What is the Legal Window Tint in California? Stay Compliant in 2023!

What is the Legal Window Tint in California? Stay Compliant in 2023!

Did you know that over 90% of cars on California roads have some form of window tint? This is because of the state’s strict tinting laws, which regulate the use of tinting film on car windows, including the front windshield. Did you know that not all tinting film complies with tinting laws? It’s a popular trend, but using illegal tinting film can result in a ticket and compromise your sun protection. Understanding the legal requirements for window tinting in your area is crucial to avoid fines and ensure your safety on the road. Whether you are looking to tint the windows of your car or need assistance with the installation process, it is important to follow the guidelines and regulations set forth by authorities. By obtaining the necessary ticket and adhering to the specified rules, you can enjoy the benefits of window tinting while staying within the bounds of the law.

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In California, the law allows for different levels of window tint depending on the type of vehicle and the area where it is located. Tinting film is commonly used to achieve the desired level of darkness. The front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to pass through, while the rear side windows and back windshield can have any darkness level. When it comes to tinting film, it’s important to be aware of tint laws. However, there are additional regulations for commercial vehicles and specific restrictions for reflective or metallic tints.

Window tint not only adds style to your vehicle but also affects visibility and safety. Window tint film can reduce glare from sunlight and protect against harmful UV rays, in accordance with window tint laws. However, window tint laws state that excessive darkness can hinder your ability to see clearly, especially at night or in adverse weather conditions.

Understanding the legal window tint in California is essential to stay compliant with the law while enjoying the benefits of tinted windows.

Understanding Window Film Certificates and Compliance

Window film certificates play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with the legal requirements for window tinting in California.It’s essential to understand the significance of these certificates and why they matter.

Role of Window Film Certificates in Compliance

Window film certificates serve as proof that a particular window film meets the necessary standards set by regulatory authorities, ensuring compliance with tint laws. These certificates are issued by recognized testing laboratories, indicating that the film has undergone rigorous testing and meets specific performance criteria.

By having a valid certificate, you can demonstrate that your vehicle or property’s window tinting adheres to the legal limits outlined by California law. This helps you avoid potential fines or penalties and ensures that your tinted windows comply with safety regulations.

Importance of Choosing Certified Window Films

Choosing certified window films is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, certified films guarantee their quality and performance. They have been tested under controlled conditions to ensure they provide effective heat reduction, UV protection, glare reduction, and privacy without compromising visibility.

Secondly, using uncertified window films may result in legal consequences if they exceed the allowable limits for light transmission or darkness specified by California law. Law enforcement officers can issue citations or require you to remove non-compliant tints from your vehicle or property.

Overview of Certification Process for Window Films in California

The certification process for window films involves various steps to ensure their compliance with legal requirements. Manufacturers submit their products to accredited testing laboratories where they undergo extensive evaluations.

These evaluations include tests for visible light transmission (VLT), which measures how much light passes through the film; total solar energy rejection (TSER), which determines how effectively it blocks heat; ultraviolet (UV) radiation rejection; and glare reduction properties.

If a window film successfully meets all the necessary criteria during testing, it receives a certification from an authorized laboratory recognized by the state of California. This certification is typically displayed on the film’s packaging or can be provided upon request.

It’s important to note that different types of window films may have varying certification standards based on their intended use. For example, automotive window films have specific requirements outlined by the California Vehicle Code, while architectural films adhere to separate regulations.

Tint Darkness Guidelines for Sedans in California

In California, there are specific darkness limits for the tint on various windows of sedans. These guidelines ensure that drivers have a clear view of the road while also allowing a certain level of privacy and protection from the sun’s rays. Understanding these darkness limits is crucial to avoid any legal issues related to window tinting.

Specific darkness limits for front side, rear side, and rear windows on sedans

There are different darkness limits for different windows. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Front Side Windows: The front side windows must allow more light to pass through compared to the rear side and rear windows. They should have at least 70% Visible Light Transmission (VLT) or higher. This means that at least 70% of visible light should be able to pass through the window.
  • Rear Side Windows: The darkness limit for rear side windows is more lenient than that of front side windows. Rear side windows can have any level of darkness as long as they have a minimum VLT of 70%.
  • Rear Window: The rear window can also have any level of darkness as long as it has a minimum VLT of 70%. However, it’s important to note that if the vehicle has outside mirrors on both sides, then there are no restrictions on how dark the tint can be.

Explanation of VLT (Visible Light Transmission) percentage requirements

Visible Light Transmission (VLT) refers to the amount of visible light that can pass through a window film. It is measured as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating lighter tints and lower percentages indicating darker tints.

The VLT percentage requirement set by law ensures that drivers have enough visibility while driving during daylight hours and at night. It helps maintain road safety by ensuring clear vision and preventing accidents caused by impaired visibility.

Mentioning the allowed VLT percentages for different windows on sedans

To comply with California’s regulations, it’s essential to know the allowed VLT percentages for each window on a sedan:

  • Front Side Windows: The front side windows must have a minimum VLT of 70% or higher. This means that at least 70% of visible light should be able to pass through these windows.
  • Rear Side Windows: Rear side windows can have any level of darkness as long as they have a minimum VLT of 70%.
  • Rear Window: The rear window can also have any level of darkness as long as it has a minimum VLT of 70%. However, if the vehicle has outside mirrors on both sides, there are no restrictions on how dark the tint can be.

By adhering to these guidelines, drivers can ensure that their sedan’s window tint is within legal limits and avoid potential fines or penalties.

Tint Darkness Guidelines for SUVs and Vans in California

In California, the tint darkness limits for SUVs and vans differ from those applicable to sedans. It’s essential to understand these specific guidelines to ensure compliance with the law.

Different darkness limits for SUVs and vans

SUVs and vans have different regulations compared to sedans. The main reason behind this distinction is that larger vehicles like SUVs and vans often have more windows, which can affect visibility on the road. Therefore, different rules are in place to strike a balance between privacy and safety.

Specific VLT percentage requirements

VLT (Visible Light Transmission) percentage determines how much light can pass through the window tint. For SUVs and vans in California, specific VLT percentage requirements exist for various windows:

  • Front Side Windows: The front side windows of an SUV or van must allow over 70% of light to pass through.
  • Rear Side Windows: The rear side windows of an SUV or van can have any level of darkness.
  • Rear Window: Similar to rear side windows, there are no specific limitations on the darkness of the rear window of an SUV or van.

It’s important to note that while there are no restrictions on the darkness levels for rear side windows and rear windows, it is still crucial to maintain proper visibility while driving.

Variations based on vehicle type

While the general guidelines mentioned above apply to most SUVs and vans in California, there may be variations based on certain factors such as vehicle type or model. Some manufacturers may provide optional factory-installed tinting that complies with legal standards. In such cases, it is essential to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications regarding tint darkness.

If you opt for aftermarket window tinting on your SUV or van, make sure it adheres to California’s legal requirements. Improperly installed or excessively dark tints can result in fines and may even pose safety risks.

To ensure compliance, it is advisable to consult with a professional tinting service that is well-versed in California’s regulations. They can guide you through the process and help you choose the appropriate tint darkness for your SUV or van.

State of California Information and Medical Exemptions

General Information about the State’s Stance on Medical Exemptions for Window Tinting

In the state of California, there are specific guidelines regarding window tint darkness that all vehicle owners must adhere to. However, there are exceptions to these rules for individuals with certain medical conditions. The state recognizes that some medical conditions may require individuals to have additional protection from sunlight or UV rays.

Mentioning the Conditions that May Qualify Individuals for a Medical Exemption

To qualify for a medical exemption in California, individuals must have a condition that meets specific criteria set by the state. Some of the medical conditions that may qualify for a window tint exemption include:

  • Lupus: This autoimmune disease can cause extreme sensitivity to sunlight, leading to rashes and other skin problems.
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum: A rare genetic disorder that makes it difficult for the body to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.
  • Photosensitivity: Individuals with photosensitivity experience an abnormal reaction to light, which can result in sunburns or other skin issues.
  • Albinism: People with albinism lack pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes, making them highly susceptible to sunburns and skin damage.

These are just a few examples of medical conditions that may qualify individuals for a window tint exemption in California. It’s important to note that each case is evaluated individually, and documentation from a healthcare professional is typically required as evidence of the condition.

Brief Overview of the Process Involved in Obtaining a Medical Exemption Certificate

If you believe you qualify for a medical exemption in California due to one of these conditions or another eligible medical reason, here’s an overview of the process involved in obtaining a medical exemption certificate:

  1. Consultation with Healthcare Professional: Schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional who can assess your condition and determine if a medical exemption is appropriate.
  2. Documentation: Your healthcare professional will provide documentation, such as a letter or certificate, detailing your medical condition and the need for window tinting.
  3. Application: Complete the Medical Exemption Application (Form REG 256A) available from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or your local DMV office.
  4. Submission: Submit the completed application along with the supporting documentation to your local DMV office.
  5. Review and Approval: The DMV will review your application and make a decision regarding whether to grant the medical exemption. If approved, you will receive a Medical Exemption Certificate.
  6. Installation of Window Tinting: Once you have obtained the Medical Exemption Certificate, you can proceed with having window tinting installed on your vehicle.

It’s crucial to follow all necessary steps and provide accurate information during this process to ensure a smooth approval for a medical exemption.

Process of Obtaining a Medical Exemption for Tinting

In California, individuals can obtain a medical exemption certificate that allows them to have window tinting on their vehicles beyond the legal limit. This exemption is granted to individuals with specific medical conditions that require protection from excessive sunlight or UV radiation. If you believe you qualify for a medical exemption, here is a step-by-step guide to acquiring one:

Step 1: Consultation with an Authorized Healthcare Provider

The first step in obtaining a medical exemption for tinting is to consult with an authorized healthcare provider. This could be your primary care physician, dermatologist, ophthalmologist, or another specialist who can evaluate your condition and determine if it meets the criteria for an exemption.

Step 2: Gather Required Documentation and Forms

Once your healthcare provider confirms that you meet the requirements for a medical exemption, you will need to gather the necessary documentation and forms. These may include:

  • Medical records: Provide any relevant medical records that support your need for window tinting due to a specific condition.
  • Written recommendation: Obtain a written recommendation from your healthcare provider explaining why window tinting is medically necessary.
  • Application form: Fill out the application form provided by the appropriate agency or authority responsible for granting exemptions.

Step 3: Submitting Your Application

Next, submit your completed application along with all the required documentation to the designated agency or authority responsible for granting exemptions in California. It’s essential to ensure that all information is accurate and complete before submission.

Step 4: Review and Approval Process

After submitting your application, it will undergo a review process by the relevant authorities. They will assess whether you meet the criteria outlined in California law for receiving a medical exemption certificate. The review process may involve verifying your medical records and consulting with specialists if necessary.

Step 5: Granting of Exemption Certificate

If your application is approved, you will receive a medical exemption certificate. This certificate will serve as proof that you are legally allowed to have window tinting on your vehicle beyond the standard limits set by California law. It is essential to keep this certificate in your vehicle at all times to avoid any potential legal issues.

Additional Considerations

  • Renewal: Medical exemption certificates typically have an expiration date. Make sure to note the expiration date and renew your certificate before it expires.
  • Compliance: While a medical exemption allows for darker window tinting, it is crucial to ensure that you still comply with other relevant laws and regulations regarding window tinting, such as visible light transmission requirements.

Acquiring a medical exemption for window tinting in California involves following specific steps and providing necessary documentation. Remember that each case is unique, and it’s crucial to consult with an authorized healthcare provider who can guide you through the process based on your specific medical condition.

Other Rules and Regulations for Window Tinting

There are additional rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. These guidelines cover various aspects such as reflectivity, color, stickers, and more. Let’s dive into the other important rules and regulations for window tinting in California.

Reflectivity Restrictions

California law specifies that window tints must not be too reflective. The use of highly reflective or mirrored tints is prohibited on both front side windows and the windshield. This restriction helps ensure that drivers have clear visibility and reduces the risk of accidents caused by glare.

Color Restrictions

In addition to reflectivity, there are also restrictions on the color of window tints in California. While you have some flexibility in choosing the shade of tint you prefer, certain colors are not allowed. It is important to note that red, amber, and blue tints are strictly prohibited on all vehicle windows.

Sticker Requirements

California law requires specific stickers or labels to be affixed to vehicles with tinted windows. These stickers indicate that the windows comply with state regulations regarding darkness levels. The placement of these stickers is crucial as they help law enforcement officers determine if a vehicle’s window tint is within legal limits.

Aftermarket Tints vs Factory-Installed Tints

It’s worth noting that there may be different regulations for aftermarket tints compared to factory-installed tints. While aftermarket tints can be applied after purchasing a vehicle, factory-installed tints come pre-installed by the manufacturer. In some cases, factory-installed tints may already comply with state laws; however, it’s essential to verify this information before assuming compliance.

Guidelines for Windshield Tinting

California has specific guidelines in place. The uppermost portion of your windshield (the strip above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line) must allow more than 70% of light through. This requirement ensures that drivers have a clear view of the road ahead, especially during nighttime or low-light conditions.

Additional Considerations

While the above regulations cover the basics, it’s important to consult the California Vehicle Code for comprehensive information on window tinting laws. It is advisable to seek professional assistance from reputable window tinting companies that are knowledgeable about state regulations. They can guide you in choosing the appropriate tint film and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

Updated Window Tint Laws in California (2023)

Congratulations! You are now well-informed about the updated window tint laws in California. By understanding the regulations and guidelines for tint darkness, as well as the process of obtaining a medical exemption, you can confidently navigate the world of window tinting. Remember, these laws are in place to protect you and ensure your safety on the road.

Now that you have all this valuable information at your fingertips, it’s time to take action! If you’re considering getting your windows tinted or need to update an existing tint, make sure to follow the guidelines we’ve discussed. It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional window tinting service that is knowledgeable about California laws and can help you choose the right shade for your vehicle.


Can I install window tints myself?

Yes, it is possible to install window tints yourself; however, it requires skill and knowledge to achieve optimal results. If you’re confident in your abilities and familiar with local regulations, you can give it a try. But keep in mind that professional installation ensures proper adherence to the law and guarantees high-quality workmanship.

Will window tints affect my visibility at night?

Window tints may slightly reduce visibility at night, especially if they are darker shades. However, high-quality tints should not significantly impair your ability to see clearly when driving after sunset. It’s essential to choose a shade that meets legal requirements while still providing adequate visibility both during the day and at night.

How long does it take for window tints to fully cure?

The curing time for window tints can vary depending on factors such as temperature and humidity levels. Generally, it takes around two weeks for the adhesive used in most films to fully dry and cure. During this period, avoid rolling down your windows or cleaning them with harsh chemicals to ensure proper adhesion and longevity of the tint.

Can I wash my windows after getting them tinted?

After getting your windows tinted, it’s best to wait at least a week before washing them. This allows the tint to fully cure and adhere to the glass properly. When cleaning your tinted windows, use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid using ammonia-based products or abrasive materials that could scratch or damage the tint.

What should I do if my window tints start bubbling or peeling?

If you notice bubbling or peeling on your window tints, it’s important to address the issue promptly. Contact the professional installer who applied the tint to discuss the problem and schedule an inspection. Depending on the cause and severity of the issue, they will advise you on whether repair or replacement is necessary. Acting quickly can help prevent further damage and ensure your window tints continue to look great for years to come.

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