Darkened car windows are asking for a citation

What's with all the vehicles with blacked-out tinted windows lately? ORS 815.221 and 815.222 make it a Class B traffic violation to drive a vehicle with, or to apply, black or overly dark window tinting except behind the driver. It seems like every new ego-mobile I see on the road lately is totally blacked out.

I know it's not a factory option, and I wouldn't think that any reputable dealer would be applying this stuff, so what's the deal?

— Frank, via email

We too have seen plenty of opaque auto glass and rear windows that make pianos comparatively transparent, but isn't "What's the deal?" a rather open-ended question to ask the police?

Regardless, that's what we did. We reached out to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau to, ahem, shed some light on your query, and he pointed us to the same two Oregon statutes you mentioned.

Budreau informed us that ORS 815.221 covers tinting, authorized and prohibited materials and certification, while 815.222 covers penalties. Budreau admitted that the particulars of 815.221 was rather lengthy, but most of the statute can be distilled to say tinting can be applied to side or rear windows if it has a light transmittance of 35 percent or more.

Budreau said officers are issued special cards they can place behind the glass during traffic stops.

"If we can't read the card, that's probable cause that it's too dark," he said.

He added that there's a light meter at the station to definitively determine whether the vehicle is out of compliance, and that the statute requires aftermarket shops to provide drivers a certificate of compliance.

"If they do illegal tint, they will tell you up front they will not be providing a certificate of compliance," Budreau said.

Shops that perform an illegal installation face citations, same as dark-windowed vehicle drivers.

"The law applies to both the person installing and the person driving the vehicle," he said. "Anybody who does illegal tint opens themselves up to a citation."

As a class B traffic violation, those drivers face a $260 fine, Budreau said. He explained that the citation is a fix-it ticket.

Budreau explained that although it may seem like those drivers are getting by unnoticed, they're on the police's radar.

"It's a matter of time before they're going to get stopped," he said. "Typically no one wants to be driving around with probable cause to be stopped at any time."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story