Understanding Car Window Tinting Laws: What You Need to Know

May 21, 2023 - 2:22 pm - 4 min read

Car window tinting has become a popular trend among car owners, not just because it offers privacy and protection against harmful UV rays, but also because it gives a car a sleek and stylish look. However, before you decide to tint your car windows, it is important to understand the laws that govern it.

What is Car Window Tinting?

Car window tinting refers to the process of adding a thin film to the inner or outer surfaces of a car’s windows to reduce the amount of light that passes through. Window tints are typically made from a thin film of polyester or other materials that are coated with a thin layer of metalized or dyed material. Car tints come in different levels of darkness, commonly referred to as VLT (Visible Light Transmission) percentages.

The Legality of Car Window Tinting

The legality of car window tinting varies from state to state and even city to city. In the United States, each state has its own laws and regulations with regards to the maximum level of VLT permitted. VLT is the amount of visible light that is allowed to pass through a car’s windows, and it is measured as a percentage.

In general, states with higher levels of sunlight exposure have stricter laws on car window tinting. For instance, states like Arizona and Texas have more lenient laws with regards to window tinting because of the high amount of sunlight they receive. On the other hand, states like Maine and Vermont have stricter laws because they receive less sunlight.

Tint Darkness Limits

The darkness of car tints is measured by the percentage of visible light transmission (VLT), with 0% meaning the windows are completely dark and 100% meaning they are completely clear. The higher the VLT percentage, the lighter the tint is.

In general, the front windshield must allow more light to pass through than any of the other windows of the car. The maximum VLT level for the front windshield varies by state, with most states allowing a maximum of 70% to 90%. This means that the front windshield must allow at least 70% to 90% of visible light to pass through.

For the side and rear windows, most states allow a lower VLT percentage. In many states, the back windows can be tinted darker than the front windows. However, there are limits to how dark the windows can be tinted.

Penalties for Illegal Tinting

A car with illegal tinting can result in a citation or fine. The amount of the fine varies by state and can range from around $50 to a few hundred dollars. In some states, the car may also be impounded until the tinting is removed.

In addition to fines and impoundment, drivers with illegal window tinting may also have their driver’s license suspended or revoked. They may also be required to attend a court hearing and have their tinting removed at their own expense.

Exceptions to the Law

There are some exceptions to the law, and in some cases, there are special permits that can be obtained that allow drivers to have darker windows than what is normally allowed by law. Some states allow for medical exemptions, where drivers with certain medical conditions can get approval to have darker tints.

In some cases, drivers may also be allowed to use specialized tinted windows for commercial use. For example, limousine and taxi companies may be allowed to tint their windows darker to provide added privacy for customers.


In conclusion, it is important to understand the laws surrounding car window tinting before starting the process. Most states have specific laws on VLT percentage for car tints, and drivers who go over the limit can face fines and other penalties. If you are considering tinting your car windows, be sure to check with your local DMV to ensure you are following the law and avoiding potential legal issues.


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