As the sun glares in your eyes, you sit and you think that you wish you had a tinted windshield. It makes sense, it is the largest window on most cars and lets in the most light. Tinting your front windshield can protect your dash, protect you from the sun and reduce your chances for skin cancer and dramatically reduce temperatures in your car. In addition it can also reduce glare, improve visibility, reduce eye fatigue and protect you from flying glass should your glass break.
What is window tinting? When it comes to cars, trucks, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles? In practical terms, window tinting refers to methods that prevent certain levels of light from passing through the safety glass — meaning the windshield, side windows, and rear window of a vehicle. Most people think of tint as being dark which can reduce visibility, but advances in film technology has made it possible to have an almost clear film that reduces more heat than many of the darker films and improves day and night time visibility.
So can you tint your windshield in Kentucky legally?
The department of transportation “DOT” says that you can apply a protective coating as long as the total VLT doesn’t go darker than 70%. As long as you use a film that has a VLT of 90% or higher then you will still be legal. So according to DOT laws you can have window tint on your front windshield.
Currently the only film you can use to meet federal laws for the front windshield is 90%. All newer cars have a very light tint to the windshield, usually 77% to 80%. If you put anything darker than 90% you will not meet federal laws.
Some people believe that vehicle window tinting keeps the temperature inside a car cooler, while others just think window tinting makes a car look cooler. And in some cases, drivers or passengers may have a legally recognizable medical need to have tinted vehicle windows, even when the tint level would otherwise violate their state’s vehicle code.
Whatever your reason for wanting tinted windows on your car, truck, or other passenger vehicle, you should get familiar with laws that regulate vehicle window tinting, as well as exemptions under those laws. Here you will find basic information on window tinting laws, “medical necessity” exemptions, and more. (also see: State-Specific Information on Vehicle Window Tint Laws)
Window Tinting Basics
The safety glass on most newer cars and passenger vehicles has been coated or treated so that some degree of window tinting is in place, to keep out harmful ultra-violet (UV) rays. This tinting is done during the manufacturing process, and is almost always in compliance with federal and state window tinting laws and regulations. But window tinting can also be done after a vehicle has been manufactured and sold as after market. And it is when these modifications are made that window tint laws are most often violated.
Window Tint Laws
Vehicle window tinting is almost always regulated under state law, and the applicable statutes can usually be found in a state’s vehicle or traffic code. The applicable vehicle code section in your state may discuss vehicle window tinting as Material Obstructing or Reducing Driver’s View.
Your state’s vehicle code may consider “window tinting” to include:
Heat-shrinking a tinted sheet of film to a vehicle’s windshield or window, usually on the inside surface of the glass. This is usually done “after-market.” “Shade bands,” usually meaning a thin, horizontal strip of tint at the top of a vehicle’s windshield, where it meets the vehicle roof. Sunscreen devices that are temporarily affixed to the inside surface of a vehicle’s windshield, side windows, or rear window (i.e. a plastic shade device on a passenger side window, held in place with suction cups). Most state laws on vehicle window tinting are concerned mainly with the levels of “light transmittance” or “luminous reflectance” that the vehicle’s safety glass allows — meaning how much light can get through and how much visibility the glass allows. So, if the windows on a vehicle are tinted to such a degree that the amount of light that can come through is below the amount identified under state law (i.e. 75% light transmittance), then the vehicle does not comply with the state’s vehicle code, and the vehicle’s owner will be issued a citation. Many state vehicle codes contain different light transmittance requirements for the vehicle’s front windshield, when compared with standards for the vehicle’s side and rear windows.
Finally, most state vehicle codes specify that no vehicle windshield or window may contain opaque or mirrored material, or “one-way” glass.
Does Your Vehicle’s Window Tinting Violate Your State’s Laws?
Measurements like “light transmittance” and “luminous reflectance” can be difficult to understand, let alone calculate with any level of confidence. So you may want to have your vehicle inspected to determine whether it is in compliance with your state’s window tint laws. A government inspector or a private licensed professional can inspect your vehicle — most likely using a light transmission-measuring device called a photometer — to determine if your vehicle’s safety glass meets the “light transmittance” or “luminous reflectance” standards of your state’s window tint laws.
To learn where you can have your vehicle’s window tinting inspected, start by contacting your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) office (Get state-specific DMV information here). And remember, even if your vehicle’s safety glass is currently in compliance with your state’s window tint laws, that could change if you move to another state.
Unobstructed windshields — Display of American flag — Windshield wipers.
(1) A windshield in a fixed and upright position, that is equipped with safety glazing as required by federal safety-glazing material standards, is required on every motor vehicle which is operated on the public highways, roads, and streets, except on a motorcycle or implement of husbandry.
(2) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a public highway, road, or street with any sign, sunscreening material, product, or covering attached to, or located in or upon the windshield, except the following:
(a) A certificate or other paper required to be displayed by law;
(b) Sunscreening material along a strip at the top of the windshield, if the material is transparent and does not encroach upon the driver’s direct forward viewing area as defined in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards No. 205 as the AS/1 portion of the windshield.
(3) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle required to be registered in the Commonwealth, on a public highway, road, or street on which vehicle the sidewings and side windows on either side forward of or adjacent to the operator’s seat are composed of, covered by, or treated with any sunscreening material or other product or covering which has the effect of making the window
nontransparent or which would alter the window’s color, increase its reflectivity, or reduce its light transmittance, except as expressly permitted by this section.A sunscreening material may be applied to the windows if, when tested on one-eighth (1/8) inch clear glass, the material has a total solar reflectance ofvisible light of not more than twenty-five percent (25%) as measured on the nonfilm side and a light transmittance of at least thirty-five percent (35%) in the visible light range.
(4) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle required to be registered in the Commonwealth, on a public highway, road, or street on which vehicle any windows behind the driver are composed of, covered by, or treated with any sunscreening material, or other product or material which has the effect of making the window nontransparent or which would alter the window’s color, increase its reflectivity, or reduce its light transmittance, except as specified below:
(a) Sunscreen material consisting of film which, when tested on one-eighth (1/8) inch clear glass, has a total solar reflectance of visible light of not more than thirty-five percent (35%) as measured on the nonfilm side and
a light transmittance of at least eighteen percent (18%) in the visible light range; however, sunscreen material which, when tested on one-eighth (1/8) inch clear glass, has a total solar reflectance of visible light of not
more than thirty-five percent (35%) as measured on the nonfilm side and a light transmittance of at least eight percent (8%) in the visible light range may be used on multipurpose passenger vehicles;
(b) Perforated sunscreening material which, when tested in conjunction with existing glazing or film material, has a total reflectance of visible light of not more than thirty-five percent (35%) and a light transmittance of no
less than thirty percent (30%). For those products or materials having different levels of reflectance, the highest reflectance from the product or material will be measured by dividing the area into sixteen (16) equal
sections and averaging the overall reflectance. The measured reflectance of any of those sections may not exceed fifty percent (50%).
(5) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle required to be registered in the Commonwealth, upon a public highway, road, or street, on which vehicle the rear window is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material whichhas the effect of making the window nontransparent, unless the vehicle is equipped with side mirrors on both sides.
(6) Each installer or seller of sunscreening material shall provide a pressure-sensitive, self-destructive, nonremovable, vinyl-type film label to the purchaser stating that the material complies with the provisions of KRS
189.010(20) to (23) and subsections (1) to (5) of this section. Each installer shall affix the required label to the inside left door jamb of the motor vehicle. In addition, the label shall state the trade name of the material and the installer’s or seller’s business name. Labeling is not required for factory glazing which complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205.
(7) Every percentage measurement required by subsections (3) and (4) of this section is subject to a tolerance of plus or minus three percent (3%).
(8) A person shall not install window tinting materials on a vehicle that fails to meet the minimum standards for light transmission pursuant to subsections (3) and (4) of this section. Tinted material that fails to meet the minimum standards for light transmission pursuant to subsections (3) and (4) of this section shall be removed immediately.
(9) A person who applies sunscreening materials in violation of this section shall be guilty upon conviction of a Class B misdemeanor.
(10) Nothing in this section shall prevent the display of a representation of the American flag on the rear window of any motor vehicle, including any vehicle owned by a local or state government, provided that the representation does not exceed a size of five (5) inches by eight (8) inches and is placed in a lower corner of the rear window.
(11) The windshield on every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield. The device shall be so constructed as to be controlled by the operator of the vehicle.
(12) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the use of any window which is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material or component in a manner approved by federal statute or regulation if the window was a component part of a vehicle at the time of the vehicle manufacture, or the replacement of any window by a covering which meets these requirements.
American Auto Glass can help you with all of your tinting neds and questions. Give them a call or visit thier website.