Car Window Tinting Laws In California

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There is a wide range of security reasons which make it so that the authorities of California have to regulate the window tints of the cars and vehicles. While this is common in other states, it should be noted that California’s laws are very strict.

California window tint laws state that the car should have at least 88% light capable of passing through the windows regardless of its body type. This, however, is only for select windows and can be lowered down to 70% if you use factory-tinted windows.

I will now explain all the laws of tinting windows in California in depth and attempt to answer any questions you may have, so make sure you read the article.

How Much Tint Darkness Is Legal In California?

The threshold of the VLT required to pass through the windows is quite high in California.

VLT itself refers to the amount of light that can go through the car’s windows, so make sure to keep that in mind as I discuss the requirements of every car with tinted windows.

Tint Darkness Limit For SUVs And Vans

Sports Utility Vehicles and vans have almost, if not identical, VLT requirements for all of their windows. The windshield starts first and allows the usage of non-reflective tints so long as it is limited to the top 4 inches of the window.

The front side windows take the biggest hit and need 88 VLT. As mentioned above, this can be brought down to 70% if combined with factory tinted windows.

Things get much more relaxed when moving to the backside windows, which can have tints of any darkness. This trend continues with the rear windows, which follow the same rule.

Tint Darkness Limit For Sedans

While they may be quite different from sports utility vehicles and vans, sedans have the same rules apply to them, which I will further clarify here on a per-window basis.

1. Front Windshield

You can only apply tints to the first 4 inches of the windshield, which start from the top. This tint must be non-reflective.

2. Front Seat Side Windows

These windows have a minimum VLT requirement of 88%, which means you cannot go below this threshold. Unless you are using factory tinted windows, in this case you can reduce your threshold down to 70%.

3. Rear Window

There are no requirements for the rear windows to have a specific tint or be under a certain limit.

4. Back Seat Side Windows

Like the rear windows, the back seat side windows also do not require the owner to follow any limits to the VLT requirements, and any level of dark tint can be used.

Window Tint Reflection And Tint Colors

  • The state of California is extremely strict on the reflectiveness of the windows.
  • Your windows cannot be more reflective than an average window for all vehicles.
  • Side windows must be colorless.
  • Color windows are available, but the following colors are not allowed:
    – Red
    – Amber
    – Blue

Medical Exemption Of Window Tint Laws In California

As this has been the case with most states, if you suffer from a condition that makes it so that you cannot be in the sun for too long and need to have windows with much less VLT, you can apply for an exemption from these laws.

This starts by getting a letter from a registered dermatologist that states that you cannot be exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

One caveat for this is that the state will not allow you to drive this vehicle during the time of night. This makes the car virtually unusable at night, and you will probably have to drive another vehicle at night. You should try and keep the letter with you at all times.

Get A Certified Sticker From The Company

Some states do not require much from their people and the manufacturers and dealers that distribute the tints’ films.

However, California is one of those states which have made these dealers make sure that they follow the rules and regulations set by the state, which is why the state requires the manufacturers to certify that they are up to the standards of the state.

This certificate is then required to have the owner and must be on them, especially if the authorities stop them.

Following this set of rules, the state also requires a sticker that the company must install on the customer’s vehicle. This must provide the name and address of the manufacturing company.

Other Window Tint Law Rules And Regulations In California

I have discussed the main laws surrounding the tint windows in California. Here are the few laws which you should take care of as well.

  • If your rear windows are tinted, you must have dual side mirrors.
  • You must have a certificate that states that the tint film is up to the state standards.
  • You must also have a certification sticker from the manufacturer, which states their name and address.

These are the more obscure laws you should know about when driving a vehicle with tinted windows in California.

Cost Of Car Window Tint In California

In California, you can get window tint films for as low as $135, but they can easily reach up to $400 if you are looking for premium quality.

This is because there are many different factors that go into deciding the cores of the window tint films and how much you end up paying.

Regardless of this, if you are in the market for high-quality tint films, you should look for ones that are $350 and up, while anything below, is average to good quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is 15% Tint Legal In California?

For all vehicles, you can apply any tint you want on the backside windows and the rear windows, making 15% tints a legal tint so long as it is applied on those windows. If you apply it on any other window, it will be considered illegal.

Q2. Are 5% Tints Legal In California?

Just like the previous question, you can use 5% tints on all windows of the car except the windshield and the front side windows. All other vehicles are completely legal and will not get you in trouble.

Q3. Is Limo Tint Legal In California?

Limo tints are usually very dark and hence cannot be used on the front side windows and the windshield beyond the first 4 inches from the top, but for all the other windows, which include the rear windows and the back seat side windows, you can use limo tints.

Q4. Can I Get Pulled Over For Tint In California?

If you are using tints that are below 70% VLT for your front seat side windows or are simply breaking any of the other rules mentioned in this article, you, no doubt, can be pulled over for using the wrong tint in the state of California.

Q5. How Much Is A Tint Ticket In California?

The fine for a tint ticket is relatively small in California, with the cost generally being $25. However, if you get an infraction for this, you can be forced to pay up to $197, which is a huge leap from the base $25.

Luckily for the residents of California, there are no points assessed to a person’s driving record that is driving window tints that are darker than they should be and will not show up in their violations list.

So as long as there are no major infractions, you should only get the base fine of $25. Make sure to read the requirements in this article and follow them to avoid getting fined.

Conclusion

While very strict in their enforcement of window tint laws, California tint laws are fairly straightforward and offer enough wiggle room to provide some convenience to the people who want to use window tints.

While the tint VLT requirement is quite high, the base fine for it is very low, which balances each other out. This does not mean that you should disobey the law in any way.

Now that you have read this article, you should be familiar with all the laws which go into window tints in California and should be easily able to obey them.