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Pimping Your Ride: All About Window Tint Laws And Exemptions

by Jesus Turner

While window tint is a necessity in states with bright sun, like Florida or Southern California, some car owners use it for other purposes. Laws vary from state to state as to what degree of tinting is allowed, but there are exceptions to these laws.

Window Tinting In a Nutshell

Window tinting's main purpose is obviously to block a certain level of light from entering your car. It protects you and your car's interior from being damaged by ultra-violet rays, and increases visibility by blocking glare. Newer cars come with standard factory-installed window tinting, but older cars may have damaged or insufficient tinting. Antique cars originally have none at all.

What Are the Legal Levels of Window Tinting

The laws vary from state to state, with some state laws being stricter than others. Most laws address the percentage of light the tinting allows through the window. The windshield usually is required to have a higher light transmittance percentage than the side or rear windows. All state laws prohibit mirrored, opaque or one-way glass.

Medical Exemptions

If you are a driver or frequent passenger in a car and have a verified vision-related or sun-sensitivity condition, there are exemptions to allow darker tinting. Such conditions include melanoma, lupus, photosensitivity and allergy to sunlight. You must be able to provide documentation if stopped by law enforcement that:

  • States what the medical necessity is and the specific requirements of sunlight exposure, such as a detailed statement from a medical professional or a prescription.
  • Verifies that the vehicle is exempted due to medical necessity.
  • States the duration or expiration date of the exemption or prescription.

Contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what exemptions, if any, are available and how to obtain them.

Cost of Window Tinting

The cost of after-market tinting depends on the type and sometimes the make and model of your car. Trucks and SUVs may cost less or slightly more than a standard sedan. Beware of unscrupulous businesses offering rock-bottom bait prices.

Window tinting is a necessity in some areas of the country, and state laws vary as to the particular percentage of light transmission required. All states prohibit tint that completely blocks an inside view of the vehicle. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles for the requirements if you have a medical condition that makes you sensitive to light. If your car has insufficient or damaged tinting, a window tinting professional can help you choose which tint is right for you.