Anyone who has looked into automotive window tint laws knows it’s a complicated affair. Tint laws vary by state and can be significantly different from one state to the next. These laws are also updated from time to time, and the wording can sometimes leave things open for interpretation. As you can guess, here at Rvinyl, we’re big fans of tinted automotive windows. Automotive tinting is our business, after all! We love the look of a car with the right tint accenting the design and finish.
To help you wade through the rules and find the window tint laws for your state, we’ve put together this article. You’ll see that with our help, you can easily determine the allowable tint level for your vehicle and avoid a hassle with law enforcement or registration officials in the future.
51 Different States, 51 Different Rules
It probably comes as no surprise to you that, when it comes to laws on window tinting, state governments make things as complicated as possible! Not known for their logic or simplicity, each state applies their own rules to automotive window tints. While this isn’t a major problem when you stay put in your home state, those who travel a lot, purchase out-of-state vehicles or move around the country can find the various tint laws by state confusing.
Thankfully there are a few states that apply the same rules. But there are many different points to consider with respect to window tint laws:
- VLT% is the measurement used to assess automotive window tints, which stands for visible light transmission. This is the percent of visible light that gets through either the film — film VLT% — or window — glass plus film net VLT%.
- Front side window tint level: This is the amount of tint (VLT%) you’re allowed on your driver and front passenger windows. This is frequently a higher value than for the rear, which allows the driver of the vehicle to be seen from outside.
- Rear side window tint level: This is the amount of tint (VLT%) you’re allowed on your rear side windows. This value is sometimes different for passenger cars and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs).
- Rear window tint level: This is the amount of tint (VLT%) you’re allowed on your rear window. This value is typically the same as for the rear side windows, but some states are more restrictive.
- Windshield: Your windshield cannot be tinted in any state, but some states allow you to add a sticker to the top of the windshield, usually in the area of the manufacturer’s sun shield.
- Color: The state laws on tint color vary from no restrictions at all to restrictions on the use of certain colors or reflective/mirrored finishes.
As you can see, there are lots of things to consider. But we don’t want to take all the fun out of tinting your windows. Adding a custom tint is a great way to enhance the look, comfort and security of your vehicle. It’s just important to be aware of all of the rules before you start to make sure that once you install your automotive tint, no one’s going to be bothering you to remove it.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
With all the criteria we mentioned above, it’s not easy to rank the different window tint laws by state. It all depends on the amount of tint and the windows you want to apply it to. We’ve put together a general list of those states that offer what we consider to be the laxest tint laws, the slightly more restrictive laws and the ones that are the tightest.
Once you see where your state lies, you can look at the specific details and find the perfect Rvinyl tint solution for your ride. Don’t worry: We have all different colors and grades of tint, so no matter where you live, you can find a legal tint.
Some of the more forgiving states when it comes to window tint laws include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming
. This is especially true for the front driver and passenger windows, where you’re allowed a low VLT%
— around 30%. Depending on the rear side, rear and color/reflectiveness requirements, the ranking of these “good” tint states gets a bit jumbled, but Montana really stands out with low VLT% requirements for all windows and few other restrictions on films. If you’re in Montana, you can stop reading now and head on through to our online catalog
and place your order! The rest of you might want to keep reading, however.
Thankfully, the bulk of the states fall more or less into this category. We would also include: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia.
As we said before, it’s possible to find your automotive tint even if you’re in some of the “bad” states, but you’ll want to pay close attention to the details for the individual windows — front side, rear side and rear — because the following states have slightly stricter window tint laws.
It’s not really fair to call these states “bad.” States have put restrictions on window tints in place for a reason. The ultimate goal is to ensure that law enforcement officials can see the driver and occupants of a car in traffic situations. While that can seem like a pain, we all know the rules are in place for the common good, so here at Rvinyl, we offer many different tints so every vehicle owner in every state can find a film that looks good, provides the privacy and protection you want and is allowed by the law. Some of the “pickier” states — especially in terms of front and rear VLT% — are:
- Alabama: Despite all the sun Alabama receives, all of your windows have to allow at least 32% light transmission.
- Hawaii: Another sunny state that requires around 1/3 of light to get through, Hawaii is a bit less restrictive when it comes to MPVs.
- Kansas: At least Kansas makes it easy: 35% VLT across the board, sides and back, for passenger cars and MPVs.
- Virginia: With a 50% VLT rating for the front side windows, car owners in Virginia have to be careful to resist the urge to go for our darker tints.
- Wisconsin: Wisconsin is as restrictive as Virginia for passenger cars and even more restrictive for MPVs.
A few other states that you
need to pay close attention to as you’re choosing your tint film are
Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana,
Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania
not all “bad” on all points, but they are fairly restrictive when it comes to
the VLT% on the front side windows, which for many drivers is the most
important window to tint.
It is important to remind
you that these states’ laws with respect to automotive window tint only apply
to on-road vehicles. If your vehicle isn’t registered for use on public roads —
such as a race or hobby car — these rules likely don’t apply. Some states will
have other rules that apply to these vehicles, but they’re generally much less
Now to the tricky tint law states. We put California on this list because of the high 70% VLT number required for the front side windows. There may not be any VLT% requirements for the other windows, which is nice, but it means you will need to apply different tints front and back. Thankfully, our Rvinyl window tint is available in different roll sizes, so even if you’re a California vehicle owner, you can do a custom DIY tint job at a great price. Delaware has virtually the same restrictions as California, but with some slight differences when it comes to reflectivity.
New York and Rhode Island have much the same tint laws, with a VLT% of 70 front and back. These states may not see as much sun as some of the southern states, but when you’re looking for a cool style and a bit of privacy, you will still want to get the maximum tint allowable. Thankfully, New York has no banned colors of tint, and Rhode Island is not very particular about either color or reflective coatings, so you can still be creative and get an awesome custom look in your car, truck, van or SUV.
Perhaps the most confusing — or specific — states are Illinois and Texas. Not content to follow the standard listings of VLT% for the front side, rear side and rear windows that all of the other states apply, both states went to the effort of creating specific addendums that outline their unique take on auto tint laws. Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, D.C. all offer fairly strict rules on at least one of the window tint criteria, and therefore they also rank on our automotive tint “naughty list!” If you live in these states, it’s worth looking up and reading the wording to make sure the tint you’re choosing meets the requirements. You’ll still be able to tint your windows, but you’ll have to pay attention to the type of vehicle you have and the different windows you’re tinting.
Of course, as with most laws, there are exceptions. Most states make provisions for medical reasons. Certain illnesses and conditions make people sensitive to light, and the laws have made provisions for these cases. You usually need to carry a doctor’s note with you in your car, but this allows you to apply a darker tint than the state normally allows. If you have light sensitivity issues, contact your doctor and see how they can help you with the necessary diagnosis and documentation.
Even if most of the rules for state window tint seem straightforward, with VLT% and size in inches for front windshield stickers, some states use slightly ambiguous terms that leave some room for law enforcement and licencing agencies to interpret. For example, terms like “non-reflective” or “non-excessive” are impossible to measure and won’t have the same meaning for every person. Will a bright red sports car with a certain tint be treated the same as a family minivan with the same tint? It’s important to choose the tint you want, but when possible, staying on the safe side and picking a slightly lighter tint can save you headaches in the future.
One important note is that most vehicles have a certain amount of light transmission blockage straight from the factory, which measures between 70-80%. This needs to be considered when you’re adding custom tint, so that you stay within the legal limits.
For example, if you were to check the percentage of VLT on a 2005 Honda Accord it would be around 75% from the factory. Adding tint would increase this further, so you need to assess the final result (original + added VLT %) to determine if you are within the legal limits.
If you’re the owner of an SUV or minivan, know that these often have a 20-35% VLT on the side rear windows, but nothing on the front. Many customers opt for our 20-35% VLT for the front windows to create a clean, homogenous look for their whole vehicle.
You might say “I don’t care,” and install the tint you want. As much as we like the look of an extremely dark tint, we want to make sure you’re aware of the risks. It is useful for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be able to see the driver of a car, to make eye contact and see which way they are looking. It is also the law that law enforcement be able to identify at minimum the driver in a vehicle. We didn’t invent the rules, and we aren’t responsible for enforcing them, but we want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the right decision.
Now the Fun Part!
Enough talk about window tint laws! Now that you know some of the guidelines for your state with respect to automotive tint laws, it’s time to have a bit of fun and choose your Rvinyl window tint! Do you want a traditional dark tint, or do you want to add a bit of color? Would a smoky look suit your car, or something high-tech and modern, like a reflective film? Our online catalog offers you tons of choices and gives you all the details you need on our quality films. And while you’re choosing your window tint, you can also check out all of our other great automotive tints and films:
- Full body wraps to completely transform your vehicle and protect it from the elements
- Interior dash kits to cover any imperfections and create a truly custom look
- Headlight and taillight tint to create a cohesive look that matches your window tint
Everything is available right here on our site. Simply click on through to our Rvinyl tint and protection page, and start your shopping.
We’re proud of our quality tint products and the great prices we can offer you. Our tints help protect your vehicle, are easy to install yourself and simply look great. We know you’re already imagining your car with a cool new tint making it look like a million bucks. You’re probably also thinking of the cool interior it provides in summer and the extra peace of mind knowing it’s more difficult to see into your car.
If you keep in mind these unique window tint laws by state while you’re selecting your tint, you’ll be sure to end up with the perfect tint that is also 100% legal in your state. That means you’ll have years of driving excitement with no hassle. Of course, if you move to a different state, our Rvinyl tint can be removed and replaced with a new film.
You can even do us a favor — and an extra bit of advertising: If you do get stopped for an automotive window tint check, don’t hesitate to tell the officer before you drive off where you got your tint. They might be interested in Rvinyl for their own ride!