With a recent crackdown on window tint violations reported in Fresno’s neighboring city, Clovis, it’s a good idea to be familiar with California’s window tint laws to ensure that you are within your rights.
California Car Window Tint Laws
California’s full laws regarding window tints and other coverings are outlined in V C Section 26708, Material Obstructing or Reducing Driver’s View and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205 (49 C.F.R. 571.205) (pdf). However, we will outline and explain the most important facets of these regulations in relation to specific windows on your car:
Front Windshield Tint Laws
A transparent material may be installed to the topmost portion of the windshield so long as the bottom edge of the material is at least 29 inches above the driver’s seat when in its rearmost and lowermost position. For most cars, this will be around the top 4 inches of the windshield, however you should ensure that this is the case before installing any tint. This material may not be red or amber in color, and cannot contain opaque (non-transparent) lettering, or lettering that may distort vision through the windshield. In addition, the material must be non-reflective- it cannot reflect sunlight or headlight glare into the eyes of occupants of oncoming or following vehicles any more than the bare window would.
In addition, signs, stickers, or other materials may only be displayed in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side, furthest from the driver, and/or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield closest to the driver.
Front Side Windows Tint Laws
Clear, colorless, and transparent material (not tinted material) may be installed, affixed, or applied to the front side windows, located to the immediate left and right of the front seat so long as the covering is designed and manufactured to enhance the ability of the existing glass to block UVA rays, the covering does not reflect more light than the bare window. The material has a minimum visible light transmittance of 88 percent (which for reference is the visible light transmittance of standard car windows). In addition, you must have on your possession or in the vehicle a certificate signed by the installing company certifying that the windows with the material installed meet the requirements of this subdivision and the certificate identifies the installing company and the material’s manufacturer by full name and street address, or, if the material was installed by the vehicle owner, a certificate signed by the material’s manufacturer certifying that the windows with the material installed according to manufacturer’s instructions meet the requirements of this subdivision and the certificate identifies the material’s manufacturer by full name and street address. Also, if this material tears or bubbles, or is otherwise worn to prohibit clear vision, it must be removed or replaced.
No stickers or other decorations may be placed on the front side windows.
Rear Side Windows & Rear Windshield Tint Laws
As long as your car has outside mirrors on both sides that provide 200 feet of visibility, you may install or apply any darkness of tint to your rear side windows and rear windshield provided that the coating is no more reflective than bare glass (no mirrored tint), and that the tint is not colored (i.e; red, amber, or blue tint).
Medical Exemptions to California’s Window Tint Laws
Certain states may still allow tinting on a vehicle’s windshield or front passenger window, provided there is a medical necessity for the tint. California, however, is not one of those states, and does not allow for medical exemptions to the state’s window tint laws. However, a sun-screening device may be installed on the side windows on either side of the vehicle’s front seat, if the driver or a passenger in the front seat has in his or her possession a letter or other document signed by a licensed physician and surgeon certifying that the person must be shaded from the sun due to a medical condition, or has in his or her possession a letter or other document signed by a licensed optometrist certifying that the person must be shaded from the sun due to a visual condition. However, this sun-screening device may ONLY be used when that particular occupant is in the car, and cannot be used during darkness.
Charles Magill’s relentless and creative style of legal service has resulted in more than 150 jury and court trial victories. Because of his uncanny ability to explain complex legal cases with unmistakable clarity, many news organizations, including FOX, ABC, CBS, NPR, NBC, The Wall Street Journal and The Fresno Bee, have sought his concise legal insight in interviews. He is an active member in the local Fresno Community and a member of the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce. He and his firm have received multiple awards of recognition, many of which are a direct result of client nomination.