The Best Smartphone Car Docks That Are Legal In Your State

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

Is your car’s phone dock legal in your state? Did you even know that’s a question you had to ask? For such a basic accessory, the law can get a little complicated.

There are almost as many types of phone mounts as there are phones. While most of them are legal in most states, there are some curious exceptions for certain types of mounts. Here, we’ll break down the kinds of mounts you can get, and how to make sure they’re legal in your state.

Windshield Suction Cup Mounts

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

One of the most common—and most legally unclear—mounts are the suction cups you can attach to your windshield. The legal language that governs suction cup mounts varies from state to state. Some like Georgia simply ban anything that “obstructs” your view, while others like California are more specific, banning signs or posters on your windows, but have specific exceptions for areas where you can place a device.

In California, for example, you can place suction cup mounts in either a 5" square in the lower corner of the driver’s side window, or a 7" square in the lower corner of the passenger’s side of the windshield. These specific variations vary by state, but the only states with no restrictions at all are Missouri and North Carolina.

The following states allow limited obstructions in specific areas of a windshield:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Vermont

If you live in one of those states (or Missouri or North Carolina) you could consider a suction cup mount like this one from Amoner that can adjust to the size of most popular phones.

Dashboard Suction Cup Mounts

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

While most states have laws governing obstructions on windows, dashboard suction cup mounts live in a more nebulous area. Technically, these don’t mount to your windshield, but they can still obstruct your view, depending on placement.

The following states have broad language banning windshield obstructions and, while it may be possible to get away with some windshield-mounted suction cup docks, a dashboard dock that stays out of your eyeline may be more workable:

  • Alabama 
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Maine
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If you live in one of these states, a dashboard mount might be more fitting. This iOttie dock can hold most sized phones and can be mounted to either a windshield or a dashboard, and it comes with an extendable arm that can be moved so your phone isn’t blocking your view.

Air Vent Docks

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

If you want to be absolutely sure you’re not blocking your view, attaching your phone to an air vent is a pretty safe bet. This model from Macully grips your phone in a cradle you can attach to the slats of an air vent. If you prefer magnets, Aukey’s magnetic air vent dock is one of our most popular sellers ever. This model uses a magnet inside your case. Neither will obstruct your windshield, though the obvious downside is they may redirect or block airflow.

CD Tray Docks

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

If you still have a CD tray, you’re probably not using it much. With the iOttie CD dock, you can mount your phone in that place instead. This gives you a cradle right in front of the CD tray opening so, as long it’s not blocking your view (unlikely) or your stereo buttons (slightly more likely), you should be good and legal.

Cup Holder Docks

Graphic: Eric Ravnescraft

If neither of the above options work, Macully also makes a cup holder dock with an extendable arm to place your phone at a somewhat higher level. It’s pretty silly and it leaves your phone hanging out in space, but it does give you more flexibility (literally) to position your phone outside of your sight lines.

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