • Missing the Link

    • I believe that a GPS would fall under the rules listed in No. 5 in the Arizona law, as it would be considered a nontransparent material affixed to the windshield (which isn’t allowed unless it follows the rules listed). They don’t have anything specific listed for GPS that I could find so I believe that’s where it would qualify.

      But I might be misreading it, and if it is incorrect, I will update the article. Why do you say it’s wrong?

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