The New Guy by Chris Collier
by Chris Collier
January 11th, 2023

Illegal Tint: Let’s Talk it Out

Preferred Window Tinting in Lancaster, Calif., has been open for decades.

A Palmdale, Calif., Sheriff Station published a Facebook post about illegal window tint on December 31, 2022, saying, “… On Wednesday, December 28, 2022, deputies conducted an enforcement operation focused on vehicles with front windshield tint. Many of the vehicles stopped had window tint so dark that you could not see inside the vehicle. Within only 1.5 hours of the operation, 50 citations were issued for violations of the tinted window laws. Even if a tint company tells you it is legal, it is not …” An industry member since 1984, Todd Cohen, president of Preferred Window Tinting in Lancaster, Calif., says occurrences of windshield violations have increased.

“Auto dealers are calling me to take tint off, and I’m seeing constant dark and limo [tint] on windshields,” Cohen says. “They’re unsafe to drive [with] at night. It’s become such an issue that local law enforcement is cracking down. We’re not doing it—this windshield thing is out of control.”

Cohen adds, “I don’t want negative publicity for the window tinting business. We’ve already, over the years, had to get past window tint being purple and bubbly.”

Industry website Window Film Pros, founded by Patric Fransko, features a helpful window tint law directory listing laws pertinent to tinters in the United States and Canada. Linking to Tint Wiz, the following information can be found on California tint laws:

(California Window Tinting Laws)

— Darkest legal tint for Sedans in California
Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed on the top 4 inches of the windshield.
Front Side windows: Aftermarket film must allow more than 88% of light in, or minimum 70% VLT if combined with factory-tinted windows.
Back Side windows: Any darkness can be used.
Rear window: Any darkness can be used.

— Darkest legal tint for SUV and Vans in California
Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed on the top 4 inches of the windshield.
Front Side windows: Aftermarket film must allow more than 88% of light in, or minimum 70% VLT if combined with factory-tinted windows.
Back Side windows: Any darkness can be used.
Rear window: Any darkness can be used.

Both industry resources note the following: “The accuracy, completeness, adequacy or currency of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. We are not lawyers or a law firm and we do not provide legal advice. We recommend you consult a lawyer or other appropriate professional if you want legal advice.”

When Cohen deals with a customer insisting on an illegal window tint installation, he presents the facts.

“I say, ‘It’s completely unsafe to see out of at night,’” he adds. “I show them the posts from local law enforcement … I would say maybe it’s a two-a-month situation where I send somebody away. When busy, we’re doing an excess of 20 cars a day. Why would I, for less than a percent of my business, screw up the business? It’s not worth it to do something I know is unsafe.”

Please confirm local laws in your area before window tint installation.

How can we, as an industry, tackle the rise of illegal window tinting? Sound off in the comments below.

This blog is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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3 comments
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  1. If you put limo tint anywhere on a car, and not a windshield, you are a hypocrite. Most of these accidents are not head on. If your motto is stay safe, obey your laws!

  2. This is supposed to be the land of the free. 99% of my customers want darker film than is allowed on the front windows. Many bad accidents are the result of being blinded by the sun or oncoming headlights wich can make it hard to see the road sometimes. A little tint in the front is much safer, even at night, it reduces eye strain and it could save your life. Due to car jackings, dark tint in the front is now encouraged in Brazil. The real reason police do not like it is because they want to profile us. This is just one more example of our freedoms being taken away. What happened to safety first?

  3. I’m glad that this issue is finally being addressed. We’ve been tinting windows for 40 yrs. and have yet to tint one vehicle illegally. There is not one single day that goes by that we don’t lose at least one job because we won’t tint too dark. We have turned away over one million dollars of business but we are doing well without it. And we sleep well knowing that we’ve done nothing to contribute to any unsafe situations.

    Maybe there would be less demand for illegal tint if the auto manufacturers didn’t show all their vehicles in TV ads with blacked out glass all around. Law enforcement officers are being shot everyday. Illegal tint makes this easier.

    Windshield tinting could lead to legislation that will make all tint illegal and we will need to find another way to make a living. This is serious.

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