Window Tint: How Dark Should I Tint My Windows? Let’s Find Out!

Installing window tints can be one of the best decisions you make. Other than increasing the aesthetics of your vehicles, they can go a long way into improving your privacy while driving. Even better, window tints help to regulate the internal heat of your car, which can easily help reduce the amount of energy you spend on cooling it during hot summer days.

Since tints also help to regulate the penetration of UV rays, they can help reduce the chances that you will develop skin cancer from excessive exposure. One aspect that can affect the effectiveness of your window tints is the level of darkness you choose to have them in. While you might want to choose excessively dark window tints, there are laws that you need to follow as well as considerations to make.

Read on to know how dark your window tints should be:

Why Regulate Window Tint Darkness

While you might want as much privacy as possible by using window tints, it might actually end up being a safety hazard. For instance, if your windows are too dark, it might be tough to see while driving. You might think that this might not apply for side and back windows, but it does. Installing window tints that are too dark introduces blind spots to your line of sight.

On the other hand, the law regulates window tints for security reasons. Take an example of a police officer approaching your vehicle. They might want to see the driver as well as examine whatever is inside the car. In a nutshell, the laws are concerned with the light transmittance and the luminous reflectance capabilities of your windows.

The Basics of Tint Laws

Different states have different tint laws. For instance, a state might allow drivers to have a rating of at least 70% VLT (visible light transmission), meaning that all vehicles should have at least 70% of visibility. In case the VLT is less than 70%, you are non-compliant with the law. However, some states might have more lax requirements than others, and it all trickles down to the weather conditions of the state.

For instance, in Alaska, where road visibility is quite poor, the VLT is quite high compared to Florida. For the former, the fact that there is enough sunlight to let light into your car reduces the danger of using dark window tints. Even in the states with great weather, however, there still has to be a minimum VLT percentage to allow police officers enough visibility into your vehicle, especially in the front seats.

The Law Also Varies With Window Location

You need to observe different window tint darkness levels depending on the location of the windows you are dealing with. For instance, California has strict limits on how dark a car’s tinted windows may be. Tint laws allow for front side windows to have a minimal VLT of 70%, meaning it will let through 70% of available light while only blocking 30%. The back windows in the vehicle, including back seat and rear windows, can have any darkness. Whereas in states like Arizona, the front side and rear side windows are allowed a minimum VLT of 25%, with the rear window being allowed a minimum of 10%.

When it comes to windshields, majority of the state laws require little to no window tint. Some laws also have provisions on the number of stickers and decals that can appear on a windshield as well as the specifics of where you place them. In regard to the color of the tint, most states are against mirrored material, one-way glass, or other opaque materials. This is because these items easily eliminate visibility.

Medical Necessity Exemptions

Tint laws have exemptions. This mostly applies to individuals who have certain medical conditions that can be exaggerated by too much exposure to sun rays. Different states include different diseases in their exemptions. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Melanoma
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Bloom syndrome
  • Lichen planusactinus
  • Actinic folliculitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Pellagra
  • Hydroa vacciniforme
  • Solar urticaria

If you are part of the exemption for these laws, you have to carry the right documentation every time you are using your car as proof. The documents should prove that you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is exacerbated by exposure to excessive sunlight. The diagnosis should be made by a licensed medical professional. The documents should also outline the specific UV exposure required to meet the medical condition requirements as well as the length of time you should limit your exposure to UV light.

You should also have documentation stating the specific vehicle the tint exemption is applied. If you are not certain of whether you meet the tint law requirements, you can always have your vehicle tested.

Tint Levels: Choosing the Right Window Tint Percentage

When choosing between window tint options, it is vital to understand the tint laws in your areas. This includes the different requirements for all windows. As long as the tint darkness you choose doesn’t cross the minimum requirement, you can choose to keep your windows as dark as possible.

There are four standard window tint percentage options, each can have a huge impact on your driving.

Fifty-Percent Tint

A 50% tint only blocks half of the available light from coming into the interior of your car. It is effective for blocking heat and ultraviolet radiation, while also reducing eye strain and glare for an overall safer driving experience.

Thirty-Five Tint

A vehicle with a 35% tint is the perfect choice for drivers in search of a stylish and sleek look. Despite a darker color, it is still very easy for drivers to see through.

Twenty-Percent Tint

A 20% tint is an excellent choice for drivers looking for privacy. You can see through windows with a 20% tint up close, but it’s difficult. Often it is enough to discourage potential criminals.

Five-Percent Tint

A 5% tint the darkest of window tints. It allows for 5% of available light and is illegal in most states, though commonly used on the back windows of limousines.

Tint Percentage Chart

Window Tint Percentage VLT Benefits Common Applications
5% (Limo Tint) 5% Maximum privacy, significant heat and UV ray reduction Limousines, VIP vehicles, privacy-focused individuals
20% (Dark Tint) 20% High privacy, good heat and UV ray reduction SUVs, trucks, personal vehicles seeking enhanced privacy
35% (Medium Tint) 35% Moderate privacy, balanced heat and UV ray reduction Sedans, family vehicles, daily drivers
50% (Light Tint) 50% Mild privacy, decent heat and UV ray reduction, enhanced aesthetics Newer cars, luxury vehicles, aesthetic-focused drivers
70% (Very Light Tint) 70% Minimal privacy, meets legal VLT requirements in most locations, reduces glare Front side windows, vehicles with legal VLT restrictions

Is Lighter Tint The Way To Go?

One of the primary purposes of window tint is to shield you from harmful UV rays and protect your eyes from sun glare, however, dark tinted windows may be unsafe in some situations. Before you install dark tint, consider why you might choose a lighter one.

Avoid Unwanted Attention

A dark window tint offers a level of protection and privacy, but sometimes it can do the opposite and attract more attention from onlookers. Your vehicle’s dark tint can draw the curiosity of bystanders and law enforcement, but also thieves in search of hidden valuables.

Increased Insurance Rates

As long as your window tinting complies with state regulations and laws it often leads to no increase in your insurance premium. However, if your tints are too dark, they can increase your rates, as the likelihood of an accident due to impaired vision also increases. The darker the tint, the more illegal it becomes, leading to higher insurance rates.

What Makes Ceramic Tints Effective Enough?

Ceramic tints are a great option as they contain non-conductive particles. This can be quite effective in regulating the level of heat in your vehicle, lowering your energy budget. Other than helping you block out harmful UV rays, the tint doesn’t fade away, unlike other sub-par tint options. Also, it doesn’t interfere with your car’s electronic signals.

The right window tint darkness level should improve your privacy, make it comfortable enough to drive in your car as well as protect you from the effects of UV rays. However, compliance with tint laws should be a priority when choosing one. Contact the American Wrap Company today for quality window tinting solutions or insights.

Tyler O'Hara