An online motor accessories retailer is offering to refund customers who bought its newly-illegal radar detectors. The detectors, which warn drivers when there is a police radar speed trap nearby, were outlawed by the government in November last year.

Car Parts Direct , which had been selling radar detectors since the technology became legal in 1998, is offering to refund customers who bought radar detectors without realising they would soon become illegal again.

Motorists caught using an illegal speed camera detection device will now face a fine and penalty points on their licence. But Car Parts Direct says it is offering to take back all illegal devices from their customers, "rather than see them break the law".

Mark Cornwall of Car Parts Direct said, "Customers bought radar detectors in good faith, when they were legal to use. Now the government have banned them, thousands of motorists are out of pocket and with no protection against cameras. Whilst we did warn that radar detectors could be banned, we feel obliged to offer our customers support ."

Legal to sell, illegal to use

The company is offering a full refund to customers wanting to return banned devices and will upgrade them to a new legal Satellite Navigator and Camera spotter. Customers who bought in the last six months will get the full £199 off the purchase price. Those who bought more than six months ago get 50 per cent off the cost.

The offer is expected to run for a few weeks, with 500 Rossini Navigator units allocated for the promotion. So anyone who bought a radar detector from Car Parts Direct should act swiftly to ensure they get their upgrades.

In November 2006, the House of Lords gave the rubber stamp to a bill which declared the use of in-car radar-detecting equipment illegal. So radar detectors have been officially illegal since then; however there is no word from the Department for Transport as to when this law will start being enforced.

The matter is complicated by the fact that the bill does not forbid retailers from selling the radar devices; it only outlaws people from carrying the kit in their cars. In recent years, many UK holidaymakers have had their radar detectors conviscated and destroyed by French authorities as radar detectors are already illegal there.