Before tinting your car or truck windows, you should familiarize yourself with laws regulating vehicle window tinting. Some dark tints are illegal.
When the police spot unusually dark windows, they may pull you over and say the vehicle does not comply with the state's vehicle code. You might get a ticket, and the state may require you to remove the tint.
Window tint laws set penalties for breaking the regulations. They also list exemptions. Read this article to learn about window tinting laws, tint tickets, medical necessity tints, and more.
What Is Window Tinting?
Window tinting refers to methods that prevent certain light levels from passing through the safety glass. Usually, a colored film covers a vehicle's windshield, side windows, and rear window.
Most newer cars and passenger vehicles already have coated or treated windows from the manufacturing process. This degree of window tinting keeps out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. A manufacturer's tint almost always complies with federal regulations and state window tinting laws.
Window tinting can also occur after a vehicle has been manufactured and sold. A private customization company or the vehicle's owner may apply the tint after-market. After-market modifications commonly risk violating window tint laws.
Different Types of Window Tinting
Your state's vehicle code may consider window tinting to include the following options:
- Heat-shrinking a tinted sheet of window film to the glass, usually on the inside surface of the vehicle. This option generally happens after-market.
- Shade bands are usually a thin, horizontal strip of tint at the top of the windshield where it meets the vehicle roof.
- Sunscreen devices temporarily attach to the inside surface of a vehicle's windshield, side windows, or rear window. They are often a plastic shade device on a passenger-side window, staying in place with suction cups.
The law could apply to any of these window tint options.
How Dark Can I Legally Tint My Windows?
Your state law sets a specific legal tint level. Most vehicle window tinting laws concern the visible light transmission (VLT) or luminous reflectance of the glass. These terms refer to how much light can get through and how easily you can see through it.
Illegally tinted windows allow a lower amount of light to come through than the amount under state law. For example, a 75% VLT tint might be too dark in your state. Most states specify that no windshield or window may have opaque, mirrored material, or one-way glass.
Many state vehicle codes contain different light transmittance requirements for the vehicle's front windshield compared to standards for the vehicle's side and rear windows. The vehicle type can also change the limit in some states.
How Vehicle Inspections Measure a Window Tint
Without professional knowledge, measurements like light transmittance can be challenging to calculate. You can get a vehicle inspection to determine whether it follows your state's window tint laws.
A government inspector or a private licensed professional can inspect your vehicle. They will most likely use a light transmission-measuring device called a photometer. This device determines if your vehicle's safety glass meets the light transmittance or luminous reflectance standards of your state's window tint laws.
To learn where you can have your vehicle's window tinting inspected, start by contacting your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. And remember, even if your vehicle's safety glass is currently in compliance with your state's window tint laws, that could change if you move to another state.
How Much Is a Window Tint Ticket?
The cost depends on where you live. Each state sets a specific fine for window tint tickets. Local laws can also apply.
Factors that affect your tint ticket fine can include:
- How much darker your tint is than legal tint levels, such as 50% darker than the limit
- Whether you have past fix-it tickets or warnings telling you to take off the window tint
Window tint tickets fall under minor traffic violations in most states. Reducing the ticket amount may be possible if you remove the tint immediately after getting pulled over.
If you don't remove the tint, you might face costs like:
- Around $25 for a fix-it ticket as your first warning
- About $100 for the first illegal window tint ticket
- Over $200 for a second tint ticket
The ticket cost will likely increase each time police pull you over. You may also face additional court processing fees, tint removal verification fees, and late fees that add up quickly.
Reasons to Tint Car Windows
Some people believe that vehicle window tinting keeps the temperature inside a car cooler. Others like the overall aesthetic of window tints.
Sometimes, drivers or passengers may have a legal medical need to have tinted vehicle windows. Even when the tint level would otherwise violate their state's vehicle code, it can be allowed for medical reasons.
Medical Necessity Exemptions to Window Tint Laws
Many state vehicle window tinting laws contain exemptions. Exemptions may apply to a vehicle if a frequent driver or passenger has a valid medical or vision-related condition. These conditions require limiting exposure to sunlight.
Examples of medical conditions that may qualify under these exemptions are:
- Sunlight allergy
Darker tinting can help filter sunlight that worsens these conditions. You must apply for a medical exemption before driving a car with a dark tint.
What To Expect in a Window Tint Application Process
State applications for medical window tint exemptions vary. To check whether such an exemption is available, contact your state's DMV office.
For example, Georgia offers an exemption to the window tint law. The Georgia Department of Public Safety has an exemption application form that residents can fill out. The applicant must pay a small fee and attach a doctor's note to prove their condition.
How To Beat a Window Tint Ticket for Medical Reasons
To avoid a citation, you must follow a few steps at a window tint-related traffic stop. The police officer needs to know you qualify for a medical exemption.
The driver or passenger with the condition must present the law enforcement officer with documentation that:
- Identifies the medical necessity
- States the specific amount of sunlight exposure (i.e., the minimum percentage of light transmittance reduction) for the condition
- Shows a prescription expiration date or permit duration
- Identifies the specific vehicle(s) to which the medical necessity window tint exemption applies
A prescription or letter from a medical professional may have some of these details. A copy of your state's approval may list the rest or all of the information.
Reasons To Remove Window Tints
Removing an illegal tint will stop police from pulling you over again and again. A traffic stop might seem like a minor inconvenience, but the ticket cost rises each time you are pulled over. In some cases, the police may find other things wrong with your car or driving, leading to additional charges or fines.
This problem is frustrating when you have already paid money for a special tint. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of leaving a dark window tint on your car.
Window Tint State Laws
Vehicle window tinting is almost always regulated under state law, and you can usually find the statutes in a state's vehicle or traffic code.
Find the window tint law section for your state in the chart below.
|Alabama Code Title 32, Chapter 5C: Window tinting and medical exceptions
|Alaska Statutes §28.05.081: Vehicle equipment standards
|Arizona Revised Statutes §28-959.01: Materials on windows or windshield
Arkansas Code §27-37-306: Light transmission levels for the tinting of motor vehicle windows
California Vehicle Code §26708: Material obstructing or reducing driver's view
California Vehicle Code §26708.5: Transparent materials
Colorado Revised Statutes §42-4-227: Windows unobstructed; certain materials prohibited
Gen. Statutes of Connecticut Title 13b, Ch. 246, §14-99g: Tinted or reflectorized windows; obstruction of view prohibited
|Delaware Code Title 21, §4313: Safety glass; window tinting; commercial window tinting
District of Columbia
|Code of the District of Columbia §50–2207.02: Tinted windows prohibited
|Florida Statutes §316.2951 through §316.2956: Windshields and windows
Georgia Code §40-8-73.1: Affixing of materials that reduce light transmission or increase light reflectance through windows
|Hawaii Revised Statutes §291-21.5: Regulation of motor vehicle sun-screening devices; penalty
|Idaho Statutes §49-944: Standards for windshields and windows of motor vehicles; prohibited acts; penalty
|Illinois Vehicle Code §5/12-501: Windshields and safety glazing materials
|Indiana Code §9-19-19-4: Windows and windshield wipers
|Iowa Code Title VIII, Subtitle II, §321.438: Windshields and windows
|Kansas Statutes §8-1749a through 8-1749c: One-way glass and sun-screening devices
|Kentucky Revised Statutes §189.110: Unobstructed windshields
|Louisiana Revised Statutes §32:361.1: View outward or inward through windshield or windows; obscuring prohibited
|Maine Statutes Title 29A, §1916: Reflective and tinted glass
|Maryland Code §22-406: Safety glazing material in motor vehicles
|Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, §9D: Windshields and windows obscured by non-transparent materials
Michigan Vehicle Code §257.709: Windshields and windows; prohibitions
|Minnesota Statutes §169.71: Windshield
|Mississippi Code §63-7-59: Windows and window glass generally
|Missouri Window Tinting Law and How to Apply for a Permit (Missouri Highway Patrol)
|Montana Code §61-9-429: Window tinting and sun screening
|Nebraska Revised Statutes §60-6, 257: Windshields and windows; tinting; sun-screening
|Nevada Revised Statutes §484D.440: Restrictions on tinting of windshield or side or rear window
|New Hampshire Statutes §266:58-a: Tinted glass
|New Jersey Statutes Title 39 §3-75: Safety glazing material New Jersey Statutes Title 39 §3-75.1: Medical exceptions
|New Mexico Statutes §66-3-846.1 : Sun screening material on windshields and windows
|New York Vehicle and Traffic Code, Article 9, §375.12-a: Safety glass and light transmittance; medical exemptions
|Window Tinting (North Carolina DMV)
|What tint is allowed on my windows? (North Dakota DMV, FAQs)
|Ohio Revised Code §4513.241: Using tinted glass and other vision-obscuring materials
|Oklahoma Statutes §47-12-422: Restrictions on use of glass coating materials or sun screening devices on windshields and windows (look under Title 47)
|Oregon Vehicle Code §815.221: Tinting; authorized and prohibited materials; certificate
|Pennsylvania Code, Title §75 4524: Windshield obstructions and wipers
|Rhode Island General Laws §31-23.3-1 to §31-23.3-6: Non-transparent windshields and windows
|South Carolina Code §56-5-5015: Sunscreen devices
|South Dakota Codified Laws §32-15-1 through §32-15-15: Safety glass, non-transparent material on window prohibited
|Tennessee Code §55-9-107: Motor vehicle windows with tinting, reflecting, or sunscreen material
Window Tinting Standards (Texas Dept. of Public Safety)
|Utah Code §41-6a-1635: Windshields and windows
|Vermont Statutes Title 23, §1125: Obstructing windshields
Code of Virginia §46.2-1053: Equipping certain motor vehicles
|Revised Code of Washington §46.37.430: Safety glazing
|West Virginia Code Article 17C, Ch. 15, §17C-15-36a: Sunscreening devices; penalty
|Wisconsin Statutes §347.43: Safety glass
|Wyoming Statutes §31-5-962: Sunscreening devices
Get Legal Guidance for Window Tinting Laws
Whether you want window tinting for health reasons or cosmetic appeal, understand the laws in your state first. If your situation is complex, you may want to speak with a local traffic attorney who can help you with vehicle modification tickets. They can provide legal advice about car window tinting laws and help you achieve the best outcome possible.