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Are tinted windows illegal in USA?

Are tinted windows illegal in USA?

If you’ve watched any blockbuster action movie that touches on themes like political drama or terrorism, chances are that you can easily spot and even describe a state vehicle. Additionally, taglines such as “black SUV” and “tinted window” are also likely to pop up in your description. Since civilians are also allowed to have tinted windows on their vehicles, more people are following the same trend of having excessively tinted windows. However, motorists seem to have lost grasp of what the law demands of them when it comes to having tinted windows on personal vehicles.

Firstly, it is worth mentioning that window tint laws in the U.S. vary depending on the state in which you are in. As such, having your windows tinted red in Arizona, for instance, might land you in a court of law in Kansas for violating window tint laws. These disparities in window tints that are allowable by a specific state make it difficult to generalize on the window tinting rules in the U.S. as a whole. However, mentioning a few of the window tint laws in different states may provide a clearer answer to the question on whether tinted windows are illegal in the U.S.

Tint Laws in New York, California, and Texas

The state of New York enacted its automobile window tint law in 1991. It permitted motorists a visible light transmission level of their liking for all windows except for the windshield and the front side window. Motorists in the state also enjoy flexibility on the kind of tints they can have on their vehicles since the tint’s percentage of reflectivity is not regulated.


On the other hand, the state of California only permits a visible light transmission of 70% for the front side window and any for the other windows in the vehicle. The only exception is that red, amber, and blue tints are prohibited.

Texas also allows motorists to choose the different tints for the front and back sides of their vehicles. However, the allowable visible light transmission is 25% for the front side and for the windshield while the percentage reflectivity should not exceed 25%. It is also worth noting that some windows, for example the windows found behind the driver’s seats in a truck, can be tinted with almost any color without deeming the tinted windows illegal.

Apart from the concerns on the transparency of the windshield tint, many states also revile having motorists tint their side windows. This is partly because traffic police officers usually find it easier to judge a driver’s character and motives before asking him/her to step out of the vehicle.