Is It Illegal to Use a Hanging Car Air Freshener?

Hanging car air fresheners are a classic that we might all be able to remember swinging on the rear-view mirror during childhood, but that nostalgia is deceiving.

It seems silly; many people have things hanging from their rear-view mirror, decorating the inside of their car. However, if you're pulled over, whether for a road violation or at a check stop, and an officer notices decorations hanging from your rear-view mirror that they feel can impede your view of the road, they can fine you. Car air fresheners are technically illegal to have hanging from your rear-view mirror. Having one could cost drivers in the UK £1,000 or 3 points on their license.

Whether this is something that’s likely to happen is another story, but it is an infraction for which you can receive points on your license or a fine.

Why Are Hanging Car Air Fresheners Illegal?

The issue is that you aren’t supposed to drive with an impeded view. This law means not only hanging car air fresheners possibly costing you £1,000 or 3 points on your license, but anything bulky or unwieldy could give officers enough reason to fine you. It’s the same principle for which a policeman might stop you if you’re driving with sunglasses at night, or if you’re holding a map up in front of you as you drive—you’re supposed to have your full concentration on the road.

People often leave parking placards, jewellery, graduation tassels, and even pictures hanging from the rear-view mirror that can get them in hot water. Taking the time to ensure these hanging things don't impede your vision can ensure you don't get slapped with a huge fine.

Where Are Hanging Car Fresheners Illegal?

The UK isn’t the only place having a hanging car air freshener can cause problems. In Canada, for example, having things hanging in your windshield that obstruct your view can get you a fine ranging from $80 to $110.

Laws in the United States vary depending on what state you're in, but in states like Minnesota, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Texas, you can be pulled over and fined for having something hanging from your rear-view mirror. Other states have laws that specify that a fine can be issued if the object obstructs the driver's view.

So, this isn’t just a UK thing—it’s a worldwide issue!

Air Fresheners That Don’t Hang

A great way to be sure that you're not going to get in trouble for your air freshener is by not having one that hangs. Electronic car mist diffusers are a simple option that packs a lot of punch. These electronic scent dispensers sit in your cupholder and plug into the charging port in your car, meaning they don't impede your vision or get in the way at all.

At the same time, these diffusers come in a much wider range of scents than the traditional hanging car air fresheners. They are much more powerful and don't require heat or water, making them low-to-no-maintenance. With several modes and intensities, you can choose exactly what scent and how much you have in your car, giving you complete control over your experience. What's more, they have a sleek and attractive appearance, adding to the inside of your car rather than being an eyesore.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you polled 50 people about this question, you would probably get a lot of different answers. For many, the frequency with which we see hanging car air fresheners swinging from a rear-view mirror makes it feel impossible that they could be illegal. However, a law surrounding the safety of all drivers and how well you can see the road allows officers to ticket you if they feel as though your hanging car air freshener is obstructing your view of the road.

If you want to avoid a £1,000 fine or 3 points off your license, a great alternative is a car diffuser that will freshen the inside of your car without hanging in the windshield. These diffusers plug in discretely down below your field of vision but offer a big punch in scent. Visit our catalogue for a full view of the scents you can legally fill your car with.

Related FAQs

What type of items are not allowed to hang from the rear-view mirror?

Anything bulky or unwieldy could give officers enough reason to fine you. This includes parking placards, jewellery, graduation tassels, and even pictures. While in reality these laws are rarely enforced, they apply whether the issue is your car air freshener or something else.

Are there alternatives for people who want to make their car smell nice?

Yes! Electronic car mist diffusers are becoming popular as they don’t hang from the rear-view mirror and come with a variety of scent options. They plug into your vehicle’s charging port and can be placed discreetly in your cupholder.

Is it illegal to have an air freshener attached to the dashboard?

No - as long as the air freshener does not block your view of the road, then you are in the clear. Additionally, make sure it is securely attached to the dashboard so that it does not become a distraction while you are driving.

Can I use a scented candle instead of car air fresheners?

No - candles are not safe for use in cars as they may cause fires when left unattended. Also, burning candles produce fumes that can be toxic when inhaled for long periods of time. Stick with non-flammable options such as electronic diffusers or sprays for better results and safety.

Do I have to remove my air freshener before taking an MOT test?

Official Gov.UK guidance does, in fact, tell mechanics: "You can remove items such as a sat nav or air fresheners that obstruct the driver’s view of the road. However, make sure you tell the driver." Again though, in practise, it is highly unlikely for them to do this, they would tell you if they did, and you don't have to do it for them.

Ex financial contractor turned E-Commerce brand owner. with a strong passion for both the automotive and fragrance industries. This passion led me to starting Car Cologne in 2018, indirectly creating a new niche in the process, providing long-lasting, luxury car freshening products on a global scale.

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