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Model Law

Suggested Model Legislation for Automotive Window Tinting

Model legislation that is applicable to each and every jurisdiction is not possible because most jurisdictions amend existing safety or glazing statutes to restrict window film. Generally, the law that sets the standard for window film also specifies the restriction for signs, decals, and stickers. 

Introduction & Issues 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 205 specifies the amount of tinting that is allowed in the new motor vehicles prior to the sale of the vehicle. Following the sale of the new vehicle, window tinting is regulated by the individual states. 

Federal Standard 205 is silent with respect to the windows to the rear of the driver and the front seat passengers on multi-purpose vehicles; therefore, the purchaser of a new vehicle may specify unlimited tinting on the vehicles. Individual jurisdictions usually also allow unlimited tinting on the rear of multi-purpose vehicles provided the vehicle is equipped with outside mirrors. 

Most (90%) of windows in new motor vehicles have some tinting. Once after market window film is applied, it is almost impossible and certainly not practical to measure the light transmittance of the glass and the film separately. Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that legislation specify the minimum total light transmittance of the factory glass and the after market film. 

Legislation should be written to allow practical enforcement. It should be a violation to operate a vehicle in violation of the statute and also to install film that reduces the light transmittance to a level not in compliance with the law. Portable, hand-held light meters are now available that are simple to operate, reasonably inexpensive and accurate within plus or minus 2% points. When laws are not enforced, dark film causes concern by law enforcement and encourages further abuse of the law. The window film industry strongly supports enforcement and will loan light meters to law enforcement for training and demonstration. 

Generally, convictions will be obtained with a 5% net light transmission tolerance, the practical limit of measurement with this issue. Variance levels in light meters and film manufacturers will not allow a tougher standard. Most important is that the 5% tolerance is not discernible by the human eye or of any safety consequence. 

Some jurisdictions attempt to regulate film by requiring the installer to place a decal or sticker between the film and the glass that certifies compliance and identifies the installer by name and address. This method has had limited success because of fraudulent stickers and film that is applied by non-professionals. 

State law regulations, in recent years, specify the minimum visible light transmission required by motor vehicle windows. Light meters are required to measure the light transmission. 

Generally, the legislation will delegate by statutes to the appropriate oversight agency the responsibility of establishing technical criteria and performance standards the manufacturers must incorporate in the meter.

The state oversight agency will also adopt uniform operating instructions. 

The International Window Film Association will provide recommended technical data, criteria, and testing standards for light meters. The Association will also recommend operating guidelines and instruction for usage of the meter upon request. 

The public installs film for various reasons, the dominant ones being comfort, health, and safety. Some prefer it for aesthetics. Window film, like many other products, is available in varying degrees of effectiveness. High performance films are available from almost all manufacturers, which reject 45-55% of the heat and 95-99% of the ultra-violet rays. The right of the public to use film should not be ignored. 

Understanding the issues, getting the facts, and looking for compromise, while maintaining and displaying respect for the positions of each party, are keys to good legislation that is acceptable to law enforcement, the public, and the industry.


As used in this section: 

Tinting film means any material or substance that is designed to be used in conjunction with motor vehicle safety glazing materials for reducing the effects of the sun. 

Reflectance means the ratio of the amount of total light that is reflected outward by the product or material to the amount of total light falling on the product or material. 

Non-reflective means a product or material designed to absorb light rather than to reflect it, not to exceed 20% luminous reflectance. 

Passenger car means a motor vehicle with motive power, except a multipurpose passenger vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer, designed for carrying ten people or less. 

Multipurpose passenger vehicle means a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed to carry ten people or less that is constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation. 

Truck means a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed primarily for the transportation of property or special purpose equipment. 

Bus means a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed for carrying more than ten people. 

Dealer means any person or business engaged in the distribution or installation of sun screening products or materials designed to be used in conjunction with vehicle glazing materials for the purpose of reducing the effects of the sun. 

Light meter means a high precision instrument designed to measure the percentage of light transmission through a semi-transparent glass such as a tinted automobile window. Manufacturers usually guarantee accuracy within +/- two percentage points; however, caution must be exercised.

Model Legislation 
__________________ (Jurisdiction) Acts of the Assembly Chapter _______________.

An Act to amend and reenact __________ (Code #) of the Code of _______________ relating to sun-shading and tinting films on motor vehicles. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of _______________ (Jurisdiction), that _______________ of the Code of _________________ (Jurisdiction) is amended and reenacted (or enacted) as follows. 

1. Except as otherwise provided in this article or permitted by federal law, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle that is registered or required to be registered in this State on any public highway, road, or street that has a tinting film on the windshield, the side windows adjacent to the right and left of the driver, the side windows to the rear of the driver, or rear windows that do not meet requirements of this section. 

2. Tinting film when used in conjunction with the windshield or any other glazing throughout the vehicle must be a non-reflective type and may not be red, yellow, or amber in color. Tinting film may not be used on the windshield except along the top of the windshield and may not extend downward beyond the AS1 line or more than five inches from the top of he windshield, whichever is closer to the top of the windshield. 

3. Tinting film, when used in conjunction with the safety glazing materials of the front side windows located at the immediate left and right of the driver, must have total light transmissions through both the window film and the glazing of not less than ______ percent. 

4. Window film, when used in conjunction with the safety glazing materials of the side windows behind the driver and the rearmost window, must have a total light transmission through both the film and glazing of not less than _____ percent. 

5. No tinting film may be applied or affixed to any window of a motor vehicle that has reflectance of light exceeding twenty percent (20%). 

6. If any tinting film is added to any windows behind the operator, one left and one right outside rear view mirror shall be required 

7. The requirements of this section shall not apply to windows behind the driver of trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, vans, and multipurpose passenger vehicles. 

8. No person or firm may apply or affix to the windows of any motor vehicle in this state tinting film that is not in compliance with requirements of this section. Additionally, the dealer shall affix a sticker between the film and the glass in the lower back corner of each glass that is visible from the outside of the vehicle, no larger than one (1) inch by two (2) inches which certifies compliance and identifies the installer by name and address.

Not withstanding the foregoing provisions, a motor vehicle operated by or regularly used to transport any person with a medical condition which renders them susceptible to harm or injury from exposure to sunlight or bright artificial light may be equipped, on all the windows except the windshield, with tinting films that reduce the transmissions of light in to the vehicle to levels not less than twenty-five percent. Such tinting film may be applied to the windshield of a motor vehicle provided the total light transmittance is not reduced to any level less than seventy percent, except for the upper five inches of such windshield or the AS-1 line, whichever is closer to the top of the windshield. Vehicles equipped with tinting films shall not be operated on any highway unless, while being so operated, the driver or an occupant of the vehicle has in his possession a certificate issued by the ______________________________. (Official responsible)

The _____________________________ (Official responsible) shall issue such certificate only upon receipt of signed statement from a licensed physician or licensed optometrist (i) identifying with reasonable specificity the person seeking the certificate and (ii) stating that, in the physician’s or optometrist’s professional opinion, the equipping of vehicle with tinting film is necessary to safeguard the health of the person seeking the certificate. Certificates issued by the _______________________ (Official responsible) under this section shall be valid so long as the condition requiring the use of the tinting films persists or until the vehicle is sold, whichever first occurs. In the discretion of the _________________ (Official responsible), one or more certificates may be issued to an individual or family.

Enforcement and regulatory (inspection) officials shall allow a tolerance of five percent when considering enforcement of punitive action.

“The State Department _________________________ shall determine the proper standards for equipment or devices used to measure light transmittance through the windows of motor vehicles as required by Section ________________________.”

Any persons or business violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may be fines.

The provisions of this section apply to all vehicles manufactured after the effective date of this act.


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