Are Police Scanners Legal?

Yes, Police Scanners are legal to own and operate within the U.S.

Airwaves in the U.S. are public property and information sent over them does not presume privacy, which was established in the 1934 Communications Act.

Some radio bands are blocked on scanners; such as cell phones, military and government bands, and all other private agencies (where privacy is presumed), but all other frequencies are public until considered otherwise.

For a better understanding of radio bands in the U.S. and how they function and behave, please read Key Police Scanner Concepts & Overview.

While listening to radio bands on police scanners is legal in the U.S., there are 2 types of restrictions. These are not federal laws, but restrictions differ from state to state. These restrictions key in on:

  1. Use of a police scanner while driving*
  2. Use of a police scanner in the furtherance of a crime*