Sunday, March 18, 2012

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

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 clarified the law, and smartphones used for GPS must be mounted in a legal area, and you can only use one finger to swipe.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  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.

      • Composed says:

        Please remember that claiming that you phone is not being used for GPS will be considered “lying to an officer” if you are caught. The officer does have the right to have your data pulled up and can tell if you are using GPS, the phone and yes, even watching Netflix, and especially in the case of an accident they will access your data. Better safe instead of sorry. I believe it is better to change the location to a legal location instead of hoping that the officer will accept your word over his suspicions.

        • Big Willey says:

          Just because someone on the internet gives you legal advice doesn’t mean it’s accurate. “Lying to an officer.” “Right to have your data pulled up.” Something about all that doesn’t smell right!

        • Kevin Criswell says:

          no they can’t. You always have the fifth amendment right and pulling your “data” won’t tell an officer what app you were just using or not. I was a road officer not once were we allowed to start rummaging through someone’s phone for a traffic stop.

  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?

  4. this is so dumb! Deaf people need gps on the windshield or dashboard to get the direction. Deaf people do have good eyes than hearing people. Hearing people can hear the gps or whatever it is.

  5. Be careful of dash mounts too, you point out the pertinent part of law above (July 14 response) regarding anything that obstructs the view out the windshield. In many states, any device that sticks up enough to block part of the view through the windshield may be illegally mounted. I wonder if it’s OK for the places where the only thing visible is your hood.

    Be careful out there, and thanks for the article!

  6. The color coding says it is okay to use a gps window mount in NY but your article says different. Sorry but you should check your resource material first.

    • That must be an older image…I didn’t notice that! Looking it up, it looks like NY law doesn’t have anything specific about GPS that I can find. It states: “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign or other nontransparent material other than a certificate or paper required to be displayed by law upon the front windshield or the sidewings or side windows on either side forward of or adjacent to the operator’s seat.” I presume that would include GPS, but I would guess it’s open to interpretation.

      Thanks for pointing that out, and I hope that clears it up!

  7. 2014 Minnesota Statutes 169.71 WINDSHIELD: In the exceptions section (iv), it says global positioning systems or navigation systems when mounted or located near the bottommost portion of the windshield are allowed. This exception was, I believe, added in the year 2009.

  8. Sorry about my prior post without a web page to show proof. Here is the link.

  9. I live in NY state…

    What if you have said GPS (or radar detector) mounted to the Mirror, and technically not the windshield ala the link below?

  10. Bob Hill says:

    Is there State reciprocity for these ridiculous laws, in other words, if it’s legal in my state, I can do it in any other state that has reciprocity.

  11. I have had my GPS now for 4 years… I have always had it on my windshield never a problem till today…. My husband was driving my son to the train in Philly from NJ and was stopped by a NJ State trooper and given a warning about my GPS…. I have driven to Florida and back for 4 years with the GPS on windshield and never had a problem…. why today??? I will now mount it on dashboard…

  12. I believe the reference of Alabama on the list is inaccurate and is victim of partial interpretation of the published code. While I understand the interpretation of a piece of equipment mounted via suction cup could fall under the reference of “non-transparent material” what is missing is the complete statement in the Alabama Code. According to Alabama Code – Section 32-5-215, the way it is written is it must also satisfy, “which obstructs the driver’s clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway.” Refr: If this reference is complied with, then a w/s mounted GPS is allowed.

    • It’s possible. It seems to me that the wording implies that it wouldn’t be allowed but I see how it could be interpreted either way. I might suggest calling the state patrol or legislature and double checking. Thanks for linking the code and commenting!

  13. Rojah Huffmanuffman says:

    That’s odd. I never knew these laws existed. In Illinois we mount them anywhere we want. It’s common to have them in the top-center of the windshield.

    • Dave Becker says:

      My prepass/ electronic toll doohickey is supposed to go at the top of the windshield but the cab visor obstructs it so I have it on the glass several inches above the dash height… the only spot it works. If it was required to NOT be on the glass, just on the dash somewhere, it wouldn’t work at all.

  14. When I mount my 6″ Garmin in the lower part of my windshield right in from of me in my pickup truck, the only thing obstructed is a view of my hood. You would think legislators would have more creativity than to write a “shotgun” law like they have in many states. Would they rather me have my attention focused back and forth on a map laying on the passenger seat?

  15. Dave Becker says:

    Using the “logic” of these states, it seems that a Prepass unit and/or a toll unit would be illegal too then on the windshield (the only place they work in a truck)?

  16. Good to know i was sure Nevada has no restriction and mostly i was interested in dashcameras.
    However i think mirror mount will be legal , or at least dual dashcam

  17. Interesting post. The law here in the uk is so unclear on the legality of car dash cams being mounted on the windscreen as well. I think the general consensus here is that as long as they do not present a visible distraction when driving it’s fine, this means making sure your device’s screen is turned off while driving.

    However, all in all a very grey area when it comes down to the legality of it all, in both the uk and the us. To be in the safe your better checking your local laws and regulations first, better being safe than sorry!

  18. never had a problem in New York, New Jersey, or Pa. I’ve gotten pulled over before and not once were the windshield mounted items mentioned. And I have my smart phone and a dashcam in the middle.

  19. I’m 200% agree with EVA (commentor)

  20. I was stopped on the Interstate traveling through Arizona by the AHP for what I surmise they thought was a radar detector mounted on my windshield. When the trooper noticed it was JUST a compass, I could see the dejection in his face. He then told me nothing was allowed to be mounted on the windshield (not correct). He gave me a WRITTEN warning ticket. WTH? Way to encourage visitors to the state.

  21. What is next, dash cams that are mounted on the rear-view mirror? I agree that dash cams should not be bulky and not obstructive but outlawing something that is supposed to protect isn’t right. After a while people forget it is even there. It’s only in the beginning that they might find it a distraction. Get one that mounts on your rear view mirror that also acts as a mirror. I am having one sent to me so please do wait for my review on it.

  22. It’s only in the beginning that they might find it a distraction. Get one that mounts on your rear view mirror that also acts as a mirror. I am having one sent to me so please do wait for my review on it.

  23. I trust that a GPS would fall under the tenets recorded in No. 5 in the Arizona law, as it would be viewed as a nontransparent material attached to the windshield (which isn’t permitted unless it takes after the principles recorded). They don’t have anything particular recorded for GPS that I could discover so I trust that is the place it would qualify.

    In any case, I may misread it, and in the event that it is wrong, I will refresh the article. For what reason do you say it’s off-base?

  24. I was halted on the Interstate going through Arizona by the AHP for what I construe they thought was a radar indicator mounted on my windshield. At the point when the trooper saw it was Only a compass, I could see the disheartening in his face. He at that point disclosed to me nothing was permitted to be mounted on the windshield not right. He gave me a Composed cautioning ticket. WTH? Approach to urge guests to the state.

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  29. Jody Kraus says:

    Can you mount your GPS mount on your drive side window, in states that prohibit windshield mounts?

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  33. California link broken

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