Window Tint Laws in Maryland and D.C.

Window tints laws require a significant amount of light to be transmitted in car windows. Once pulled over, a police officer may check to see if your car’s window tints are legal or not. You may ask yourself how police officers can do that. In addition to knowing how to check for too much tint, you must know the window tint laws in both Maryland and D.C.

How do the police determine if a window has too much tint?

The only way to determine if there is an actual violation of the statute is for the officer, after stopping the vehicle, to conduct a test utilizing a “two-piece window tint meter.” This handheld tool can read whether a car’s window has too much tint based on state or local laws that regulate the level of visible light transmission (VLT) that is allowed through a car’s windows. 

If the VLT level is below the legal limit, the officer may issue a citation for a window tint violation.

What is the legal tint in Maryland?

In Maryland, legal tint varies by vehicle. All windows in passenger cars, convertibles, and station wagons are required to have at least 35% light transmittance. These cars are also not allowed to have red, yellow, amber, and reflective window tint under Maryland tint law.

Regarding multipurpose vehicles, limousines, vans, and class E trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, they are only required to have 35% light transmittance on their driver and right-front passenger doors with added tint. All other windows can have much darker tints. They can also have different colors, except for reflective tint. Window tint installed after purchase is not allowed on the windshield below the AS1 line or 5 inches from the top of the windshield.

In addition, all window tint film installed on a vehicle after its purchase must be registered in Maryland.

People who need tinted windows for medical reasons can get an exemption if they have a written certification from a licensed physician.



What are exceptions to the Maryland law?

Car owners with medical conditions that require them to be protected from the sun are exempted from tint restrictions. Once their vehicle is stopped by a police officer, the owner must show a written certification that explains the medical necessity of tinted windows for the owner. It must also be from a physician that is licensed to practice in Maryland.

What happens when I violate the Maryland tint law?

Window tint violations are on the list of Safety Equipment Repair Order (SERO) defects. An SERO may be issued by a Maryland State Police trooper or another law enforcement officer. It requires the owner to have the defect be repaired within 10 days. There must also be a repair certification that is to be submitted to the Maryland State Police Automotive Safety Enforcement Division (ASED) within 30 days.

How do I resolve a SERO?

To resolve a window tint SERO, have your car’s tint changed within ten days. They can be made at any garage or repair shop. You may also install the newly tinted windows yourself. Once the vehicle is repaired, you have to take the SERO to a Maryland State Police authorized inspection station to certify and inspect the windows. The registered inspection mechanic shall sign and stamp all SERO copies to confirm that the newly installed window tints are legal. Once the repair is certified and the SERO is signed and stamped, submit a copy of the SERO to the ASED within 30 days after the SERO was issued.

What is the legal tint in Washington, D.C.?

According to §50-2207.02, most vehicles except for minivans may not have a front windshield or side windows less than 70% light transmittance. Regarding rear windshield or side windows, they may not have less than 50% light transmittance. Front minivan windshields or side windows may not be less than 55% light transmittance. Rear minivan windshield or rear side windows may not have less than 35% light transmittance. The law also does not allow for motor vehicles upon the streets of D.C. with a front windshield with less than 70% light transmittance to be operated or parked on its streets.

What are the exceptions to the D.C. tint law?

Exceptions to the law include certain limousines, ambulances, buses, and hearses. Other exceptions include church-owned vehicles, all official government vehicles, vehicles with tinted windows manufacturer-installed prior to purchase. The Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles may exempt some vehicles driven by owners with medical conditions that require windows that allows for less light.

How much is a tint ticket in Maryland?

Any of these violations are subject to a $50 citation. Violators also have to go to an official District Inspection Station within 5 business days after or else they may be fined up to $1,000. Second-time violators will also have to go to an official District Inspection Station within 5 business days, but fines can increase up to $5,000.

Police officers are also allowed to have a motor vehicle removed from public streets to an official District Inspection Station if the window tint violations are a public health and safety risk.

What Is Virginia’s Tint Law?

Virginia’s tint law restricts the tint darkness on passenger vehicles and restricts the use of certain colors and reflective tinting based on the location of the window in the vehicle. Here are the details of Virginia’s tint law:

  • Windshield: Only non-reflective tint is allowed along the top of the windshield above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line.
  • Front Side Windows: Must allow at least 50% of light to pass through.
  • Back Side Windows: Must allow at least 35% of light to pass through.
  • Rear Window: Must allow at least 35% of light to pass through, unless the vehicle has outside mirrors on both sides, in which case any darkness can be used.
  • Side mirrors: Dual side mirrors are required if back window is tinted.

Note that these rules only apply to passenger vehicles and not to other types of vehicles such as trucks, buses, and trailers. Breaking Virginia’s tint law can result in a fine.. and having to remove the tint.

What Is Pennsylvania’s Tint Law?

Pennsylvania’s tint law allows for the following levels of tint:

  • Windshield: No tint allowed, except for medical exemptions with a doctor’s note.
  • Front side windows: Must allow at least 70% of light to pass through.
  • Rear side windows and back window: Any darkness of tint is allowed, as long as the vehicle has side mirrors that provide at least 200 feet of visibility.

Why Do We Have Tint Laws in the First Place?

The rationale for tint laws is primarily to promote public safety. Excessive tinting on vehicle windows can reduce visibility, making it more difficult for drivers to see and react to hazards on the road, causing car accidents.

The avoiding accident rationale makes sense but there is no studies we have seen that show tinting impairs disability that that impaired vision leads to car accidents. The stronger argument may that that tinted windows make it harder for law enforcement officers to see into a vehicle. This hampers the ability of police to enforce traffic laws or identify potential criminal activity.

Top 7 Reasons to Tint Your Windows

Here are the top seven reasons to consider tinting your car windows:

  1. UV Protection: Tinting your car windows significantly reduces exposure to harmful UV rays, protecting both drivers and passengers from potential health issues such as skin cancer, dehydration, and heatstroke.
  2. Interior Preservation: Window tints protect the car’s interior from the sun’s damaging effects, preventing leather upholstery from drying and cracking, and safeguarding the dashboard and electrical components from fading and damage.
  3. Reduced Glare: A good window tint minimizes dangerous glare from the sun, enhancing driver safety by improving visibility and reducing the risk of accidents caused by impaired vision.
  4. Shatter Protection: In the event of an accident, window tint can help hold shattered glass together, reducing the risk of injury from flying glass shards and ensuring greater safety for the vehicle’s occupants.
  5. Enhanced Privacy: Tinted windows provide increased privacy, making it harder for outsiders to see into the vehicle and offering an additional layer of security for any valuables inside.
  6. Increased Comfort: By blocking direct sunlight and UV rays, window tints help maintain a cooler and more comfortable interior climate within the vehicle, especially during hot days.
  7. Aesthetic Appeal: Could not leave this one out. Beyond the practical benefits, window tinting gives your vehicle a sleek, elegant, and classy appearance, enhancing its overall look and appeal.



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