car window tinting laws
Photographer: Charlie Larkman | Source: Unsplash

Summer is here, and the sun is shining. To avoid the glare of the hot sun while driving, many drivers will tint their car windows. Unfortunately, most are unaware of car window tinting laws that govern car window tinting and therefore they may break the law unknowingly. If you are one of them, here is some important information on car tinting that you should know to avoid trouble with the law.

What is a car window tint?

Window tinting is when you apply a laminate film on your vehicle windows to darken them. Some people like to darken their car window for privacy. Others do it for security purposes because it makes it difficult to see the things you have in a car through a tinted window.

Most drivers in hot areas tint their vehicles to protect the interior from sun damage. Many also want to protect their skin against the harmful UV rays to avoid skin damage. Window tinting can also make your windows shatter-proof so that in case of an accident, you don't have glass flying everywhere.

There is also a percentage of drivers that feel tinted windows are stylish and cool and hence do it only for the aesthetics. The point is, there are many reasons that prompt people to put window tint on their vehicles.

If you are thinking of getting your car tinted, it is advisable that you get acquainted with the laws governing tinting in your state. It will keep you from getting in trouble with the law and allow you to drive in peace.

Car Window Tinting Laws – The laws on car window tinting

White police car patrolling
Photographer: Matt Popovich | Source: Unsplash

Loosely defined, a tint is anything that covers your window and prevents specific amounts of light from shining in. It could be on your windscreen, side, or rear windows. Some laws describe it as material obstructing a driver's visibility, others as transparent material obscuring windows and windscreens, while others call it sun shading.

Some cars already have a small tint when you buy them. Most car manufacturers usually comply with the regulations on tinting when they do this. The amount of mild tinting they do is to keep off harmful UV rays from the interior and give drivers a pleasant driving experience.

However, the tinting that people add on their own volition by customizing their vehicles is another matter. It is governed by state rules and regulations that all drivers should adhere to at all times to avoid prosecution.

People think a tint is a tint, but don't realize there is a percentage of tinting they are allowed to put on their cars. It refers to how dark your tint is and the amount of light it allows into your vehicle referred to in law as variable light transmission(VLT).

VLT is measured in percentages. If your car windows are clear, letting in full light, your VLT is 100%. If your car windows allow no light through, then your VLT is 0%.

What are the laws on car tinting in your state?

The laws that govern window tinting through customization differ from state to state. It is up to you to find out the VLT percentage allowed in your state for car window tinting and adhere to it. Tinting regulations may also affect the color of the tint and location.

When you are a visitor in any state, you are only expected to comply with regulations on tinting that govern the state where your vehicle is registered. The laws in most states allow a police officer to stop a car if he/she feels the window tint does not comply with state laws.

If you get a citation, appear in court, and are found guilty of violating tint regulations you may be asked to pay the penalty. Unfortunately, in some states, they can jail you for violating tint laws. In any case of conviction on tinting, you will have to get the tint removed from your windows. You can find information on window tinting regulations in each state on the traffic code.

How do I measure the amount of tint on my car windows?

car window tinting laws
r windPhotographer: Austin Neill | Source: Unsplash

It's difficult for most people to know how much light is coming in through their tinted windows. However, that is not an excuse to go over the limit. The best thing you can do to stay on the right side of the law is to get your car tint inspected by a professional using a photometer.

However, you don't just use any person to inspect your car tint. You should use experts certified by the state Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV). If you make a call to the DMV offices in your state, they will advise you on the right place to take your car for a window tint test. Once you do it, you will get a document that you can show any traffic officer indicating the amount of tint on your car windows is in alignment with state requirements.

Exemptions to window tint regulations

There are exemptions to state rules on car window tinting, and they mainly concern health problems. Some people suffer from skin conditions that require them to stay away from too much sunlight. Good examples are people suffering from Melanoma, Psoriasis, Lupus and Pellagra, among other forms of sensitivity to light.

In the cases of people suffering from light sensitivity, the state may exempt them from regulations allowing them to darken their tints beyond the limit set by law. If you want to get a permit to darken your tint for medical reasons, you need to contact your DMV to find out if you can get an exemption.

To get permission to darken your car windows over the set limit due to health reasons, you need documentation from a certified medical professional. The documents should indicate you are diagnosed with a skin disease that is exacerbated by exposure to sun rays. You also need to attach your prescription for the treatment of your condition, and it's expiration date where necessary.

Also, make sure the documents include the amount of UV rays that your skin is sensitive to which will explain the amount of tint on your car windows. There should also be the length of time you need the exemption and the vehicles that cover the exemption. Keep in mind that any, documentation to allow extra tinting must be with you at all times.

Bottom line

In conclusion, a window tint can only get you arrested if you are breaking the regulations of the state you are found driving in. To be on the safe side, contact your state DMV, and get their opinion. If your DMV requires you to have a permit, get it and carry it around with all supporting documents and you will not get arrested.

It's also always a good idea to get acquainted with an attorney specializing in traffic law matters so that he/she can guide you on the right way to deal with any incidents with traffic police. They will also come in handy in the occurrence that you get pulled over for window tinting or any other offense by a traffic officer. Call a traffic law expert today!

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