The Law on Vehicle Window Tinting
Alot of window tinters will tell you they are unsure of the law when it comes to tinting front windows and will normally say its up to the customer what they choose to do with their car. Be warned: this is not the case. The law is pretty clear and we can be prosecuted for letting a vehicle leave its premises with front windows tinted. You can even have your vehicle served with a prohibition of use order. Another misconception is that a 30% tint is allowed on front windows. Unfortunately even these light tints now fall foul of the law.
The Regulation states 70% of visible light must pass through the driver's side windows (75% through the windscreen) including any other substrate fitted to the glass. Many people misunderstand the regulation and presume that 70% allows a 30% tint - It doesn't! Glass does not let in 100% of light. Clear glass only allows approximately 86% of light to pass & the slight tint of standard manufactured glass varies from the 70% maximum limit up to approx 80% of light passing through, thus any film being applied to these windows will drop the light transmissions to below the regulation limit.
If your front windows are tinted to any level you do risk being stopped by either Traffic Police or VOSA (Vehicle & Operator Services Agency) they have light meters to test the light that passes through your glass. If you have a subtle tint fitted then you should just be asked for it to be removed, if you have dark front door windows you could be told you can't drive your car any further and face a fine and points on your licence!
Insurance and Tinting
Window tinting is also classed as a vehicle modification so you should inform your vehicle insurer. Do be aware that if you have your front door windows tinted and you have an accident, it could possibly be a get out clause for your insurance company? More Details There is, however, a recognized difference between "light window tints" which may be considered safe for road use and "excessively dark window tints" which are not. There has also been a great deal of debate about the legitimacy of window tints that do not obscure the vision of the driver. A clear case has been argued that road-safe window tints do not actually conflict with existing regulations. The Department of Transport have argued however, that Section 32 was always intended to cover materials attached to the glass, despite the fact that no mention of this is made in the Regulation itself. The only solution remaining would be to amend the Legislation. Consequently and in order to clarify the solution the Government finally decided to up-date the Regulations to specifically include Tinted Films since, in the view of the Police and the Department of Transport, this is the only way in which the problems of excessive tints can be remedied. Unfortunately however, even tint films that maybe considered safe for road use will now be viewed as in conflict with the Regulations, enabling the Police and Vehicle Inspectorate to take action against vehicle owners. This has significant implications for the owners of vehicles that have window tints and also those that are responsible for installing or selling window tints.
Implications for the vehicle owner
A sympathetic Enforcement Policy has been agreed between the Department of Transport and The Glass and Glazing Federation to ensure that all vehicle owners that have had tints applied in the past may be dealt with fairly. This applies in particular where the infringement is with respect to tints that do not pose a significant threat to Road Safety, despite being in contravention with the regulations. In any event, the owner of the vehicle that has window tints applied forward of the B-Post is liable to be challenged by either a Police Officer or by an Inspector from the Department of Transport Vehicle Inspectorate, where their vehicle is noticed being driven on Public Roads. Where a vehicle is stopped and the window tints applied are such that the visible light transmission level, when measured using an appropriate device, falls to below prescribed levels, the following enforcement guidelines have been agreed with and recommended by the Government.
Above 30% Visible Light Transmission (Less Severe Window Tints)
The owner or driver of such a vehicle will be required to have the tinted film removed from the windows under the direction of either a Rectification Notice or a Delayed Prohibition Notice, A period of grace will apply for a limited number of days (normally ten) during which time the vehicle may be driven whilst the rectification work is to be completed. In either case, the vehicle will need to be inspected by either a Police Officer or Vehicle Inspectorate Officer to confirm that the glass has been restored to a compliant condition. Prosecution is unlikely in such circumstances provided the vehicle owner complies fully.
Below 30% Visible Light Transmission (Excessively dark Window Tints)
The owner or driver of such a vehicle may be issued with an Immediate Prohibition Notice and immediately prevented from driving the vehicle on public roads until the tints have been removed and either a Police Officer or Vehicle Inspectorate Officer confirms that the glass has been restored to a compliant condition. It is also possible, depending on the severity of the offence, that the owner may be prosecuted for driving a vehicle in a non-roadworthy or even a dangerous condition with the potential for Penalty Points and a Fine. Driving such a vehicle on public roads before the tints have been removed and before a Prohibition Notice has been lifted will be a serious offence and the owner or driver is likely to be prosecuted.
Clear Security Films
Clear Security Films that only marginally reduce Visible Light Transmission levels on windows forward of the B-Post may be considered to be compliant with the amended Regulations subject to the quality of the fitment being to a standard that does not result in the vision of the driver being obscured in any way. To be sure you need to test the VLT (Visible Light Transmission) of your existing glass by calling in for a free test.
Note: Tinted windows are not included in the MOT test (Yet), but the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) have started roadside checks to make sure tinted windows follow the Road Vehicle (Construction & Use) Regulations. This regulation, as detailed above, specifies the minimum levels of light that must pass through the windscreen and front side windows.