Window Tint Laws
August 25, 2008
Window tint laws can be confusing partly because there are federal standards and state standards, and each state has its own. (The International Window Film Association’s state law chart is at iwfa.com/industry.htm.
There are also different rules for trucks, including S.U.V.’s. Worse, because of differing state laws, a darker tint that is legal in, say, Connecticut, could get you a ticket while driving through New York.
Car manufacturers live by the rules of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All car windows from the manufacturer must allow 70 percent of visible light through. What people think of as untinted car windows are actually a 70 percent tint. The federal rules for trucks, which includes S.U.V.’s, are less stringent. They are required to have a clear windshield and front windows.
Back and rear windows can be tinted to any darkness if the vehicle has side mirrors. Almost all factory tints are pretty dark, allowing in only about 20 percent of the light.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines what qualifies as a truck based on its intended use. “There is a little bit of wiggle room as to what you can classify as a truck,” said Bob Dallos, an engineering group manager for General Motors. For instance, the Chrysler PT Cruiser is classified as a truck.
Once owners get their cars from the dealer, they are held to state tinting standards. New York, for example, keeps the federal standard of 70 percent for all but the rear window, meaning owners cannot tint the other windows at all. The rear window can be tinted to any darkness if the car has mirrors on both sides
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