CALIFORNIA CAR WINDOW TINT LAWS
Tinting your car windows can create a lot of advantages, including reduced glare, reduced heat, and increased visual style. However, the legality of tinted windows vary from state to state, and within California, the amount of tint allowed may vary from car to car, and even window to window!
Here’s a quick rundown of how California car window tint laws work in 2019.
Can You Get Pulled Over for Tinted Windows in California?
Yes. California vehicle code, division 12, chapter 4, section 26708 restricts the tint darkness, reflectiveness, color, and placement of window tint with regard to a private vehicle. Should your car violate the statewide regulations, you may be pulled over and issued a ticket that will require you to remove or replace the car window tint to comply with the code, plus pay a fine.
In the event the placement and darkness of your car window tint is not obvious, a police officer or state patrol person may take measurement with a light reading device to determine whether it comports with the law.
How Dark Can Your Windows Be in California?
The darkness of car window tint is measured numerically in what is called VLT, or visible light transmission. This measures the percentage of sunlight that may pass through the window. For example, a 50 percent VLT means half the visible light passes through a window, while 40 percent means the window tint is darker, allowing less than half the visible light to pass through.
In California, provided you have two working side mirrors for safety, there is no limit to how dark a tint is applied to your rear windshield, nor any backseat windows. However, when it comes to your front seat and both driver and front passenger windows, there are strict limits on how dark a car’s tinted window may be: 70 percent VLT.
Furthermore, the vehicle’s front windshield cannot have any tinting, except for a strip across the top of the windshield to protect against glare. How thick a strip depends on your car. With the driver’s seat adjusted as low and far back as it goes, any tint may only be applied more than 29 inches above the level of the seat.
On average, this allows most vehicles four or five inches of tint, at most, but cars with lower seats and/or taller windshields may be allowed more — though bear in mind, more than five inches of tint visible on the upper edge of a windshield might cause police to pull you over, just in case.
What Percent Tint Is Legal?
When it comes to the overall darkness of your car’s tinted windshield and front windows, the 70 percent VLT comes with a caveat: the car window tint itself may be no lower than 88 percent VLT. That’s because most modern vehicles leave the factory already tinted to some degree, and combining aftermarket tint makes it even darker.
What percentage is factory tint? On most vehicles, it’s around 80 percent VLT. When you install an 88 percent VLT aftermarket tint to a factory window tinted to 80 percent VLT, the combined darkness results in 70 percent VLT, a.k.a. the combined legal limit.
Is reflective or colored tint legal?
The short answer here is no.
Any tint added to any car window must be non-reflective. This means mirrored, reflective tint will be an automatic ticket. Any material more reflective than untreated glass violated the vehicle code. At the same time, the window tint may not be either red or amber in color.
Make sure your window tint is professionally certified at Car Audio City
One last important facet of California vehicle code state that, if you are pulled over for window tint, you must be able to provide a signed certificate from the installer that certifying that the window tint meets California requirements. Car Audio City located in National City, CA will always provide you with certified, worry-free window tint installation. Give us a call today if you have any questions on car window tinting.