California Window Tint Laws, Exceptions & Penalties

In Brief: California Window Tint Laws

In California, for sedans, SUVs, and vans, on the windshield, non-reflective tint is allowed on the top four (04) inches from the top of the windshield. The front side windows must have a minimum 88% (aftermarket tint) or minimum 70% tint darkness (if used in combination). The backside and rear side windows may have any darkness. For more information, please check out the article below.

Protection from sunlight while driving can be obtained by window tinting.

Tinting on your car windows reduces the intensity of sunlight and other lights entering your car, protecting you from the negative effects of sun rays.

The tint also reduces visibility from outsiders, which leads to limitations on its usage.

The motor window tinting laws were enacted in California in 1999. The California State Legislature must be referred to understand the regulation of these laws.

In this article, we offer the latest window tint laws for cars in California (CA), USA.

This article is based on the latest guidelines and matches the policies at the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the International Window Film Association in March 2020.

California Window Tinting Laws

Window tinting or glazing provides sun defense for all kinds of cars. They are also used for protection due to medical conditions, and privacy.

The Visible Light Transmission (VLT) is the amount of tint darkness the car windows can have, measured in percentage.

It is defined as the percentage of light that a tint film can allow to go through your car windows.

A higher VLT allows more light to pass through the window, while a lower VLT allows a lesser amount of light.

The percentage of light allowed by law through your window in California is determined by the type of the vehicle, be it a sedan, SUV, or a van.

Tint Darkness for Sedans

The following are the tint darkness laws for sedans in California.

  • Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed on the top four (04) inches of the windshield.
  • Front Side Windows: The aftermarket film must allow minimum 88% of light in, or minimum 70% VLT if combined with factory-tinted windows.
  • Rear Windows: Any tint darkness can be used for these windows.
  • Back Side Windows: Any tint darkness can be used for these windows.

Tint Darkness for SUVs and vans

The following are the tint darkness laws for SUVs and vans in California.

  • Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed on the top four (04) inches of the windshield.
  • Front Side Windows: The aftermarket film must allow minimum 88% of light in, or minimum 70% VLT if combined with factory-tinted windows.
  • Rear Windows: Any tint darkness can be used for these windows.
  • Back Side Windows: Any tint darkness can be used for these windows.

Windows Tint Reflection Laws in California

A reflective tint customization on your window reflects back the environmental light on the window of your vehicle, reducing the glare and heat inside.

Some states may permit a certain level of reflective window tint.

Tint Reflections for Sedans

Here are the tint reflection laws for sedans in California.

Front Side Windows: The window must not be more reflective than a standard window or windshield.

Back Side Windows: The window must not be more reflective than a standard window or windshield.

Tint Reflections for SUVs and vans

Here are the tint reflection laws for SUVs and vans in California.

Front Side Windows: The window must not be more reflective than a standard window or windshield.

Back Side Windows: The window must not be more reflective than a standard window or windshield.

Other Window Tint Rules in California

Please go through the additional laws in California for passenger vehicles and MPVs about the manufacturer’s certificate, labels to identify legal exceptions, medical exemptions, and so on.

  • Side mirrors: Dual left and right side mirrors are required if the rear side windows are tinted.
  • Certificates: Certification of the tinted film by manufacturers is required in California. Please contact the manufacturer of the window tints to confirm their certification. The certificate must be present in the vehicle at all times.
  • Stickers: In California, a sticker to identify the certified tinting manufacturer with their name and address is required.
  • Medical Exceptions: California provides medical exemptions for special tints. Please see Exceptions to Window Tinting Laws.

Color Rules Related to Window Tints in California

Your window tints can also be personalized with a colored tint. Some states may not allow all or some tint colors.

The state of California restricts the colors RED, BLUE, and AMBER as tints. Other colors are allowed. However, the side windows must be colorless.

Exceptions to Window Tinting Laws in California

If you have a medical condition that makes you sensitive to sunlight, you can apply for an exemption in many states of US and use a special tint instead of the one allowed by law.

The condition must require the driver or passenger to be shielded from the sun’s direct rays while driving.

In California, a licensed physician, surgeon, dermatologist, or optometrist can issue a signed letter or document stating the driver or front-seat passenger needs to be shielded from the sun due to a medical condition.

The letter must be present in the vehicle at all times.

The only clear, colorless, and transparent film may be applied on the window. Any such materials or devices must not be used during the night. These materials should be removable.

Penalty for Breaking California Window Tinting Laws

Failure to comply with the above laws will result in the person charged with an initial fine of $25 and an order to remove the tinting, and the second time will lead to an infraction charge with a fine of $197.

Summary

This article gives you the guidelines referenced from state law enforcement for window tints in the state of California, USA.

If you would like to provide comments or have any questions, please post them down below or email us.

While we keep our articles updated as per any revisions, we encourage you to contact your state department of public safety or the Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.

Check other State’s window tint laws here>

A pet lover to the core, Jason lives with three dogs and two cats. He is very particular about the products he buys for his pets and uses rigorous research before zeroing on something.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ReviewsWorthy!
Logo