Your AAA Network

Everything You Need to Know About Window Tint Laws

How dark your windows are allowed to be depends on what state you're driving in. But even then, window tint laws can be confusing.

window tint legal limit

You may not have realized it, but your car windows are most likely tinted – just about all cars roll off the assembly line with glass featuring some level of tint. Tinting has several benefits, but darker windows also create safety hazards. Because of this, window tint laws exist in every state.

There’s often a great deal of confusion over window tint regulations, primarily because they differ throughout the country. Some states allow for much darker windows than others. It’s important to brush up on these laws, especially if you’re considering adding additional tint to your car’s windows.

What Are Window Tints?

Window tints are thin, dark sheets of film applied to a car’s glass to help keep light out of the cabin. Most new cars come standard with some level of window tinting but aftermarket window tints are available as well.

Tinting serves several purposes. Most notably, it protects against the sun’s harmful UVA rays, which cause skin cancer as well as damage and fading to the vehicle’s interior. Window tints also help keep the cabin temperature cooler, cut down on glare from the sun and headlights, and provide car owners with a level of privacy and security. Some people simply like the way they look.

But with all these benefits comes one major drawback: visibility. The darkness of window tints makes them more difficult to see through, particularly at night, creating a safety hazard.

30 DIY Car Care Projects.

Learn about which car care tasks you should take on and which you should leave to an AAR shop!

Download Now!

Window Tint Laws

Are window tins legal?

Laws regulating window tinting in passenger cars are found in every state. These statutes dictate how much light is able to pass through the glass, a measurement known as visible light transmission percentage. The darker the window tint, the lower the percentage. VLT is usually checked as part of your vehicle’s annual state inspection.

The allowable VLT percentage minimum or legal window tint percentage varies from state to state, from 20% in New Mexico to 70% in New York, Rhode Island, California, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Iowa and Washington, D.C. Three states (New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont) don’t allow any tinting.

widow ting legal limit

Window tint laws mainly focus on a car’s front side windows, although many states also have rules regarding back side and rear windows. States may allow for more tinting on back side windows, but, if so, usually require a car have dual side mirrors. Rear windows are often permitted to be darker than front side windows, as well.

Nowhere in the country are windshields allowed to be tinted except along the top of the glass pane. How far down the tinting is permitted to extend also varies by state.

Window tint laws can be complicated. For example, Michigan allows any percentage of tinting but only on the top 4 inches of the window. Some states allow tints to include metallic or mirrored elements, but many states ban such products. Further muddling the issue is the fact many states have different tinting laws for sedans than they do for trucks, minivans and SUVs.

It’s best to consult your state’s department of motor vehicles to know the window tint legal limit and what is and isn’t allowed.

Exemptions

Most states allow exemptions to window tints laws for people with medical conditions causing severe light sensitivity. Such conditions include albinism, dermatitis, dermatomyositis lupus, porphyria and drug photosensitivity, among others. If you require a window tint medical exemption, you can apply for one through your state’s department of motor vehicles.

Are Window Tint Laws Applicable if You’re Traveling Through Another State?

When in another state, you’re subject to that state’s laws, including those dictating window tinting. Some states provide exemptions to their tint laws to those just passing through, but many do not. In the latter case, you could be subject to a citation if your windows are too dark. That said, if you explain that you’re only visiting and your windows are in compliance in your home state, you may be able to get off without a ticket.

Have a question about car tinting? Post it in the comments below!

For more news and notes on all things automotive, head to AAA.com/CarsTrucks.

Comments
  • A police officer/safety officer once told me that he was against most (but not all, e.g., top of front windshields) tinting in that a child could be strapped into a rear seat, forgotten about, and suffocating in a very hot car, or someone could be abducted and restrained and pleading for help but never seen by a passerby. Just two examples of public safety concerns, and there are several more.

    Reply
    • Sadly, a person could be in the back of an SUV or a van with no rear windows and you couldn’t see in it either.

      Reply
    • I drive down Cranston St in Providence daily. There are lots of cars with windshields that are fully tinted. Evidently the drivers must think they look cool and can’t be identified. I wonder how they get away with this.

      Reply
  • Robert S.

    So if I buy a car in Nevada and move to a state with a no tint law do I have to have all the tint removed?

    Reply
    • Yes, you need to obey the laws of the state your car is registered in. You should be able to drive thru the state without an issue though.

      Reply
    • Kevin F.

      I once bought a car from a company I won’t name…Ford….that had factory tinted windows. The first year I went for an inspection sticker in my state (MA) I couldn’t get one because the tint was too dark and therefor illegal. I had to pay to have it removed, the dealer I bought the car from who I won’t name….Ford dealer….wouldn’t do it without charging me. I took it elsewhere.

      Reply
      • Well, first off, it was dealer applied. Most EVERY SUV (outside of base models) have tinted rear passenger, cargo and tailgate door windows tinted. This is NOT a coating that can be removed, it IS the glass itself. Any film type tinting is generally after market applied, weather it be by your dealer or a business that provides that service. Just my knowlege on the subject.

        Reply
      • Try another inspection place, I live in Ma also. I have them check mine before I give them my money and do anything else first. I’ve had legal tint fail to a meter. I deemed the meter to be wrong. I went to another place and it wasn’t a problem. Same with factory tinted tail lights. If it’s legal and you know it is. Tell them to pound sand and go somewhere else.

        Reply
    • Patrick K.

      It is all about the money. They pulled you over because they know that it would be difficult to come back to court to fight it.

      Reply
  • Patricia R.

    I have a large chip in my windshield from driving through a construction site- should I have it fixed?

    Reply
    • Andrew S.

      Hi Patricia, thanks for the question. Yes, you should always repair a damaged windshield as soon as possible. You can find more info here:

      Reply
  • Keith H.

    I live in NJ, and see cars with fully-tinted windows, including rear window and sometimes windshields all the time. Down the street from me is a Auto Window tinting company that performs that service, mostly on upscale vehicles. Police do nothing, but in the present political situation I understand why. Enforcement would also be tantamount to shoveling sand against the tide. Bad situation, no hope in sight…

    Reply
    • This is where the local govt sees that a law in ineffective and remove or delete. This is the same with transport or carry gun laws. You can be completely legal in your home state, cross a border and you are subject to incarceration. These laws should be standardized.

      Reply
  • Larry D.

    Unless the law has changed, RI inspection rules are NO aftermarket tinting allowed.
    I have twice been forced to remove professionally install tinting. Both cars came from Fla and were not ‘excessively’ tinted (blacked out).

    Reply
    • I also live in RI and I see heavily tinted glass all the time. Let’s face it; laws are not uniformly enforced. How many times have you seen luxury cars with one license plate?

      Reply
      • victor g.

        Hi there! I also live in Rhode Island, few years ago i had my car windows tinted, the guys doing did not tell me anything about laws allowing it or not , well, needless to say, I was stopped and forced to remove it. after that I saw a lot of cars with tinted windows even darker than mine. Not fair!!! why do they even allow these window tinting places to even offer it? I guess the cops are not doing their job..

        Reply
  • Dear AAA, i bought a new car & requested no window tint, but they said the windows are factory-tinted & that’s the way the car is made. My question: is there any way i can remove the window tint. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Andrew S.

      Hi Michele, thanks for the question. Here’s an answer from our Car Doctor John Paul: Factory tint is made into the glass. Only add-on aftermarket tint can be removed. Most factory tint is quite translucent on the front windows a bit darker on the rear windows if it is an SUV or van. The windshield if tinted at all is just the top couple of inches.

      Reply
  • Rhode Island: Tint Laws, Driver and passenger windows are only allowed what the manufacturer installs as original Equipment low E glass. If it can be removed it is not allowed. (from the state inspection handbook) so it’s left up to the inspection station to police it! Most don’t want to alienate their customer, so they ignore it. So think of the officer who stops a vehicle at night on RT 95 and can’t see what’s going on inside, talk about dangerous!

    Reply
    • I live in RI and see lots of cars, presumably driven by younger persons, with dark tint on all windows (sometimes, even the windshield). I have never heard if anyone being forced to remove their aftermarket tint. I guess inspection garages, and even many police, don’t enforce the laws, or, selectively enforce them. Personally, I think the majority of dark tint vehicles are suspect, as in they’re trying to hide something (puff-puff). Plus, there’s the safety issue of poor night visibility.

      Reply
    • This was the case until recently. Now stations are required to take photographs of the front window to show no tint

      Reply
  • No aftermarket, ‘too dark to see who is behind them), tints should be allowed in any State, on front door windows of vehicles. If they are present, strong, meaningful fines should be levied, and if not removed (proof required) within 30 days, registrations on the vehicle(s), not renewed unless they pass a DMV inspection proving they have been removed. Who, including law enforcement people, thinks anyone should be ‘forced’ to approach a vehicle with visually impenetrable window tinting, for any reason, and possibly face a gun blast or other hostile action from the (invisible) person behind such a window?!

    Reply
    • oh please the NYC PD is barely permitted to do their real jobs. The woke crowd would be tying up the streets with more protests if the police gave out tickets. Criminals have more rights here and there are Plenty of inspectors willing to look the other way on almost every illegal car issue.

      Reply
  • Biggest reason drivers have increased their tinting recently? So they can use their cell phones undetected.

    Reply
  • Harry M.

    New York residents who want to evade tinting laws have an easy way to do so. They register their cars in other states. Though contrary to sec. 250 of the NYS DMV rules, New York’s local and state police rarely enforce this. In addition to losing many $ millions, this is yet another reason to begin to do so.

    Reply
  • In my area I have seen black cars with just about black windows. To my surprise the county sheriff was driving one. I asked the city police if those black windows were against the law. They said yes but those cars were for undercover police so they wouldn’t be recognized.

    Reply
  • Peter W.

    Being the cynic that I am, it seems to me that most heavily tinted cars are that way because the owners don’t want the rest of us, especially police, to see what’s inside. Also, tinting is dangerous to me as a driver because it blocks me from knowing if the people in the other car can see me.

    Reply
  • I recently purchased a pre-owned vehicle in New Jersey. The windows were tinted. I paid someone to remove the tint. Why was the NJ dealer allowed to sell the vehicle if NJ doesn’t allow tinting of any kind?

    Reply
  • I bought a used car from someone and they purchased it from out of state. The tint that is on this car was after market and not put on very professionally. The side passenger window is wavy and the back window is hard to see out at night. The tint is also purple which I’ve never seen before. Seeing as I have trouble seeing out, would my insurance cover replacement of the windows??

    Reply
    • Andrew S.

      Hi Gail, thanks for reaching out. You’ll need to consult your insurance company for details on the policies of your coverage.

      Reply
    • If the tint is wavy, then it would be very easy for either a tint shop or probably any body shop to remove it. Shouldn’t cost much.

      Reply
  • David K.

    I thought police departments also had a stake in being able to view the driver and others in a car. There was a time some years ago it became a big issue in NYC, raised by the cops.

    Reply
  • Margaret E.

    For NY: We had the tint done after we bought the car by a company recommended by the dealer. We had it for security, especially at night. Last year the dealer told us we had to remove the tint or the car would not pass inspection. We removed it.

    Reply
  • No tint is legal in NY. A factory window will test at about 75% VLT so any added tint will render the window illegal.

    Reply
  • I don’t understand how I see many NY vehicles w/the blackest of tints…where are they going for inspection. These tints are so black that you can not even identify if theres a driver!!

    Reply
  • I remember when I first moved to Tucson, I got a ticket for tinted windows. When I went to court, there were five others there with the same ticket by the same statie. Bottom line, they were having a training day on “tinted windows” because they had recently had a shooting from the back seat because the officer couldn’t see in.

    Reply
  • Nancy M.

    As someone who is short, I wish there was a way that windshield and driver side windows could be tinted at least halfway down (or photo-sensitive) to reduce dangerous sunrise/sunset glare problems!! Ciders are never low enough!

    Reply
  • Article information stating that NJ does not allow any tinting is incorrect. Check the MV regulations: Non-OEM tinting is not allowed on the windshield or driver and passenger side windows. It is allowed on rear side and back windows, with limitations.

    Reply
  • Ronald J.

    Well the story I heard about the NY law was that it began way upstate (possibly Buffalo or at least that far upstate) because a police officer’s wife was concerned that people with nefarious desires might be able to hide weapon(s) when her husband would be approaching a stopped vehicle. With my eyesight, night driving became much easier with the side and rear window tinting that greatly reduced eye strain in one vehicle decades ago.

    Reply
  • In NY I believe that commercial vehicles are aloud to have windows tinted. Can anyone confirm?

    Reply
  • Put all windows half way down as a courtesy to the officer if you are being pulled over and you have tint. They appreciate it. The resulting stop will usually have a different outcome.

    Reply
  • I hate tinted windows and avoid them like the plague. Why? Because I can’t see out of them!

    Reply
  • Francisco M.

    Anybody know about MA laws? In my city all the police cars the windows are tinted so dark you can’t see who’s driving

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter Your Log In Credentials
Larger version of the image
Send this to a friend