State legislators seek ban on 'radar jammers'
By TOM HUMPHREY, email@example.com
March 13, 2006
NASHVILLE - A radio commercial designed to promote "radar jammers" as a way to avoid speeding tickets has instead inspired an effort to outlaw the devices in Tennessee.
Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, said she heard the commercial for "Phazer II" radar jammers in her car and thought, "That's probably not a product that we need to have marketed in Tennessee."
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The commercial, which Woodson plans to play for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in seeking the panel's approval of her bill, features a couple talking. The woman urges the man to slow down and he replies that she shouldn't worry - he has installed a Phazer II.
"Our car is invisible with Phazer II," the man says. The woman replies, "Then get moving, George. Step on it! We're going to be late."
The commercial also promises that the selling company will pay the speeding ticket of anyone caught while using the device and says they are illegal in six states.
Actually, according to research by legislative staff, the devices are illegal in more states than that, as well as the District of Columbia.
"If you have a device and its sole purpose is to interfere with a law enforcement officer's ability to keep the highways and roadways safe, that seems to me irresponsible," Woodson said.
The bill would make sale or possession of a radar-jamming device a Class C misdemeanor in Tennessee, punishable by a $50 fine and court costs as well as up to 30 days in jail. Actually using the device to interfere with law enforcement radar would be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.
The Phazer II is manufactured by Rocky Mountain Radar Inc., of El Paso, Texas. Raul Elguea, identifying himself as a design engineer at the firm, said the company's product was "more of a safety device than for breaking the law" and he saw no reason they should be made illegal.
"We've got a lot more things to worry about in this country than scramblers," he said.
Elguea said "flagrant" violators of speeding laws are not really helped by the device because police officers can tell visibly that a vehicle is going too fast.
"We don't condone excessive speeding," he said. "The way our scrambler works, it just gives you enough time to get down to the speed limit if, say, you're going 60 in a 55 mph zone."
States that already ban the devices are California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia.
The jammers or scramblers work differently than older radar detectors and "confuse" newer laser speed-detection devices used by some law enforcement agencies, according to the company's Web site, rocky-mountain-radar.com.
In the House, the bill is sponsored by House Republican Leader Bill Dunn of Knoxville, who has scheduled a hearing on the measure Tuesday before a House subcommittee. Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, is a co-sponsor of the measure.
Tom Humphrey may be reached at 615-242-7782.