Being in the dark is no excuse for illegal tinting

I was pulled over and cited for my windows being too dark, I didn't tint them, and I was unaware that it was illegal. Do I have to get them re-tinted?

— Katie

Unfortunately, that old saying is true: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I come across a lot of drivers with illegal tint, and they bought the car that way from a car lot or private party. That's an issue between the buyer and seller regarding whether the lot or person sold a vehicle with illegal equipment and who has to pay to remedy it. But if you now own the vehicle, you're the one stuck with having to get it corrected.

Yes, you will have to get the windows re-tinted. If you have them returned to the way they were when the car was made, then there's nothing further you need to do. If you want them re-tinted at all, then find a reputable place to re-tint your windows.

Why do I stress reputable? Because the tint installer is required by law to give the tint buyer a certificate which lists four things:

  • The name and address of the person who installed the tint;
  • The light transmittance of the tinting material;
  • The light reflectance of the tinting material;
  • That the total light transmittance through each window with the tinting material applied is not less than 35 percent.

Once you have the tinting done and are given the certificate, then you must keep the certificate in the car to be presented to any police officer that inquires.

As a reminder, on a passenger car, all windows — front, side and rear — must comply with the tint requirement. On pickups, vans and SUVs only the driver's and front passenger's windows need to meet the requirement. Any windows behind the driver's seat on those vehicles can be tinted to whatever degree the owner wants without being illegal.

Having illegal window tint or illegally applying window tint can get you cited for a Class B traffic violation, which carries a fine of $260.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email

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