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Is It Legal to 'Murder Out' (aka Black-Out) Your Car?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

The murdered-out look is certainly nothing new. Car heads have been blacking out their rides for years.

And for just as long, drivers of blacked-out cars have been getting attention from law enforcement. The latest driver to draw the ire of police is "Keeping up With Kardashians" cast member and pseudo-Kardashian sister Kylie Jenner. According to TMZ, Jenner was pulled over by Los Angeles police and cited for the black covers on her murdered-out Range Rover earlier this week.

What do car owners need to know about the legality of blacking-out their cars?

Window Tints

Window tint laws vary from state to state. Generally however, most states have a minimum level of "light transmittance," "luminous reflectance," or other terminology quantifying the amount of visibility allowed by the glass in your windows and windshields.

Under federal law, automakers are generally required to make car windows that allow for at least 70 percent light transmittance. However, consumers can acquire aftermarket window tinting that is significantly darker. Although in some states these darker tints may be legal, be sure to check the law in your state for additional requirements. In California and many other states, for example, the amount of tinting allowed for driver's side windows may be less than that which is allowed for rear windows.

Sunnier states may also have less restrictive laws on window tinting. In Texas, for example, front windows and windshields can be as dark as 25 percent light transmittance, while rear windows have no restrictions for cars with side mirrors on both sides of the vehicle.

Tail Lights, Head Lights

Tail light and headlight restrictions will also vary from state to state, but in many states, modifications to tail lights and headlights may violate the vehicle code. In Washington state, for example, "the addition of an aftermarket style ornament or other feature such as tinted plastic glass covers, a grille, or allotted covers must not be placed in front of the headlamp lens, or in front of any other lighting devices installed on motor vehicles which impair the effectiveness of lighting equipment."

Many states outlaw not only darkened tail lights, but also effectively prohibit clear tail lamp lenses. The Oregon Vehicle Code, for example, requires that signal lamps, brake lamps, tail lamps, side marker lamps and side reflex reflectors all must emit red or amber light. Many clear tail lamp covers do not meet these requirements and will therefore result in a traffic citation.

For more legal tips for avoiding traffic citations check out FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Traffic Tickets.

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