What Are New York State Window Tint Laws?

Written by J. Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

Tint laws specify the minimum amount of light transmittance on vehicles' windows. Specific provisions for New York's tint laws may be found in Section 375 (12-a) of the Vehicle and Traffic consolidated laws. The window tint laws in New York state were last amended in 1991 and are among the most severe of any state.

New York Tint Requirements

New York tint laws require that all vehicles have no less than 70 percent light transmittance on the windshield and front side windows, excepting the top 6 inches of the windshield, which may be tinted to any darkness. Vehicles classified as station wagons, sedans, coupes, hardtops, hatchbacks or convertibles may not have back side windows of less than 70 percent light transmittance, while SUVs, vans and other vehicles may have any level of tint on the back side windows.

All New York vehicles may have any level of tint on the rear window. However, if the rear window and rear side windows are tinted to less than 70 percent, the vehicle must be equipped with functioning side mirrors and properly adjusted so that the driver can have a clear view of traffic behind it.

While there are no restricted colors of tint in New York state, windows may not appear metallic or mirrored. Furthermore, all tinted windows must prominently display a sticker between the film and the glass specifying that the tint level is within legal range.

Medical Exemptions to New York State Tint Laws

There are medical exemptions for individuals who must be "shielded from the direct rays of the sun" due to a variety of potential symptoms and conditions. You must consult with your doctor, have him or her make a statement to prove that you have such a condition along with the minimum amount of light you can tolerate, and apply with the office of the New York Commissioner of Public Health for an exception to the tint laws. The Commissioner's Office will then provide you with a "sufficiently noticeable sticker" of exemption to affix to the affected windows, according to Section 375 (12-a).

Reasons Behind Window Tint Laws

There are very harsh window tint laws in New York state for two reasons. First, having clearer windows improves visibility while driving, making it less likely that you will get into an accident. Window tinting especially decreases visibility at night. Second, clearer windows ensures that peace officers can look inside vehicles at a glance and make sure that there are no drugs or contraband in the vehicle.

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