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Are your tinted windows legal? Here’s how to tell

Published August 5, 2013

Tinted windows look sharp and are a huge boon to privacy. But how much is too much? What are the regulations concerning tinting the windows of a vehicle?

As a general guide, the windshield and front windows can only be lightly tinted, but rear windows can be virtually blacked out. But we asked MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols for the more specific official rules.

Nichols said the federal government regulates window tint levels on new vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which requires windshields and certain other windows on passenger cars to allow a minimum of 70 per cent of light to pass through the glass.

Although there is no set numerical limit to how dark the windows can be tinted, sections 73 and 74 of the Highway Traffic Act require that the surface of the windshield or any window of the vehicle cannot be coated with any colour spray or other colour coating that obstructs the driver’s view of the roadway, or obscures the view from outside to the interior of the vehicle.

If a police officer feels it is too dark to clearly see the driver, they may issue a ticket.

The set fine is $110, but the Act allows for a maximum $500 fine for a window tinting violation. In 2011, there were more than 1,200 convictions for having the interior of a vehicle obscured by colour-coated windows.

Wheels columnist Eric Lai recently visited a vehicle auction where they had a police canine unit for sale. It had full dark tint in the rear to keep the dog cool, but no tint on front windows, so it was legal.

However, there was also an undercover police car, likely used for surveillance work, that had full dark tint on all front and rear windows, so you couldn’t see anyone inside.

Although police aren’t going to ticket themselves for over-tinted front windows, the new owner of that car is at risk of being cited.

Despite the fact that the police tinted it, the new owner is responsible for ensuring the vehicle is in compliance with the law, so a conviction would be possible.

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