Made in the Shade: Pennsylvania’s Window Tinting Laws

MONROE COUNTY -- DJ Aponte tints vehicle windows for a living. While what he does is perfectly legal, once a vehicle with tinted windows hits the road in Pennsylvania, that's when things could get a little blurry. Some drivers could run into problems with the law.

"You give them the warning and they have their own choice. I am a business, and I give the customer whatever they want, but I do let them know what the law is and my opinion," said DJ Aponte of Xclusive Auto Sports.

According to PennDOT, tint is not allowed on the windshield of a vehicle except for the top four inches to shade the sun. The front side windows and backseat windows must allow for more than 70 percent of light to come in the vehicle. The rear window can be tinted. Vehicles exempt from this rule include emergency, government, or any vehicle with a valid certificate of exemption.

"If the officer cannot see clearly into the driver's compartment, the tint is too dark," said Pocono Township Police Chief Kent Werkheiser.

How can authorities determine when a tint is too dark? Chief Werkheiser tells Newswatch 16 some departments use a device called a tint meter. It can determine how much light is passing through car windows. Werkheiser said with tinted windows comes the issue of safety.

"When you can't see in there, you don't know what is going on and then you have to react, and it just causes tension and concern," he said.

While many vehicles now come with tinted back windows, the tint is federally regulated. It can still be a safety concern for police when they approach a vehicle. Authorities say a quick click of a button, could make the whole situation a bit easier on everyone.

"To ensure the safety of the officer and the safety of the motoring public, sometimes it's advisable for the motorist to lower the back windows, especially if they do have dark window tint. It just puts the officer at ease and somewhat deescalates the situation," said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner.

Wagner believes the time of day is also a big factor when it comes to stopping a driver with tinted windows.

"If we are pulling over a vehicle that has a light tint on it in a public area, it may not raise the officer's alert as much as it would being at 3 a.m. on a dark road and a very dark window tinting," said Wagner. "So there are going to be different tactics employed. What I do put out to the motoring public is that if you do have dark window tint, really be conscious on whether it is a violation or not."

Because Pennsylvania state inspection stations do not have to report or fail vehicles with tinted windows over the legal amount, the issue becomes even less clear for authorities.

Police say they will continue to tell drivers with tinted windows to know the law and obey it. Drivers found in violation could face fines up to $110.

9 comments

  • Canyon

    Try driving your car with tinted windows into Canada. Also, haven’t you ever been at an intersection facing a car with tinted windows and wished you could see the driver? The ability to drive safely on any road usually involves being able to determine the intentions of the other drivers and tinted windows can make that difficult.

  • Sam

    The police claim that they don’t like to pull vehicles over because they never know what to expect, well then why do they pull people over for something like a light is out.
    BTW in some Cases window tint is legal due to a medical excuse from an Optometrist.

  • TJ Lang

    What a Joke… in case your eyes aren’t open.. most of the police cruisers and state police also have tinted windows.. including cops personal Vechicles .. when I asked a local cop once how come it okay for him, he said the chief plays their Vechicle as an undercover Vechicle. What a JOKE.. seriously. If they can leaglly use every car they own as an undercover Vechicle and very cop in town has one tinted.. then why can’t we??? What a joke.. this world is made up of Hypocrites from top to bottom, and it’s sad..

    • G

      Now if you didn’t read, please do so now.
      Vehicles exempt from this rule include emergency, government, or any vehicle with a valid certificate of exemption.
      Emergency vehicles contain equipment and other tools with private information on them that must be hidden from the public eye. Just like when you work from home, the company comes in and finds the best place to set up the computer system away from windows and peeking eyes, this is a violation of privacy and there are other laws on that.

      Plus, who cares, you are not above the law and yes sometimes you can not have the same as everyone else.

  • Bill K.

    I don’t understand how anyone can drive a car with tinted windows at night. I tried it before and it’s like wearing sunglasses at night.

    • keith hinkel

      Oh yes it is a waste but they do write tickets–after all $$$ is $$$ to Pa state. No matter how Pa gets it.
      If tinted windows and stopped at night turn on inside lights–usually can see in car then

      • Henry the 1/8th

        Yes sir, just like their old friend Mary Jane, it’s a cash cow that keeps on giving fine revenue and funding throughout the justice industry.

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