By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
This past week I was asked a question regarding tinted windows on motor vehicles. The person recently purchased a vehicle from out of state and found it would not pass the Massachusetts safety inspection, due to dark window tinting. This had to be removed before it was able to pass. I was asked to explain the rules on this tinting of windows.
The rules pertaining to this subject are contained in Mass General Laws chapter 90 Section 9D. It is a rather lengthy law with several exemptions. Basically, it applies to “after-market” applications of signs, posters, stickers, tinting, shades, louvers, or similar devices which are on “the front windshield, and the side windows immediately adjacent to the right and left of the operator’s seat.” Anything not installed at the factory, under the appropriate federal regulations, must comply with this law. As for window tinting, it is allowed on vehicles if it has “not more than thirty-five per cent…light transmittance.” The 35% tinting on windows is determined to be enough to reduce much of the solar glare. At the same, it enables clear vision from inside and outside of the passenger compartment. Inspection stations should be equipped with devices that can test window tinting to determine if it is legally permissible.
Numerous exemptions exist in the law which allow tinting, shades, or other materials. For example, a darker six-inch tint is allowed on the top of the front windshield if it does not impede with the driver’s clear vision. Vehicles registered out of state are exempt. If some shading is necessary for medical purposes, a licensed physician can authorize it and the Registry can approve of the placement of an appropriate device. Several other exemptions apply. I would refer you to review the law to determine if any apply to your circumstance. A first offense violation of this law is a civil infraction with a penalty of up to $250.
The main purpose of this law is to provide clear vision for drivers. Some tinting can be helpful in dealing with sunlight. Please review the law carefully before you add anything to the vehicle which may in some way impair your vision. Distractions should be limited as much as possible in order to reduce crashes and injuries.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St. Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.