Can a Cop Pull You Over for Tint?
Having tinted windows on your car can provide many benefits, including reduced glare, increased privacy, and protection for your interior and passengers. However, overly dark window tinting is illegal in many states. So, can a cop pull you over for tint? The short answer is yes – if your tint surpasses the legal allowances in your state, you may get pulled over and cited. Keep reading to learn more about window tinting laws, what happens if you get pulled over, and how to avoid citations.
What is Tint and Why Do People Tint Their Windows?
Window tint or window film refers to special treatments applied to car windows to darken or color them. People tint their car windows for various reasons:
Types of Tint
There are a few main types of tint:
- Dyed tint – Colored during manufacturing to permanently darken windows
- Carbon tint – Made with carbon particles for a darker appearance
- Ceramic tint – High-tech nano-ceramic particles block heat and UV rays
- Metallic tint – Tiny metal particles reflect heat and light
Pros and Cons of Window Tinting
Some benefits of tinted windows include:
- Reduced glare and eye strain
- Protection from UV rays
- Temperature control inside car
- Reduced sun damage to interior
However, the cons of illegal tint are primarily legal penalties if pulled over. It can also make night driving more difficult.
Laws and Regulations on Window Tinting by State
Each state sets its own laws on allowable window tint. Some key things to know:
States with Specific Laws on Window Tinting
Many states prohibit aftermarket tinting of the front windshield and specify percentages allowed on front side windows. For example:
- Florida allows up to 28% tint on front side windows
- In California, front side windows can have up to 70% tint
Percentage Allowances by State
- The percentage refers to how much visible light can pass through the window tint – so higher percentages mean lighter tint.
- Front side windows generally range from allowing 35-75% light transmission.
- Back side and rear windows often do not have percentage restrictions.
States with No Window Tinting Laws
A few states like South Dakota and Wyoming have no current laws on car window tinting percentages. However, obstructed views may still warrant citations.
When Can You Get Pulled Over for Illegal Tint?
There are a few situations when a cop may notice and cite you for tint that breaks state laws:
During Regular Traffic Stops
If pulled over for another offense like speeding, an officer may tack on an additional fine if your tint looks darker than legal limits. This adds cost to an already expensive traffic violation.
Obstructed View Citations
Regardless of state law percentages, excessively dark tint could earn you a citation for obstructing immediate view out front side windows. Officers need to easily see inside a car for safety purposes.
Equipment Violation Citations
Tint categorized as overly dark for your state could lead to fines for improper vehicle equipment violations. The specific statutes cited depend on each state’s laws.
What Happens When You Get Pulled Over for Tint
If those blinking police lights are triggered by unlawful tint, here’s what to expect:
Getting a Fix-It Ticket
In some cases, you may receive a “fix-it” notice requiring you to remove window tint or have it lightened to bring your car into compliance. Consequences for non-compliance vary based on location.
You may have to schedule a tint removal appointment and pay for it out of pocket. Leaving tint in place risks additional fines.
You may need to take your newly tint-free car to an inspection station within a certain timeframe to avoid further penalties.
In addition to remediation, states impose monetary fines for illegal window tint violations:
Fines typically start around $25 for a first offense but some states impose fines up to $500+.
The more times you’re caught driving with noncompliant tint, the steeper the fines tend to become in most places.
Points on License
Unlike a speeding ticket, in most states a citation for illegal tint will NOT add points to your driver’s license. However, some exceptions apply – check your state’s regulations.
How to Avoid Getting Pulled Over for Tint
Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent issues with noncompliant window tint:
Check Your State’s Laws
Before installing any tint, research exact percentage allowances for front and rear windows where you live. For example:
Front Window Allowances
If your state permits 50% light transmission, don’t go darker than 50%.
Back Window Allowances
Back windows may have different (or no) percentage restrictions – confirm what’s acceptable.
Get a Legal Tint Installation
Reputable professional tint shops are familiar with auto regulations in their operating area. Utilize their expertise:
Ensure the shop will tint to lawful percentages and provide documentation on the film used.
Keep paperwork on tint percentages and the installation date in your car as proof of compliance.
While window tinting can provide many benefits for your driving experience, overly dark tint comes with legal risks in most states. To avoid fines – or orders to remove illegal film – carefully research and follow regulations for window visibility percentages wherever you drive. Both front and rear tint maximums are essential to comply with. A professional tint shop familiar with your area’s standards can ensure your car’s Film stays on the right side of the law.
Can you get points on your license for window tint?
In most states, an illegal tint citation does not add points to your license. However, a few exceptions like Florida do impose points along with fines for non-compliant film.
Is 5% tint too dark?
Yes, 5% tint that only allows 5% of light transmission is likely too dark for front side windows in all states. Many places restrict front side tint to 35% or lighter. However, back window and rear side tint is sometimes permitted at 5% or darker.
Do cops really check window tint?
Yes, police officers can and do issue “fix it” tickets and fines to drivers with darker than legal tint. They may use special tint meters to check percentages during traffic stops. It’s not worth the citation risk.
Can you get a doctor’s note for window tint?
Most states make no medical exceptions to window tint darkness levels. A doctor’s note typically will not prevent you from getting cited for overly tinted windows.
What percentage tint is allowed on front windshield?
Window tint generally cannot be darker than 30% light transmission on front windshields in states that do permit it at all. And many states completely prohibit aftermarket tint film on front windshields.