Can Tint be Removed From Car Windows?
Having vehicle windows that are tinted too dark will be a problem for drivers in New York this year.
Enforcing the state’s window tint law had long been the responsibility of police, and it usually wasn’t a high priority for officers. But a law change that took effect Jan. 1 will require motor vehicle shops that do inspections to check tint as part of the annual inspection, and those whose tint is excessive will not pass.
State law requires 70 percent of light to pass through windows. A meter is used to read the amount of light that passes through.
All side windows and the windshield are tested on cars. The front windows and windshield are tested on sport utility vehicles, trucks and vans, but back windows are not tested. There are also exceptions for two-door coupes, and rear windows are subject to inspection in some vehicles.
The tinted bar across the tops of windshields are also to be checked.
The goal is increased safety.
“Glass that is too dark inhibits other drivers from making necessary eye contact with a driver to understand their intent, ” the law’s memorandum states. “It also hampers law enforcement’s ability to observe if illegal activity is occurring within the vehicle and will curb unnecessary car stops by police to enforce current law.”
Dan Melucci, owner of auto accessory shop Infinite Mobility in Queensbury, which tints vehicle windows, said most people who have had after-market window tinting on the vehicle windows will likely fail the test. Vehicle windows typically allow 80 percent of the light through with standard manufacturer coatings, even when there does not appear to be a tint, so any added tint will likely make them too dark.
“As of right now, we don’t have a film that will pass inspection, ” he said.
As often happens, those who want to skirt the law are already finding ways.
Melucci said some people are having the tint film removed from their windows before inspection with the intent of having it put back on afterward. The law change is going to generate more business for those who put on and take off the tint, he said.
“I have four appointments Saturday to remove the film, ” Melucci said.
Police can still ticket those who have illegal tint if they come across it, however.
Chris McKinney, owner of McKinney’s Automotive Repair in Queensbury, said the window tint check process is simple and his shop hadn’t had anyone fail the tint test since the change took effect Jan. 1.
He said he had to buy the $200 meter to perform the tests, but they are simple to use and the process takes seconds.
“The meter is pretty self-explanatory, ” he said.
But he also said that car owners who have applied aftermarket window tinting will probably not pass inspection.
Once a vehicle fails, action has to be taken to correct the issue for which it failed. That will include removing the tint film that caused the failure, then going back for a re-inspection.
Melucci questioned why some but not all windows on SUVs and vans are being tested if the concern is safety.
“By the time the officer gets to the driver’s window, he has already passed several other windows that could be tinted, ” he said.
A trade group, Service Station & Repair Shop Operators of Upstate New York, opposed the change and advocated instead for increased police enforcement, penalties for violators and enforcement of the requirement that aftermarket installers not be allowed to install illegal tint.