Can Cops Pull You Over for Tinted Windows?

As any car enthusiast knows, tinted windows can be a great way to customize your vehicle and give it a unique look. However, the darkness of your window tinting may be illegal and result in a traffic stop in certain states.

Knowing your rights when it comes to tinted windows can help you avoid a potential legal complication and allow you to maintain your sense of style. In this article, we’ll discuss the legality of tinted windows and whether cops can pull you over for it.

Can Police Search Your Car for Tinted Windows?

Under most circumstances, police are not allowed to search your car for tinted windows unless they suspect they are illegally tinted. The officer may search the vehicle if the windows appear darker than legally allowed. For example, if the front windows are too dark for the police officer to see into the vehicle.

Tinting windows on a car is generally legal in most states, as long as the tint isn’t too dark and doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view. However, depending on the state laws, an excessively dark window may be grounds for a police officer to pull over and inspect the vehicle further.

When searching a car for tinted windows, most officers will use their discretion when deciding whether or not they believe any illegality has occurred. Suppose an officer believes that the darkness of your window is suspiciously high, meaning it exceeds whatever limits are outlined by law. In that case, they will likely ask you to submit your vehicle for inspection.

Reasons Why Police May Pull You Over for Tinted Windows

While darkly tinted windows may look cool, they can also get you in trouble with the law. Law enforcement officers are well within their rights to pull you over if your car’s windows are too darkly tinted. Besides, there are several reasons why they might do so. Here are the common reasons why police may pull you over for tinted windows:

1. Too Dark of a Tint

Having tinted windows on your car can be a great way to keep the sun out and the cool air in. But going too dark with your tint can lead to more than just an uncomfortable situation. In fact, it may result in a police stop.

The first thing drivers need to know is that all states have laws regulating how dark your windows can be legally tinted. Generally speaking, these laws vary from state to state – so make sure you know what’s legal in yours. Most states are within 30-35 percent of visible light transmission (VLT). It means at least 30-35 percent of light must be able to pass through the window for it to be legal. Anything darker than that may result in a ticket for exceeding the VLT limit or violating other window tint regulations like color or reflective properties.

2. Installation Issues

When it comes to window tinting, installation issues are a major reason police may pull you over. Many people want to add a bit of privacy and style to their vehicles. But window tint can also make drivers forget that the tint needs to be installed correctly to meet the legal limit. If you’re planning to tint your car’s windows, hire a professional for better output.

Car owners who have their windows tinted must ensure that it’s done professionally and correctly, following local laws and regulations. If not, they run the risk of getting pulled over by law enforcement which could lead to a hefty ticket or potential fine. Additionally, improperly installed tints can cause significant damage to your vehicle’s windows due to incorrect adhesion or bubbling from heat exposure.

3. Failure to Disclose Tinted Windows

Failure to disclose tinted windows is one of the main reasons why police officers may pull you over for this violation. Tinted windows require special consideration by drivers to stay compliant with state laws. The degree of darkness permitted varies according to each state’s law, making determining what acceptable and difficult for vehicle owners is.

Additionally, suppose a driver fails to adequately disclose the window tinting at the purchase or registration renewal time. In that case, they could end up with hefty fines and demerit points on their license due to being pulled over for illegal window tints.

4. Lack of Visibility

The reason why police may pull you over for having tinted windows is lack of visibility. When light is blocked from entering the car through the windows, it makes it harder for police officers to see inside and spot potential criminal activity or other risks. When deciding whether to pull someone over, police often rely on their ability to look inside cars. If your tinted windows are too dark, it may cause them concern and prompt them to take action against you.

Penalties for Having Tinted Windows

When driving a vehicle with tinted windows, drivers need to be aware of the potential penalties that could come with the action. Depending on where you live, and the type of tint you have applied to your windows, police may pull you over for having dark or reflective window tints.

The penalties regarding tinted windows aren’t that hard. But sometimes, involving police officers can issue a ticket or fine based on activity. Here are some common penalties for having tinted windows:

1. Possible Fines

The fee for tinted windows is between $25 and $200, depending on the state. Also, the severity of the fine can depend on the amount of tinting and whether you have permission from the state to have it. For example, in NY, the fine is up to $150.

2. Possible Vehicle Impoundment

In some states, law enforcement may choose to impound your vehicle if you have illegal tinting on your windows. For example, in California, the penalty for having tinted windows is typically a fine of up to $25. But police can impound your vehicle for repeat offenses. In this case, you will have to pay the towing and storage fees for the impoundment.

3. Possibility of Insurance Costs Increasing

If caught with illegally tinted windows, your insurance company may increase your premiums or even drop you from their coverage.

Prevention Steps

Before adding any type of window tint, purchasing a legal product that complies with local laws and regulations is essential. When purchasing legal tinted windows for your car, you should look for products that allow more light than regulations require. This will ensure that when police pull you over for questionable tints, they will not issue a penalty.

Many modern vehicles come with extra options when it comes to their factory-installed tinting. If your car doesn’t have this option or the tint that doesn’t let in enough light, find a different one.

Besides, you should find a reputable seller of tinted windows for purchasing your materials. You should ensure that the seller has the authorized license and provides quality products.

2. Disclose Tinted Windows to the DMV

The majority of states require that you disclose tinted glass to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when registering your car or truck. It will help to protect you from potential penalties if law enforcement officers pull over you for having tinted windows.

In addition, have a copy of the window tint certificate and manufacturer’s installation instructions in the vehicle at all times. This will ensure that the tint meets the legal standards where you live and can serve as proof in case of an inspection.

3. Know Your State’s Window Tint Laws

The laws governing window tint vary from state to state. The amount of light that passes through windows, known as VLT (Visible Light Transmission), determines the tint of darkness. For example, in most states, the back and rear windows must allow more than 24-32% light. For the front windows, it must allow more than 70%.

In many states, police can pull a driver over if they suspect the windows are too dark. They may also use a light meter to measure the light passing through the windows. If the windows are too dark, the driver can get a ticket. Moreover, he has to remove the tint or replace it with a lighter shade. Additionally, the driver may be subject to fines or other penalties.

In some states, the police may check the vehicle to verify that the window tint’s identifying number matches the vehicle. If the numbers do not match, the authority may impound the vehicle until the owner can prove that the window tint is legal.

It is crucial for drivers to be aware of the window tint laws in their state before purchasing or installing tints on their vehicles. Doing so can help to avoid costly tickets or other penalties.


Tinted windows are an attractive and practical option for many drivers. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of laws regulating tinted windows. In general, if you choose to tint your windows, ensure that it is within legal limits. Before you buy any window tinting products, do some research on your local and state regulations so that you can avoid any infractions. Additionally, be sure to use a reputable installer who is familiar with the rules and regulations in your area.