Tinted windows do add to the aesthetics of your car, but having a good view of your surroundings is essential for everyone’s safety on the roads. Recently, Ontario has imposed new limits for window tinting, on vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2017.
Any vehicles built after January 1, 2017 cannot have window tinting on their windshield. The front door windows cannot be tinted more than 30% darkness. There are no new regulations for the rear windows.
Why limit window tinting?
Window tinting laws are partly for the driver’s safety, pedestrians’ safety, and so police can clearly see drivers. Windshields are built so they will shatter into smaller, less dangerous pieces in the event of a crash. However, if a window tint is applied with a film, this can cause the windshield to break into large chunks which can increase injuries during an accident. In addition, police officers, other drivers, and pedestrians must be able to clearly see you while on the road. For the police, it is important for them to be able to make sure that drivers are not texting or performing any other distracting or dangerous tasks while driving. Pedestrians and other drivers also need to be able to see you, so it is clear that you can see and acknowledge them.
Ontario Window Tinting Law
Keep in mind, there is a difference between the law and the extent of which the law is enforced. According to the H.T.A. any tinting on the windshield or driver side and passenger side windows are considered illegal. This means the rearview windows and back seat windows can be as dark as you want.
Section 73 states in S 73(3): “No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle on which the surface of the windshield or any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat has been coated with any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle.”
If a police officer feels it is too dark to clearly see the driver, they may issue a ticket. The set fine is $110, but the Act allows for a maximum $500 fine for a window tinting violation.
Recommended Tint Darkness
From corresponding with police officers, most follow a very standard general rule of thumb: they want to be able to see your face if they look at you across the street. If they cannot see you through the driver or passenger side window, then it is somewhat likely that you stand a chance of being pulled over to be warned or ticketed. However, any windshield tinting at all is much more likely to get you a ticket.
Since the windshield is the largest piece of glass on the vehicle, it also lets in the most light. If the windshield is tinted, it will not only be extremely obvious that tints were applied, but the car interior will also have significantly less light. Less light in the cabin means that police officers will have even more trouble seeing your face if your side windows are tinted as well.
Most cars we see are tinted to 35% darkness. This means that of all the light that would have come through, only 35% makes it past the tint. This is just enough darkness to make the heat of the sun manageable and light enough that driving in the dark is still safe. Unfortunately, 35% tints do not offer any privacy. This is why some people opt for 20% tints in the back seats and rear of the car.
Driving With Dark Tints
If you are an avid camper or find yourself on country roads with little to no ambient lighting, you will reversing with zero visibility. In these situations I would have lower my windows so I can use my side mirrors to navigate. Driving with darker tints requires confidence and knowing your vehicle’s dimensions. But even when you know your angles, you may have to check twice for a biker in Downtown Toronto or check your blind spot twice on the highway for a speeding motorcycle in the summer. This inconvenience and perceived lack of safety is probably enough for most people to never go below 20% tinting. However, the benefits of privacy and extreme heat reduction is very evident. Keeping a car cool in the blazing heat in a car with 17% tints is effortless, while blasting the air conditioning in a car with no tints seems like a futile effort.
If you or someone you know has been charged with window tint fine, contact Ontario Legal Pool to have this matter resolved.