Suction cups on windshields are technically illegal

The in basket: Flip Johnson of Bremerton asks, “Does Washington allow windshield suction mounts for GPS units, cell phones, and dash cameras?

RCW 46.37.410 says, ‘No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, side wings, or side or rear windows of such vehicle which obstructs the driver’s clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway.’

“My GPS unit is nontransparent,”Flip said, “but I don’t think it obstructs my view of the highway. Do our local police and highway patrol officers issue citations for these devices?”

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office says, ” (Mr.) Johnson is correct with his assessment of RCW 46.37.410 and according to the statute he could be issued a notice of infraction.

“Now, as with many statutes contained within RCW Title 46 there is what’s written in print and what’s actually enforced out on the roads and highways by law enforcement officers.

“All of us who have ‘worked the road’ have seen a variety of devices that drivers have affixed to their windshields and dashboards… GPS devices and cell phone holders being those most prominent.

“It’s a judgment call by the individual officer / deputy / trooper.

“To be clear, though,” Scott concluded, “if it’s determined that the affixed device was the cause of a motor vehicle collision due to its obstruction of a driver’s vision, even slightly, then I believe that you know what the outcome of the collision investigation will entail.”

State Trooper Russ Winger provided the state patrol’s viewpoint.

“These type of mounts and devices are not a problem unless they substantially interfere with driver visibility. Use common sense where you mount them and there should be no problem. They are a distraction so drivers should not program them when driving. Pull over and do that. Most modern units provide navigation and are not that difficult to use safely.”

6 thoughts on “Suction cups on windshields are technically illegal

  1. You know as I drive around this whole area doing this and doing that I always seem notice the things in someones view out their front windshield. And the only reason I see this stuff is because I am looking for those drivers who either cant see out their window or are so distracted that they just miss everything around them. And I dont want to be in the path of them if at all possible. It varies from the GPS units that are either stuck on the front windshield which is like all the time or their radar detectors that are almost stuck right in their face. But also what about all the stuff that is hanging from the rear view mirror. I see handicap placards and the fish and game placards hanging from the mirrors and I know those block ones view. Or a vehicle will have a bunch of air fresheners hanging. And then there is those vehicles that have so much crap on their dash board its a wonder they can see at all. And then while most of the world cant get off their phones while driving, their is always those folks who drive with a dog in their lap and on occasion I have seen small dogs sitting on the dash board right in front of the steering wheel. (I often wonder when the dog became an everyday accessory to take everywhere like the grocery store or even to Walmart and Target or even to places where one eats and I have seen dogs in restaurants). But you know my GPS is never on top of the dash, it is stuck on the front of the dash above the radio or maybe just in the cup holder with the volume turned up so I can hear the directions not necessarily see the directions. Nothing hangs from my mirror because it only takes about 3 seconds to put up my placard(s) and about 4 seconds to take them down. Air fresheners are usually hanging in front of a vent to circulate the smell and I never in my life ever let my dog (when she actually rides with me) anywhere near where I am driving. She is either in the backseat or the back of the truck or in the floor board. She aint driving so she dont need to see where we are going til we get there. You know I often wonder if there is a law concerning dogs and yes cats riding in the vehicle. Why I never see cops pull over a vehicle that has the driver with multiple animals riding on their lap. I have seen drivers with 2-3 dogs on their lap and once saw a lady with a german shepard sitting on her lap while she sat at a light next to a state trooper. And then I often wonder why drivers use their dash as a storage space for paperwork and trash. When I have something on my dash it puts up a reflection on my windshield and I have a harder time seeing. Which is why I dont put nothing up there. How those with an abundance of stuff up there can see out when the sun is shining right through is beyond me.

    My truck wieghs just under 10k pounds and I dont need or want any distractions at all when I am driving. I want to be able to see out my window at all costs cause I dont want my vision obstructed at all when I drive, especially when the wife and kids are in the truck with me. I want to be able to see that other driver who cant see over the dog or cant see me through their placard hanging or that one driver who forgot to set up their GPS and is programming it while it is stuck to their window. Drive Safe

  2. Good point about things hanging from the rearview mirror – they block the view much more than a GPS/phone mounted at dash level.

  3. Good points. Service dogs should only be allowed into stores ONLY if they have a license stating they are service dogs.

  4. Do take a moment and check out that which I found googling in about ten seconds:

    and notice in the comparison photographs of the dashboards of the official Washington State Patrol cars there is a GPS affixed to the windshield by a suction cup.


    I have a GPS affixed to my windshield with a suction cup. And I have no problem with anyone else having one. Least of all Law Enforcement.

    In the old days, if you were trying to find an address, you consulted a map on your lap, which is FAR more distracting than a GPS. Newer cars with a screen in the center of the dashboard are only slightly better than a map on a lap.

    IMHO a windshield-mounted GPS, which requires you to only move your eyes slightly to the right are far safer than any other device that requires you to move your head.

    No one hopes for a ticket, but were I ticketed for this infraction I would print out the above link from the Columbian and go to court.

    BTW, in Washington State there is a law to reduce crime that states: “It is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town”.

    “That’s some good legislatin’ there, Lou.”

  5. And then there are those transponder stickers that the State issues to bill motorist for your windshield to go over the bridge.

    1. I know that the old ones were about 3″X 3″ and if they was put in the wrong spot, they could block ones view. But if they got put in the spot behind the rear view mirror, they were invisible. You might see the very bottom of one if placed to low. Now the ones they have now are about 1″X 2″ and are invisible unless one purposely sticks them in their view.

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