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Are Tinted Vehicle Windows Illegal?

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If you’re thinking about getting your vehicle glass tinted it’s important to know what’s legal in your state. The legal level and location of the window tint varies by state. You could get fined for breaking the law. Reputable tint shops will inform you that you can’t have your windows tinted past a certain level. Others will apply illegal window tint anyway, putting you and them in an illegal situation. It’s important to do your own research and select a reputable installer.

Window Film Application
Window film being applied to a windshield.

On which Windows Can Window Tint Be Applied?

In most states, you are allowed to tint your side windows and rear windows to some degree. The rear side and front side windows can have different allowances. While you’re likely able to apply window tint to these parts of your vehicle, many states require that tint on the front windshield be limited to only the first several inches of the top of the windshield, not extending below the AS-1 line.

Only two states, Ohio and North Dakota, allow a full windshield to be tinted, but it has to have a visible light transmission of 70% or higher. However, most states have banned the practice because tint can make it more difficult to see what’s happening on the road. This is dangerous for you and other drivers.

Check instamotor’s website for tint laws by state to see what’s legal where you live. There can also be differences based on whether you drive a sedan or a truck, van or SUV, so look out for any differences to make sure your window tint is legal.

How Much Can My Windows Be Tinted?

The darkness of allowable window tint also varies by state. Many states have different requirements for side, rear and front windows and windshields. The degree to which you can tint these windows is often described as a percentage of light transmittance. Light transmittance is the amount of light that passes through the tint. Rear and side windows are often allowed to have a lower percentage of light transmittance than the top of the windshield.

Some states also have laws about how reflective the window tint can be, so make sure to be aware of any laws pertaining to film reflectance.

For those with certain conditions, some states allow medical exemptions which require a note from a physician. Examples are for people afflicted with Lupus or similar medical conditions which require a limited exposure to light.

What If I Travel to Another State?

If you travel outside the state in which your vehicle is registered you might have some concerns. You might be worried about the level or placement of tint on your vehicle glass being prohibited in the state or states in which you’re traveling. As long as your window tint falls within the legal limits of the state in which your vehicle is registered then you should be unlikely to get ticketed.

However, if your window tint is very dark and obviously outside of legal limits you could get pulled over in or outside of the state in which your vehicle is registered.

Can I Tint My Headlights?

Tinted Mercedes Headlights


Headlight tinting has become a trend among some drivers who want to give their vehicle an interesting look. However, this can be illegal depending on where you live due to safety concerns. Applying a wrap or specialty paint to your vehicle lights can make the lights less effective. This means you won’t be able to see as well at night or in inclement weather. It also means that other drivers could have a more difficult time seeing your vehicle. This is dangerous and could lead to an accident.

Is it Safe to Tint My Windows?

You might be wondering if it’s safe to tint your windshield or vehicle windows. As long as the window tint falls within the legal limits, tint offers many benefits and can improve your driving experience. Window tint blocks UV rays, which can be harmful to your skin. For those living in sunny climates or for those who drive for extended periods of time, protection from harmful UV rays can be a major benefit.

Not only does window tint protect your skin, it can also protect your vehicle’s upholstery from fading due to long-term sun exposure. Window tint also has the ability to block solar heat since less light is able to pass through your windows, making your vehicle more comfortable and cutting down on fuel consumption caused from overusing your air conditioning.

Another benefit of having window tint installed is that it can block sun glare, ensuring that you can see better while driving. It also provides increased privacy and security since people are not able to see inside your vehicle as clearly. This can prevent thefts in some cases.

Visible Light Transmittance - Side Window Tinting
Window film being applied to a side window.

How Much Does Window Tinting Cost?

Now that you’re familiar with window film’s benefits and legal requirements, you’re probably wondering how much this will cost you. Cost depends on where you go to get your film installed and which quality of film you choose. The total could range from $100 to $800 for the entire vehicle. This depends on your vehicle’s window sizes and which tint is applied.

Colored dyed tints with metal in them are often cheaper than color stable tints, which have no metal, offer high heat rejection and are less likely to fade with time.

It’s better to choose a film of high enough quality that it won’t bubble or peel. This prevents you from having to pay to have film removed and replaced in the future. You also want to make sure you choose an experienced installer who will do the job right the first time. They can also advise you on what’s best for your vehicle and budget.

More Information About Window Tinting

If you’re interested in learning more about window tint or other types of film or glass products, you should check out the® Info Center.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Jordan Scott

Jordan Scott serves as the assistant editor for USGlass magazine. She has a background as a reporter for Tennessee’s Tullahoma News and associate producer for ABC2’s “Good Morning Maryland.” Jordan studied English and international studies at Virginia Tech where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Jordan is a voracious reader and has an extensive book collection. She is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do but jokes that she has now also earned her black belt in “attempting” to go to the gym. Jordan loves to travel and learn languages. When not abroad, she enjoys exploring new restaurants in her local Washington D.C. area. Find out more about Jordan on Linkedin.

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2 Responses

  1. Having tinted windows to help protect your skin during long drives is something I can see really being important. This is especially true for truck drivers who have to drive across long highways in the blazing sun, as that could really ruin their skin because of the UV rays. If ever I were to be a trucker myself, I’d take my truck to a window tinting expert to keep me safe for sure.

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