Is It Legal to Drive with Window Tints?

Many Kentucky and Ohio drivers want to install tints on their car, truck, or SUV windows. Some just like the look, while others want to reduce glare and increase sun protection and temperature control.

But are window tints legal?

Let’s talk about auto glass tints: what the law says, the rationale behind the laws, and how you can stay road-legal.

Keep reading to find out.

What Is Window Tinting?

Window tinting refers to any method that prevents certain levels of light from going through a vehicle’s glass.

Manufacturers of auto glass (like windshields, windows, side mirrors, etc.) actually already do some window tinting during the manufacturing process. They coat, or treat, the glass to keep out harmful UV rays. This tinting is completely legal and done in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.

However, it gets tricky if you want to put additional tinting or shading on your auto glass.

After-market window tints include sheets applied to the inside surface of the windows, shade bands applied at the top of the windshield, and plastic pull-down sunscreen devices attached with suction cups.

What Kentucky & Ohio Law Says about Window Tints

Kentucky Law

Kentucky prohibits the use of window tints that would make the window non-transparent, alter its color, increase its reflectiveness, or reduce its light transmittance beyond a certain point.

Window tinting on the front windows must have 35% visible light transmittance (VLT), and the back side and rear windows must have 18% VLT.

Also, for the windshield, sunscreening material is only allowed along a strip at the top of the windshield. The material must be transparent and must not obstruct the driver’s view.

Illegal window tinting in Kentucky is a misdemeanor.

Ohio Law

Like Kentucky, Ohio does not allow heavily tinted windows.

Ohio law requires 50 percent visible light transmission (VLT) on the two front windows and 70 percent VLT on the windshield. However, a vehicle’s backseat and rear windows can be darker.

Driving with window tints darker than this is against the law. Also, it is against the law for new and used motor vehicle dealers to sell a vehicle that has illegal tints. And finally, it is against the law for businesses to install illegal tints.

Breaking window tint laws comes is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $120 fine.

Why Window Tints Are Restricted

Window tints are restricted for both safety and security reasons.

It can be dangerous for a driver to not be able to see through their windows. This can cause accidents, injuries, and deaths. For this reason, heavily tinted windows are considered a safety hazard.

In addition, tinted windows can cause security issues. Tinted windows can make it difficult or impossible to see into the vehicle, which make them a problem for police officers and rescue personnel. For example, police officers aren’t able to see what the vehicle’s occupants are doing after pulling them over. Rescue personnel are unable to see where someone might be trapped in a vehicle to help.

For these reasons, Ohio law has restricted the use of window tints.

How to Stay Road Legal

When considering a window tint or sunscreen device for your car, it’s important to know the law and do your research.

Unfortunately, some car dealerships and auto body shops will install window tints that are too dark. (They may have you sign some sort of waiver/disclaimer acknowledging the tint is illegal.) That’s because enforcement of window tinting laws is patchy, and many drivers and installers get away with it.

However, we wouldn’t recommend knowingly installing an illegal window tint. Instead, look for an installer who will install a tint with a sticker identifying it as legal (required between the film and glass on every tinted window.)

Questions? Call Us!

Our local, family-owned and -operated business has been helping Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky homeowners with their commercial glass, auto glass, glass shower and window needs for more than 70 years. Contact us today at our Elsmere, Covington, or Dry Ridge locations.