A simple drive across the United States exposes the average driver to a variety of natural environments, changing weather conditions, and variable laws of the road. One of the trickiest laws for people to keep tabs on involves windshield mounts for GPS devices and smartphones. In one state it may be legal to mount your device in the center of the windshield, while others tightly restrict where mounts can and cannot be situated on the windshield.
Below, you’ll find a helpful guide that clarifies the laws and regulations in each US state regarding mounting devices on the windshield of a vehicle. Generally speaking, state laws fall into three categories: Yes, Yes-Limited, and No. In the following breakdown, you’ll learn the specifics behind each designation and see a list of states that fall into each of those categories.
States that fall into the YES category are those which allow GPS receivers and smartphones to be mounted on the windshield of a vehicle. Specific laws will vary from state to state, so it is important to conduct additional research into the exact language of the law. However, in each of these states, mounts are either specifically mentioned as being exempt from regulation or are not mentioned in regulations prohibiting devices in a vehicle. The states that fall into this category include:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
States that fall into this category fall under the same guidelines as the YES category. Mounts are either listed as exempt from regulations in these states or not specifically listed in regulations regarding devices in use inside a vehicle. However, laws in these states do limit where a mount can be located. Generally speaking, mounts must be at the bottom of a windshield in a 5″ square on the driver’s side or 7″ square on the passenger’s side. Again, it is advisable to conduct further research in each specific state to ensure compliance. The following states fall into the YES-Limited group
The laws are clear in the states that fall into the NO category. GPS devices and smartphones are not allowed to be mounted on the windshield of a vehicle. In many cases, a specific mention is made about the obstruction of vision due to non-transparent materials. The states that fall into the NO category include:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Notes on Mounting Laws
There are various notes and further explanations that apply to some of the states listed in each category. Connecticut and DC, both in the NO category, have additional notes for drivers to keep in mind. In Connecticut, a litmus test is available that states there must “be a more than hypothetical possibility of the item blocking the field of vision.” In DC, all electronic devices are prohibited inside vehicles unless a hands-free accessory is equipped.
Maine is the only YES-category state with a note on the matter. The law states that “everything which is not forbidden is allowed.” There is not mention of anything being forbidden from windows other than tinting, making it legal to use windshield mounts.
Several states in the YES-Limited group have notes on their laws. Indiana restricts mounts to a 4″ (not 7″) corner on the bottom of the passenger side of the windshield. Maryland allows a 7″ square on a lower corner of the windshield, but does not specify driver or passenger side. In Minnesota, mounts must be on the lower portion of the windshield, but are not restricted to corners. Nevada allows for a 6″ square on the lower passenger side corner, not a 7″ square. Finally, Utah allows for a mount along the top edge of the windshield or lower left corner in a 3″ x 4″ rectangle.