Is it Legal to Tint Your Windshield? Window Tint Laws by State

Did you know that tinted windows are one of the most popular upgrades among automotive enthusiasts?
It is easy to see why this dark film gives the car an elegant and sleek appearance. However, you may have also noticed that cars with tinted windshields are not that common. Sure, some will argue obstructed visibility as the primary reason for this, although most of them are not that dark. Tinted windshields are not that common because of the laws that regulate their application. This differs between the states, which is why you may find conflicting information on the Internet. You could end up with tinted windows that are unacceptable in your state. To help you avoid this from happening, we will explore how each state regulates windows tinting and find out what else you should know.

What Are The Benefits of Window Tinting?

Before getting into legal questions, we will analyze why you should consider tinting the windows on your car in the first place. An improved appearance is one of the upsides, as tinted windows will give the car a stealthy and sleek look. And with a wide range of available colors and finishes, you will easily find one that matches your vehicle perfectly. But just like with any other visual enhancement, choosing the perfect window tint comes down to personal preferences.

Anyone who lives in more southern states already knows that tinted windows also offer one more upside. By blocking a certain amount of sun rays, they will help cool down the interior of a car. As a result, the temperatures inside it will be less unbearable after being parked in the sun for hours. Not only does this improve ride comfort, but it also prevents premature interior wear. This is because plastic trim becomes brittle when exposed to excessive heat, which causes it to crack with time. Attempting to remove the residue can result in a sticky layer being left behind, which will also need to be removed!.

Lastly, purchasing a tint for your car can make it a safer place by increasing the level of privacy it offers. These windows are usually shiny and reflective, which makes seeing through them more difficult. This makes it less of a target for smash-and-run burglaries, as potential thieves cannot see what is inside the vehicle. As a result, the belongings inside your car will be safer when you leave it parked outside.

As a rule, though, most states prefer non-reflective tint on your windows to not distract other drivers.

Man Applying Tint to Side Windows of a Car

Window Tinting Laws by States

Like many other laws, those which regulate window tint laws on cars differ greatly depending on the state you live in. As a result, something that may be perfectly fine in one place may be completely illegal for road use in another. To clear this out, we have created this handy table, which you can use to determine what is the best kind of window tint you may apply on your very own vehicle. You will probably notice right away that window tint darkness depends on the state you reside in, on the rear window and front doors. There are several reasons for this, with better visibility for the driver being the most obvious one.

StateFront Side
Windows
Rear Side
Windows
Rear Window Windshield
Alabama32%32%32%Sunshade strip, 6”
Alaska70%40%30%Sunshade strip, 5”
Arizona33%No limitationsNo limitationsAS1 line
Arkansas25%25%10%Sunshade strip, 5”
California70%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip, 4”
Colorado27%27%27%Sunshade strip, 4”
Connecticut35%35%No limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
Delaware70%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
District of Columbia70%50%50%Sunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line
Florida28%15%15%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Georgia32%32%32%Sunshade strip, 6”
Hawaii32%35%35%70%
Idaho35%20%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Illinois35%35%35%Sunshade strip, 6”
Indiana30%30%30%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Iowa70%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
Kansas35%35%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Kentucky35%18%18%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Louisiana40%25%12%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Maine35%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip, 4”
Maryland35%35%35%Sunshade strip, 5”
Massachusetts35%35%35%Sunshade strip, 6”
Michigan40%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip, 4”
Minnesota50%50%50%Not allowed at all
Mississippi28%28%28%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Missouri35%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
Montana24%14%14%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Nebraska35%20%20%Sunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line
Nevada35%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
New HampshireNot allowed at all35%35%Sunshade strip, 6”
New JerseyNot allowed at allNo limitationsNo limitationsNot allowed at all
New Mexico20%20%20%Sunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line
New York70%70%No limitationsSunshade strip, 6”
North Carolina35%35%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
North Dakota50%No limitationsNo limitations70%
Ohio50%No limitationsNo limitations70%
Oklahoma25%25%25%Sunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line
Oregon35%35%35%Sunshade strip, 6”
Pennsylvania70%70%70%Not allowed at all
Rhode Island70%70%70%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
South Carolina27%27%27%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
South Dakota35%20%20%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Tennessee35%35%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Texas25%25%No limitationsSunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line
Utah43%No limitationsNo limitationsSunshade strip up to AS1 line
VermontNot allowed at allNo limitations32%32%
Virginia50%35%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Washington24%24%24%Sunshade strip, 6”
West Virginia35%35%35%Sunshade strip, 5”
Wisconsin50%35%35%Sunshade strip up to AS1 line
Wyoming28%28%28%Sunshade strip, 5” or AS1 line

What Do These Different Terms Mean?

Businessman in Black Suit Kicking and Breaking a Large Question Mark

To express how dark a particular tint may be, automotive professionals use VLT (visible light transmission). This number represents the percentage of outside light that gets into the vehicle through its windows. It is necessary to point out that lower numbers here represent a darker tint. We will explain this with a 70% tint, one of the most popular options for this application. This particular window film will block 30% of outside light from getting into the vehicle. As opposed to it, a limousine tint has a VLT value of 5, meaning it will transfer only 5% of the outside light.

Selecting a tint whose VLT value is within the legal limitations will ensure your car will be road legal. Still, things are not as simple as that, as there is another factor to consider when doing the math. The thing is that most modern vehicles already have tinted windows straight from the factory, transparent as they may be. Such windows will still affect the VLC value and darker the whole combo. And this can be a problem, as police officers determine if tinted windows are within the law using a tint meter. This purpose-built device measures the amount of light going through the foil and glass beneath it.

As our table demonstrates, most States prohibit windshield tinting in any form. Still, some of them will allow owners to install a sunshade strip. This transparent ribbon sits at the top of the windshield and prevents the sun from blinding the driver. The area this strip may take up is another thing that differs depending on the state. Some say it must not be higher than a couple of inches, while others define the AS1 line as a boundary. And that is something most drivers have never heard of, although all car windows on the market have it. This is an imaginary line set by the manufacturer, below which nothing should be installed. You can easily find it on your own car by looking for a marking at the top portion of the windshield, near one of the A-pillars.

Exceptions

Almost every law has certain exceptions from its application, and those regarding car window tinting laws are no different. Among scenarios in which a car owner could tint a windshield on their car, a medical condition is the most likely one. These include various photosensitive illnesses triggered by exposure to UV rays, such as sun allergies. So, if you have such a condition, you might get an appropriate doctor’s notice. This will allow you to tint the windshields on your car. Window tint has evolved and has even transformed to a smart tint, which will change as the weather of the sun changes – as you drive. Still, make sure to always have this notice in the car so that you can show it to a police officer.

Additionally, you should consult your local authorities regarding how dark a windshield tint on your vehicle windows may be.

You may also be considering a Chameleon tint, in which case you should check our article on the legality of Chameleon tint.

Conclusion

Most states will not allow owners to tint the windshield on their cars. This is because most of them consider that such modifications may obstruct drivers’ visibility. Still, many states allow a sunshade strip at the top of the windshield. These rules, however, may not apply to people who have sun-related illnesses. So, if you want to tint the windows on your car, make sure they are not darker than the law in your state allows.