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Jan 16, 2024

Tinted windows are more than just a popular item on cars and vans, they’re also useful to cut glare, and window tint cools interiors on hot summer days. Unfortunately, the law in approximately fifteen states take a dim view of the privacy that window tint allows in the vehicle, in particular the driver's area. On the other hand, the laws are not very uniform. The laws in different communities reflect each community’s’ sensibility to window tinting. The differences can sometimes be minimal.

The Question of Jurisdiction

One jurisdiction’s heavy tint allowance might be at variance with another. For example, the City of Chicago is at variance with the State of Illinois in the darkness of window tint with the state law allowing more tint than Chicago does.

Visible Light Transmission

With window tint, it’s a matter of percentages of visible light transmission or VLT. Some jurisdictions do not allow Any VLT tint on the windshield at all, and that can be difficult to argue with because window tint may obstruct vision while driving. After all, window tint does lend itself to arguments about obstructing driver visibility. The driver’s and passenger’s window tint is the next thing to be regulated. Many jurisdictions don’t allow more than 50-percent of VLT in window tint in the driver's window and passenger's window. They might also restrict it to the same number in the second-row seats and in the back window.


On the other hand, vans are often regulated differently. The window tint on a van might be the same on the windshield, passengers’ window and drivers’ window, but the rest of the windows can be completely blacked out. Considering that panel vans often run with only the three front windows, this doesn’t seem inconsistent.

When it comes to window tint that acts as a mirror reflection, the laws can be set against it. Many jurisdictions only allow twenty-percent reflective tint on the vehicles. A twenty percent reflection is a reasonably dark tint, but if you’re more interested in reflective tint than ordinary tint, you will not be happy across certain jurisdictions.

Color Tint

The color of window tint seems to be of little consequence in the matter of law, but in fact, some jurisdictions do not allow any color tint to be used on vehicles. Red is explicitly restricted in the State of Colorado for example. Other colors are implicitly restricted, so you may want to be careful. The officials may decide to issue you a ticket for no reason at all. The color of tint is often treated the same way the reflective tint is treated.

Car Manufacturers Don't Have to Certify

While car manufacturers rarely if ever have to certify their compliance with the law in any jurisdiction, aftermarket window-tinters may have to certify their compliance with the law in some jurisdictions, and the certificate often has to be visible on the car driver's window. If that’s not explicitly the law, it is often recommended that the certification be visible. So, if they recommend it, you can save yourself the hassle of a court appearance by posting the certification on the driver's window.

The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to know the laws of your community, and with window tint in some states that can be important.

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