As the summer reaches its peak, many drivers are utilizing any available means to stay cool and out of the sun. One of the most common efforts in doing so involves window tinting. Window tinting is utilized for various different reasons, for example: added privacy, prevent damage to the interior of the vehicle, or—as tinting film can reflect incoming light and therefore reduce the glare and heat inside the car—to keep cool. Although many Californians have their windows tinted, window tinting has always been heavily regulated by law enforcement and can be used a means for initiating a traffic stop. In fact, in 2015, the California Highway Patrol reported a total of nearly 2000,000 tickets issued to drivers for violating California window tint law between January 2015 and August 2017!
Vehicle Code §26708 generally prohibits drivers from placing any material that may reduce or obstruct their view through the windshield. (Ironically, it seems Californians are constantly encouraged to do the complete opposite. Parking permits are a great example. Whether instructed to be placed on the windshield or hung on the rear-view mirror, based on the language of the law, doing so could be construed as a violation.) Also, other regulations address the darkness and location of the tint. For example, despite there being no current limitations on the darkness of rear windows, the front side windows must allow more than 70% of light to pass through into the inside the car, and a car can only have non-reflective tint on the top four inches of the windshield.
Through the passage of AB 1303, California created a small but important exemption to the window shield tint and object placement prohibition; Californians who obtain a signed certificate by a dermatologist indicating the driver has a sensitivity to UV rayscan now tint their windshields. It is important to keep in mind, however, that those utilizing this exemption can still expect to have interactions with law enforcement stemming from their use of tint as officers can still use a perceived violation of the tinting laws as probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. …And once an officer has probable cause to pull you over, his observations while conducting that routine traffic stop are all fair game.
So if you are one of the drivers for whom window tint is medically recommended, by all means take advantage of the new exemption created by AB 1303. But remember, this could potentially result in an increased likelihood of interactions with law enforcement so make sure your other documentation such as license, insurance, and registration are all up to date!
Also of note, (1) a driver is required to have dual side mirrors if the rear window of the car is tinted, and (2) a driver cannot use red, amber or blue tint on any window.
For example if the driver has either Lupus or xeroderma pigmentosum
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