California Car Window Tint Laws (Updated)

Window tint laws vary from state to state, and even from window to window. If you plan on tinting your windows in California, you may be wondering what the car tint laws are?

Quick Answer

The car window tint laws in California are as follows: 

  • Front Windshield – No tint allowed except along the top four inches of the windshield
  • Back Side Windows and Back Windshield – Any darkness tint may be used as long as the car is equipped with dual outside mirrors
  • Front Side Windows – Must allow at least 88% light transmittance, or at least 70% if combined with factory tint.

We’ll walk you through each window of your car and let you know exactly how dark they can be in California.

Window Tinting in California – What Does the Law Say?

California window tint laws are a little hard to understand if reading from their legislative information. Here we’ll explain exactly what it means for each window.

Can Windows Be Tinted in California?

So, are windows even allowed to be tinted in California? The answer is yes, but there are certain percentages that you need to abide by to remain legal.

Front Windshield Cannot Be Tinted: The front windshield of your car must be transparent and cannot be tinted. The only exception is a strip along the top four inches of the windshield that can be tinted to help reduce the sun’s rays.

All Other Windows Can Be Tinted: The front side, rear side, and rear windshield are all allowed to be tinted. There are certain percentages that you’ll want to remember.

What Windows Can Be Tinted in California?

In California, every window except the front windshield can be tinted. Even the front windshield can be tinted under certain conditions. Reflective tint makes your windows appear mirrored or metallic. In California, the reflectivity must not be more reflective than a standard window. Unfortunately, Chapter 210 of the California Assembly Bill does not specify what this percentage is. Here’s what we know about tint percentages:

Front Windshield: The front windshield must remain clear and transparent. The exception is the top four inches of the windshield, which may be tinted. However, it cannot be tinted with red-, amber-, or blue-colored tint. This top strip helps block out ultraviolet rays from the sun, which protects your vulnerable eyes.

Back Windshield: If your car is equipped with an outside mirror on each side of the vehicle, the rear windshield can be any darkness of tint. The mirrors must allow the driver to see the view of the road through each mirror for a distance of at least 200 feet behind the vehicle.

Driver and Passenger Side Windows: The windows to the immediate right and left of the driver are allowed to be tinted. To remain legal, they must allow at least 88% light transmittance if it is aftermarket tint. If in combination with factory-tinted windows, the front side windows must allow at least 70% light transmission.

Rear Side Windows: The windows located behind the driver and passenger have the same tint laws as the rear windshield. As long as your car is equipped with an outside mirror on each side that gives you a 200 ft view of the road behind your vehicle, they can be tinted any darkness you wish.

Restricted Colors: According to Assembly Bill 1303 Chapter 210, California does not permit the colors red, blue, or amber to be used with window tint.

California Window Tint Law Medical Exemption

Like many states, California allows for medical exemptions to their window tint laws. If you, or someone who is a frequent passenger of your vehicle, has a medical condition that warrants darker tint than what is allowed by state law, you may be able to acquire a medical exemption certificate that will make it legal for you to have darker tint on your vehicle’s windows. Here’s what to know:

Signed by Licensed Physician: To obtain a medical exemption, you’ll need a letter that is signed by a licensed physician. The letter must state that the physician recommends the allowance of darker tint due to a medical condition.

Carry Certificate in Vehicle: If you are pulled over by law enforcement, it is important that you have the medical exemption letter or certificate with you at all times in the vehicle. You may be asked to present it to a police officer.

Cannot Drive at Night: If you tint your windows darker than what the state allows, the medical exemption law states that the vehicle cannot be legally operated in darkness. This implies that you cannot drive your car at night if you tint your windows darker than the state’s legal limits.

Frequently Asked Questions About California Car Window Tinting Laws

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about California Car Window Tinting Laws.

What does VLT mean according to California state law? California state law does not have a specific definition for VLT, which stands for visible light transmission. In general, it refers to the ratio of light allowed to pass through the tint to the amount of total light falling on the tint.

How much does car window tinting cost in California? Window tinting in California is a little on the pricey side compared to other states. The average cost to tint a four-door sedan is $295. This price will vary depending on where you live, but on average the price is between $270-$320.

How dark can your windows be in California? In California, the front windshield cannot be tinted except in a four-inch strip at the top of the window. The front side windows must allow at least 88% VLT or 70% if combined with manufacturer tint. The rear side and rear windshield can be any darkness.

Is reflective or colored tint legal in California? The front windshield and front side windows cannot be colored, but the rear side and rear windshield can. However, it cannot be red, amber, or blue tint. In terms of reflectivity, California law is a little vague, stating that the tint must not be more reflective than a standard window.

Can you get a ticket for tinted windows in California? If you are pulled over in California for your window tint and it turns out to be darker than what is allowed, you may receive a ticket. This can come in the form of a fine of $25. However, you can also get charged with an infraction, which can result in a fine of up to $197.

Wrap Up

Make sure to know your state’s tint laws so you can avoid unnecessary fines, expensive tint-removal costs, and the headache of getting pulled over by law enforcement.

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