Is Window Tint Legal
Any of you who have been following my posts will know that we recently discussed the meaning of tint percentages in terms of VLT (visible light transmission) and tint darkness. This is an important topic for consideration and not just for aesthetic reasons (i.e., you want your car to have a dark enough tint to look good) but for legal issues as well (you don’t want you tints to get you a ticket). In my last post I tried to point out that the legal limit for tint percentages varies from state to state so it is always important for you to check with your local authorities to be sure that your tint falls within the acceptable range. One great way to be sure you are in compliance with state laws is to check out our helpful tint law guide.
It's not that simple...
Most people would naturally assume that once you've figured out what the legal limits for tint percentages are in your state you simply have to purchase tints that don't fall afoul of these limits. Usually this means purchasing tints that are no darker than 35 percent (although some states make things much more difficult and require a maximum of 50 percent VLT). But, like most things in life it’s not that simple because there are a few other real life factors that you need to consider before taking your newly tinted ride out for a spin or, worse, in for an inspection.
Failed your inspection? Picked up a ticket?
Speaking of inspections, I was recently contacted by a customer who failed his because the tint he had purchased (a 35% complete window tint kit) had just caused him to fail inspection. The customer was stumped as to how this could have occurred given that 35% was the legal limit in their state and naturally assumed that our tint was faulty. Despite repeated assurances that this was not the case the customer was adamant that our tint was to blame. However, there are at least two major factors to consider which I will outline below and which anyone who lives in a state where you can be failed or ticketed for window tint violations would do well to consider before buying and installing tint.
Perhaps the single greatest factor which people rarely if ever take into account is that window glass is not completely transparent. In other words, even the glass itself does not allow for the passage of 100% of visible light. In short, you have to remember that the tint lets through 35% and the glass only lets through approximately 90 percent so if you do the math that is 31.5% which is much closer to what your actual reading. The tint is probably very close to what they claim it is.
Another issue is that many vehicles come with factory-installed tint or are ex-police vehicles that are auctioned off to the public. You are therefore not starting from a clean slate but simply adding your tint onto what is already there. As dfelt from Cheers and Gears points out, you "now you see a ton of private people and taxis driving these used cop cars...[they are] illegal for us to tint and drive them so you get nailed with a $200+ fine and yet the cops can do it and use it to sneak up and ticket you." So, you really can't be too careful before applying new tint to your windows.
Perhaps the only way to be sure is by purchasing a tint meter like those sold at the Tint Meter Warehouse (I mean, where else would you go for a tint meter but a place that claims to be a whole warehouse full of them?).
Like It or Not, It's the Law
It is clear that window tint laws exist for good reason: to insure that our drivers can well-enough and not become a danger to themselves or anyone else on the road. Because of this it’s to know the factors which might contribute to over-dark tint not only to avoid failing inspection or getting a ticket but to protect both ourselves and everyone else.