California Tinted Windows: Is It Legal?

Window tints are popular with many drivers. But what is legal in California and what is not?

“The purpose of enacting window tint laws is basically to not drive at night with sunglasses on, which is basically what you are doing with 40% of your eyesight,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Pennings told his KTLA sister station FOX 5 Wednesday.

Pennings said the tinted windows contributed to the crash because the driver could not see out of the car.

“This is a safety issue and California legislators have decided to keep this law in our books,” Pennings added.

rear window

As long as the vehicle has two side mirrors, excluding the rear-view mirror, the driver can tint the rear window, Pennings said.

front window

Regarding the front window, California law stipulates that the driver must have 70% transparency.

What window tint shops may not tell customers is that window glass already contains nearly 30 percent tint when it leaves the factory, Pennings said. So in addition he adds 30% tint, which rogues the transparency of the light.


Drivers can tint their windshields under certain circumstances, but Pennings said there’s a formula to apply.

“Put the driver’s seat all the way back, out the back and bottom four inches, and measure 29 inches up. You can’t cross a horizontal plane,” Pennings says. “The rule of thumb that most people use is he’s 4 inches. Anything within 4 inches of the top of the windshield is usually safe.”

potential exception

A doctor’s certificate does not allow the driver to permanently tint the windshield. Drivers with a doctor’s note can wear temporary shades, but they must be easy to remove, Pennings said. The reason is that if you’re driving when it’s dark and you don’t need the shade, you should be able to remove the shade. In addition, if a person without a medical certificate drives the vehicle, it must be possible to unload the vehicle.

For example, a skin cancer patient can put a legal film on their front window for UV protection, but the film must have a transmittance of 88%. The film must be installed by an authorized dealer and the driver must have a certificate of authenticity.

What about California drivers on vacation? If a vehicle is legally registered in another state, the vehicle falls under that state’s mechanical guidelines, Pennings said.


In California, it is illegal to paint windows red, blue, or amber.


Violators of California’s window tint laws may be issued a correction ticket, but repeat offenders may be construed as failing to comply with the law and may become a misdemeanor. says Pennings.

“You could also be potentially liable if you were involved in a crash because your vehicle was illegally equipped,” Pennings said. California Tinted Windows: Is It Legal?

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