Why Your Window Tint is Making you a Target for Police

Cruisin’ down the street in your ‘64? What the late great Easy E didn’t tell you is that the tinted windows on your car can make you a target for police to stop you every time you drive. While the ticket itself isn’t the primary problem – what can come next is.

Why does window tint make me a target?

In the modern era of policing, there are usually officers assigned to look for people who are committing moving and equipment violations on every shift. Cars with excessive window tint have become one of the top reasons for police to make stops, particularly in urban areas. While the stop is for the equipment violation, the goal is often to find evidence of more serious offenses, such as possession of drugs, concealed weapons, and drunk driving.

Once stopped, police will ask you questions, such as where you are going and what you are doing. From there, the officer may suspect drunk driving or possession of drugs, which will lead to a request to get out of the car. Many times, the situation results in your car being searched and/or you having to perform field sobriety tests, and in many cases, your arrest.

So, how do I know if I could be next?

In Wisconsin, window tint is controlled by statute. Front windows must let 50% of light through, while rear windows must let 35% of light through. The less light that is going through the window, the darker the tint is. There are two problems that we frequently see. 

  1. You wanted the tint to be like a limo. This is a problem because limousine tint is much darker than 50%/35%, and is illegal for a regular driver. It also stands out as a violation during the day, and even at night. Even though you didn’t know that the tint you put on was illegal, it will still subject you to the violation.
  2. You asked an installer for legal tint to be put on, but no one measured the factory tint. Most car manufacturers tint windows to some degree when the car is made. The problem comes up when you take your car to a window tint installer. They receive sheets of tint that are designated at 50%/35%, they pull that tint out, and they install it. The installer doesn’t check the existing tint, which means that you may end up with darker (illegal) tint.

In both of these situations, you could be pulled over for an officer to check the tint. 

There is an exception to these requirements that only applies to window tint that was installed in the factory by the car manufacturer. In that situation, even tint that is darker than what is called for by statute is not in violation of the law on window tint. However, not all officers are aware of this exception. If it applies to you, you should call the experienced attorneys at Mastantuono & Coffee to challenge this issue. 

My tint might be illegal – what should I do?

You should take your car to an installer who can check the tint level for you. If your tint is too dark, you could be in trouble. You could have it reinstalled so that the total tint is legal, but you may want to consider removing it all together to avoid issues in the future.

What’s the bottom line?

If you have tinted windows, know that you are putting yourself in legal jeopardy if it is too dark. If you end up being stopped and ticketed or charged with something more serious, you need the experienced attorneys at Mastantuono & Coffee, who know how to challenge this issue to get you the best possible outcome.


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