At some point in our lives, we have encountered a car so interesting that it will make our heads turn. It may be because it is your favorite model, or it has some bizarre prints, or it's the weirdest looking vehicle you have ever seen. Either way, stylish cars are certainly fun to look at -- and the law agrees. As a car owner, you have every right to personalize your property with whatever feature or design you want. You can paint your cars every color in the rainbow, wrap your seats with fluffy fur, or tint your windows. But of course, the fun stops when you start risking your and other people's safety on the road.
That is why California imposed Vehicle Code VC 26708, which states that no object should be placed on the windshield, side mirror, or any part of the vehicle if it obstructs the view of the driver. Obviously, this is to prevent unwanted road accidents from happening due to poor visibility or vision of the driver.
With that said, window tinting is basically subjected to this vehicle code. Now, many will argue that window tints do not necessarily affect the visibility of the driver. To address this, let us first define what is “window tinting”. Window tinting basically refers to a sheet of transparent film that is applied on the windows, windshield, or side mirrors of the car. It can vary from thickness, hue, and material. Added privacy for people inside the car, protection from ultraviolet rays, and decreased glare from lights of oncoming traffic are a few benefits of window tinting.
The state has set the following criteria to help classify which tinting films are considered legal or not:
- For windshields, transparent film is the only type of tint that is permissible. There must be no opaque lettering printed on it and must only be placed on the upper 4” or 5” of the windshield.
- For front windows, at least 70% of light must be able to pass through. The state did not impose any limitations as to how dark they can be, for as long as the color of the tint is not blue, amber or red.
- For backside windows, the state did not impose any limitations as to how dark they can be, for as long as the color of the film is not any of the aforementioned hues.
- For rear windows, the state did not impose any limitations as to how dark they can be, for as long as the color of the film is not any of the aforementioned hues. If they are tinted, the dual side mirrors must be installed.
- The protective film, regardless of the place they are located in, should be 35% or less reflective.
This ordinance is not to prevent people from being creative. It is solely meant to safeguard all drivers -- including you.
Punishments for Violating California Vehicle Code VC 26708
Traffic officers and legal authorities are quite strict when it comes to windshield and front window tinting. If you are pulled over for violating the window tinting protocols of the state, then you will face the following legal consequences:
- Pay a fine of $250; or
- Be ruled guilty of an infraction, in which you will be mandated to pay $197.
You will also be ordered to remove the film if deemed unlawful by legal authorities. Additional penalties may be imposed on top of the aforementioned fines. For instance, if you are caught tampering your vehicle identification number (VIN), then you will be held accountable under California Penal Code PC 10802.
Legal Defenses From California Defense Lawyers
The punishments under VC 26708 may be light, but it is still better to be safe than sorry. There are a few ways in which you can be exempted or absolved from any legal consequences. For example, you may be allowed to go lower than the prescribed light transmission if you suffer from a certain medical condition, such as skin sensitivity. You may only drive during daylight, however, as the protective film may further decrease the visibility during the night.
Remember that police officers may still stop you for a suspected violation of the window tinting laws of the state. That is why the code also mandates drivers to carry important documents such as medical certificates and/or a paper from the processor of the product certifying that the tint is within the legal parameters.
If the situation goes out of hand and you are still given a ticket for your window tint, you are advised to seek assistance from defense attorneys here at the Law Office of Raoul Severo in California.
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