Good Question: What’s the law on tinted Windows?
ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) – Let’s answer a good question about a state law. This one is about our cars and windows.
Dark tinted windows. What’s the law? Is it really enforced?
Here’s one email:
“I see countless vehicles every day with tint so dark you can’t even see an outline of the occupants. I’m sure the law is still on the books but there no longer appears to be any enforcement of the law, let alone a crackdown.”
“I thought that tinted windows on vehicles were illegal. I see newer vehicles with their front windows tinted all the time. What’s the scoop?”
The short, simple answer is yes. Windows that are too dark are still illegal.
This issue actually got some new attention back in 2017. That’s when window tint testing was added to your state safety inspection.
Here are the rules on the books. The windshield and front side windows cannot block more than 30% of the light. This law also applies to the rear window unless the vehicle has outside rear-view mirrors on both sides.
Rear side windows must also allow at least seventy percent of light from the outside to pass through the window if the vehicle is classified as a "passenger car".
The Department of Motor Vehicles put out a whole video campaign about this, showing how you use specialized meters to check windows. Now, it’s not illegal to be in the window tinting business, but the DMV stresses “It is illegal to sell, offer for sale, or install glass that does not comply with this law.”
So how about policing it? I asked Rochester Police Department for the numbers on violations from 2019, the most recent “normal” year of traffic pre-pandemic.
Here’s what I got:
- 138 tickets were issued under all sections of traffic law concerning tint and items attached to car windows like stickers — something other than your registration and inspection.
- That same year, deputies in Monroe County also issued a few dozen tickets for illegal windshields, 34 in total.
A simple and obvious way to see if your windows are okay — look through the windshield. If you can’t make out shapes, like the steering wheel or seats, not good.
Also, on a sunny day, look at your car. If you think the reflection is blinding because that’s how tint works by reflecting the sun, it might not be legal.
There are a few exceptions under the law.
Drivers can apply for exemptions if they have a medical condition requiring them to have tinted windows. There’s a form you have to fill out and get signed by your doctor to do that.