Blacked-out car windows can look sleek and polished, but if you live in a state where such tint is illegal, it could also come with a hefty fine. Before you tint your windows, be sure to check out the laws for your state so you know where you can apply the tint to your car and just how dark it can be. Below, you can learn more about searching for the laws in your state and discover some of the different laws that apply to window tint.
Visible Light Reduction and What You Need to Know
Each of the 50 states has its own unique laws surrounding automotive window tint, and most refer to the percentage by which you can reduce visibility into your car or truck. This is known as “visible light reduction”. However, before relying on that percentage alone, you first need to know whether the law applies to the film itself or to the amount of visible light blocked by the tint and the window combined. Most states’ laws apply to the “net” visible light reduction.
To put this into perspective, in the state of Delaware, the law states you can reduce visible light by 70% on the front sides, but this is a net law, which means the combination of visible light reduction from your tint and your window cannot exceed 70%. Conversely, in Kentucky, you can only block 35% of the visible light on the front sides, but this law applies only to the film – the amount of visible light blocked by the window itself is not factored into the law.
What Do States Regulate?
Now that you understand that different states have different laws regarding visible light reduction, you should also consider the different parts of your car that a state can regulate. Each state has its own laws that apply to the front sides (driver and passenger doors), rear sides (backseat doors), the back glass, and the visor, which is the strip at the top of your windshield designed to help block glare. For the front sides, rear sides, and back, most states use the visible light reduction percentage laws.
When it comes to the visor, however, visible light reduction no longer applies. Your window tint can be as dark as you’d like, but the law dictates how far down the windshield you can apply that tint. In most states, you can tint four to six inches legally. In others, the law refers to “AS1”, which is a term used in the glass industry that means it is approved safety glass. This portion of your windshield consists of a sheet of plastic sandwiched between two panes of glass. You should see a line on your windshield where the safety glass ends. For states that utilize AS1 window tint laws, that line is the lower limit for your tint.
Traveling with Tinted Windows
Finally, many people have questions about whether it is legal for them to travel out-of-state with tinted windows. To put this in perspective, in Iowa, your front windows can block 70% of visible light, but in Illinois, the next state over, the visible light reduction limit is 35%. Again, whether or not it is legal for you to drive your car through states with stricter tinting laws than your own truly depends on the state.
To give an example, the state of Florida provides no exceptions for automobiles registered in other states, and officers can issue tickets if your tint is darker than the state allows (28% for front windows). On the other hand, in New York, you can block 70% of visible light on both your front and rear windows. However, if you are visiting from Missouri, where it is legal to block 100% of visible light on your rear windows, you are exempt from the law as long as your tint follows the laws set forth by your own state.
If you have questions about the laws surrounding window tint in your state, there are several resources online that can help. In fact, there is an entire website dedicated to providing the latest and most thorough information regarding tint laws for all 50 states. If you will travel, check state laws ahead of time, too.