Everyone wants their car to look sleek and modern. And for many vehicle owners, that means getting their cars outfitted with custom window tints. But before setting up that appointment with your local tint shop, it’s crucial to understand your state’s specific automotive window tint laws — after all, what looks cool may not actually be legal. And driving around in a vehicle with overly dark tints can result in fines or even tickets if pulled over. For the savvy vehicle owner, knowing the ins and outs of your state’s windshield and window tinting restrictions is important.
Why Do Automotive Window Tint Laws Vary So Much Between States?
Automotive window tinting laws are determined at the state level. Although federal laws provide basic guidelines for windshield and window aftermarket tinting, regulations vary considerably from state-to-state. Most states aim to strike a balance between allowing certain levels of visibility light transmission % (VLT%) through window tint film while also minimizing driver vision obstruction from excessively dark tints. They also seek to give drivers flexibility to outfit vehicles with custom items like GreenfilmUSA window tints. But what may be perfectly legal in one state could be an offense elsewhere.
Part of the reason these motor vehicle windshield and window tint statutes span such a wide range in the United States is climate differences. The benefits and drawbacks of window tints differ substantially in sunny Southern California versus wintry Upstate New York for instance. But perhaps the biggest contributing factor is the lack of overarching federal statutes that might otherwise harmonize the web of state-level regulations so drivers don’t have to worry about such drastic variation should they travel or relocate. As such, automotive window tint laws remain far from uniform across the nation.
Front Windshield Tint Laws by State
Regulations around front windshield tinting tend to be stricter than tinting rear side windows or back glass panes due to safety concerns. Having inadequate visibility looking out towards the road ahead poses the most significant potential danger, especially in darkened nighttime driving conditions. As a result, windshield tinting laws are the area that state statutes normally restrict the most in terms of visible light transmission % (VLT%). In fact, many states outright outlaw any kind of darkening film or material on the front windshield glass.
One notable consistency nationwide is that all 50 states do allow darkness on the top portion of the windshield. This 4 to 6-inch strip at the AS-1 line provides protection from the sun and ultraviolet rays. But aside from that, front windshield tinting is typically constrained pretty tightly. A few states make narrow exceptions for medical waivers or professional window tint installations. But for regular drivers, tinting the front windshield anything more than this top visor strip section violates statutes almost everywhere. Check out this rundown of front windshield automotive tint laws by state:
|Legality of Front Windshield Tinting
|Percentage / Notes
|Legal to 6 inches from top
|Non-reflective tint allowed
Front Side Window Tint Laws by State
While front side window tinting raises less rear visibility issues compared to front windshields, states still regulate the visible light transmission % (VLT%) of darkness allowed carefully based on safety as well as law enforcement visibility concerns. To pull over a vehicle, police officers need to be able to see both the driver as well as the number of passengers inside. So front side window tint limits tend to still be quite restrictive especially on the front driver and passenger windows. However, states do generally show more leniency towards the rear side windows and vehicle back glass compared to those front driver/passenger positions. Here is an overview of front side automotive window tinting legality:
|Front Side Window Tint Restrictions
|Allowed Visible Light Transmission %
|Front side windows must have over 70% VLT
|Front 70% VLT, Back any darkness
|No front side tint permitted
|Front 0% VLT, Back any VLT %