Posted By Vinyl Frog On June 14, 2023

California Window Tint Laws - The Complete Guide

California Window Tint Laws

Window tinting has become increasingly popular among vehicle owners in recent years. In order to regulate this practice, every state has devised its own specific laws and California is no exception. If you reside in this state and want to darken your vehicle's windows, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of the California window tint laws that were enacted in 1999.

Window tints not only add a touch of style and sophistication to cars but also offer various practical benefits such as protection from harmful UV rays, heat reduction, and increased privacy. This comprehensive guide will provide you all the necessary information about the rules and regulations regarding the application of vehicle window tints in California.

We will explore the permissible limits, restrictions, and the potential consequences of non-compliance. By familiarizing yourself with these regulations, you can ensure that your window tint is in accordance with the law, avoiding any legal issues while enjoying the benefits it brings. Let's dive into the details of California tint laws so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to tinting your vehicle's windows.

What Are California Window Tint Laws?

The window tint laws in California are specific and regulate the darkness and reflectivity of the varying tints applied to a vehicle. Mentioned below are the rules for the different windows of a vehicle may it be a sedan, SUV or a van:

California Window Tint Laws

Front Windshield

The windshield is allowed to have a non-reflective tint on the top 4 inches only.

Front Side Windows

Front side windows must allow 88% of visible light transmission (VLT) or minimum 70% of light must pass through if combined with factory-tinted windows. 

70% VLT Heat Rejecting Window Tint Film
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Rear Side Windows And Rear Windshield

The back side windows and the rear windshield can have any darkness of tint.

Other Regulations Regarding Window Tints In California

  • The tint on both the front and back side windows must not be more reflective than a standard window.
  • It is mandatory to have dual side mirrors if the rear window is tinted
  • Red, amber, or blue tint colors are prohibited. 
  • It is necessary for the manufacturers to certify the film they sell in the state.

Medical Exemptions In California Tint Laws

Though the California window tint law does not permit application of low VLT sunscreen on the front windows of the vehicle, if the driver or a front-seat passenger has a certified medical or visual condition requiring shade from the sun, he is provided with exemption to this rule. The reason is not to restrict the driving privileges of a person if one has a medical condition that can be controlled with certain changes.

DOCTORS NOTE FOR WINDOW TINT

DOCTORS NOTE FOR WINDOW TINT

Sep 27, 2022 Vinyl Frog

To qualify for this exemption, the person must possess a letter or document signed by a licensed physician or optometrist, affirming the medical necessity for sun shading. It's important to note that these sun-screening devices can only be used when the specific occupant with a medical condition is present in the vehicle and cannot be utilized during darkness.

This means that the tint used should be a temporary shade that can be applied and removed as and when desired. This is because if the person is driving at night or when it’s dark and the tint is no longer required, they must be able to remove it. Also, if someone who does not have the medical condition is driving the car, they must be able to take the tint down.

California Window Tint Laws

California Window Tint Exemption Application

In California, individuals who have a documented medical condition that requires protection from the sun can obtain a signed letter or document from a licensed dermatologist, optometrist, physician, or surgeon. This letter serves as evidence of the medical condition and the necessity for window tint to shield them from sunlight. 

When applying for a window tint exemption, vehicle owners typically submit this letter or document along with their application to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Upon approval, they receive permission to use window tint or another approved device to comply with their specific medical needs while bypassing the standard window tint limits set by California state law.

It's important to note that the 2017 changes to the tint law in California introduced the provision for additional window tints if supported by a doctor's note, and this provision remains applicable as of 2023.

Window Film Certificate According To The California Tint Law

In California, drivers who have tinted windows on their vehicles are obligated to possess a signed certificate from either the tint film manufacturer or the company that installed the tint. This certificate should clearly state the Visible Light Transmission (VLT) percentage of the tint film and include the name and address of the tint film manufacturer. 

Prior to selling the tint in California, manufacturers must certify that the film meets the state's requirements. It is the responsibility of the driver to keep the certificate inside the vehicle. Additionally, tint film installation companies are required by the law of the state to provide the vehicle owner with a sticker or certificate that displays their name and address, and the VLT of the film installed.

California Window Tint Laws

Penalties For Non-Compliance Of California Window Tint Law

If a driver is found to be non-compliant with the tint law in California, the actions taken by a police officer can vary based on their discretion. Typically, for first-time offenders, officers issue a "fix-it ticket" which serves as a warning, explaining the non-compliance and requiring the driver to rectify the issue promptly. 

In case of a second violation, a fine of $25 may be imposed, along with an order to remove the window tint. If a driver is stopped for a third time for violating the tint law, they may be charged with an infraction and face a fine of $197. The specific actions and penalties for non-compliance with the tint law are subject to the discretion of the officer handling the situation.

How Can You Avoid Front Side Window Tint Tickets?

To avoid receiving a ticket for tinted front windows in California, vehicle owners in the state must ensure that the aftermarket film they have installed complies with California's regulations regarding window tint percentages. You cannot have any kind of stickers or other decorative material pasted on your front side windows as well. 

Window Tint Percentages

Window Tint Percentages

Sep 23, 2022 Vinyl Frog

The state mandates that the tint film installed on front side windows must allow more than 88% of light to pass through. If the aftermarket tint is combined with factory-tinted windows, it must have a minimum visible light transmission of 70%. Furthermore, if the tint is damaged or has bubbles, it must be removed immediately as this can obstruct the driver’s view. Adhering to these guidelines is essential to prevent any legal consequences related to front window tinting in California.

Why Do We Need These Laws?

The laws regulating window tint darkness have valid reasoning and research behind them, and they are present in all states across the US. One of the primary reasons for these laws is that dark tinted windows can obstruct the driver's field of vision. It is crucial for drivers to have a clear view of their surroundings while on the road, and dark tinted windows can hinder that visibility, especially in traffic.

California Window Tint Laws

This obstruction can significantly compromise the driver's ability to see, potentially leading to major accidents. The issue becomes particularly pronounced at night when the tinted windows prevent the passage of light from other vehicles' headlights and taillights, making them harder to perceive. Consequently, the risk of accidents increases.

Additionally, tinted windows hinder law enforcement officers from observing the interior of the vehicle during routine traffic stops or minor infractions. For safety reasons, officers need to be able to see inside the car during such encounters. Hence the law calls for a specific VLT percentage for window tints. 

Get Quality Vinyl Frog Window Tint Film

Vinyl Frog offers an extensive range of window tints for both headlights and vehicle windows. Their collection includes a diverse selection of options to suit various preferences and requirements. When it comes to headlight window tints, Vinyl Frog provides tints specifically designed to enhance the appearance of headlights while offering protection and customization options. Customers can choose from a variety of colors and finishes. The tints are self-adhesive, making them easy to install without the need for professional assistance.

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35% VLT Heat Rejecting Window Tint Film
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Vinyl Frog's window tints are made from durable and high-quality materials, ensuring their longevity and resistance to fading. Moreover, these tints offer UV protection, shielding the vehicle's interior from harmful rays and providing a more comfortable driving experience. Additionally, the window tints provide privacy by reducing visibility into the vehicle's interior and minimizing glare from sunlight, thereby enhancing overall visibility for the driver. The tints are available in 70%, 50%, 35%, 20% and 5% VLT. For more detailed information and product availability, it is recommended to visit Vinyl Frog's website or reach out to our customer support.

Frequently Asked Questions

California Window Tint Laws - Final Words

To comply with California's window tint laws, know the permissible limits, reflectivity, and color restrictions. Medical exemptions are possible. Obtain a window film certificate and be aware of penalties for non-compliance. Prioritize safety and consult the California Vehicle Code or DMV for more information.

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