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Know your window-tint laws
Drive like a celebrity, or stay cool ... legally

photo

Tint meter used by law enforcement to check the percentage of light that the window tint allows through.

In Arizona, some drivers wouldn’t dream of going without a dark tint on their windows. Of course, that’s not because they’re famous and don’t want to be seen, but because it’s so warm here, especially in the Phoenix area.

You shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that our state has some of the least-restrictive window-tinting regulations around.

Here are the basics:

• You can tint your sedan or SUV’s back passenger windows and rear window as dark as you like, provided you have a passenger side mirror.

• The driver’s side and front passenger’s side must allow more than 33 percent of light to enter.

• The side windows (front and back) must not be more than 35 percent reflective.

• Non-reflective tint is allowed on the windshield as long as it is above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line, or roughly in the top two or three inches of the glass.

• If you have a medical reason, you can be exempted from these rules by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Go to azdot.gov for details on how to file for an exemption.

• You may not use a red or amber tint on any window.

“Window tint violations are a primary equipment violation,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Kameron Lee, meaning that police can stop a car they believe has windows tinted too dark.

Troopers are issued “tint meters” to measure the darkness of the windows, and citations can be issued at the trooper’s discretion, Lee said. He’s heard a variety of excuses from drivers with windows too dark.

“Some people say they didn’t know it was a law or the place that tinted it said it was legal,” Lee said. “Some purchased the car with tint already on it.”

That happens from time to time said, Jake Morris, owner of Prescott’s Premiere Glass Tinting.

“We repair a lot of that stuff,” he said. “Most dealerships won’t do anything darker than legal … but it’s people who buy a used car from someone (who installed) darker-than-legal tint. You don’t know that it’s illegal, so you get pulled over.”

Morris said the technology has changed over the last five to ten years, and now there are tint films available that can keep your car even cooler without worry of being too dark.

“You can get up to an 80 percent infrared heat protection,” he said. “What unique about the ceramic film is that it targets the infrared part of the light spectrum.

“You don’t have to go with dark films anymore – you can go with lighter films that (stop) just as much heat, if not more.”

“The tint level is very easy to see if it is too dark or not for any officer patrolling,” Lee said. “Troopers will make their own judgments on how dark they feel it needs to be prior to stopping the vehicle. They will then verify with their meters.”

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