Navigating the complexities of vehicle window tinting laws in Maryland is necessary if you do not want to keep getting pulled over by police. These regulations try to strike a delicate balance between personal aesthetic preferences, privacy needs, and vital safety considerations. But most people in Maryland who are interested in tinting their windows find our laws excessive.
But everyone should acknowledge that overly dark window tinting can lead to decreased visibility, particularly in conditions of low light or nighttime, that can cause car accidents. Our lawyers have seen this firsthand. This reduced clarity of vision can create safety risks for the driver as well as for pedestrians. To prevent such hazards, regulations are in place to ensure that a certain level of visibility is maintained for safe driving.
Maryland Vehicle Tint Darkness Regulations
|Allowed Tint Darkness
|Non-reflective 35% VLT tint on AS-1 line or top 5 inches
|Front Side windows
|Must allow more than 35% of light in
|Back Side windows
|Must allow more than 35% of light in
|Must allow more than 35% of light in
The Maryland Tint Law
Here is the verbatim text of the statute §22–406:
(a) (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated. (2) “Aftermarket safety glass replacement” means motor vehicle safety glass replacement services that occur after the original installation by a vehicle manufacturer. (3) “Safety glass” means: (i) Any glass product that is so made or treated as substantially to prevent the glass from shattering and flying when struck or broken; or (ii) Any similar or other product that the Administration approves.
(b) A person may not drive on any highway in this State any motor vehicle manufactured or assembled after June 1, 1937, and registered in this State, unless the vehicle is equipped with safety glass wherever glass is used in the motor vehicle in doors, windows, windshields, and wings.
(c) A person may not sell any motor vehicle manufactured or assembled after June 1, 1937, registered or intended to be registered in this State and driven or intended to be driven on any highway in this State, unless the vehicle is equipped with safety glass wherever glass is used in the motor vehicle in doors, windows, windshields, and wings. Each sale in violation of this provision is a separate offense.
(d) The owner of any motor vehicle may not have broken glass in the windshield of the vehicle replaced with any glass other than safety glass.
(e) The owner of any motor vehicle may not have safety glass, broken or otherwise, in doors, windows, or wings of the motor vehicle replaced with any glass other than safety glass.
(f) A person may not install in the doors, windows, windshields, and wings of any motor vehicle any glass other than glass required by subsections (d) and (e) of this section.
(g) (1) (i) The Administration shall compile, maintain, and publish a list, by name, of the types of glass approved by it as conforming to the specifications and requirements of safety glass as set forth in this section.
(ii) The Administration shall adopt regulations establishing standards and requirements for aftermarket safety glass replacement that:
- Require that the products and services used meet or exceed original equipment manufacturer specifications;
- Require the use of motor vehicle safety glass that meets American National Standards Institute Z26.1 in accordance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 205 and any other applicable federal motor vehicle safety standard adopted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration; and
- Meet or exceed the standards and requirements of the American National Standards Institute/Auto Glass Safety Council/Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard.
(2) The Administration may not register any motor vehicle that is subject to the provisions of this section unless it is equipped with an approved type of safety glass and shall suspend the registration of any motor vehicle subject to this section that the Administration finds is not so equipped until the vehicle is made to conform to the requirements of this section.
(h) In case of any violation of any provision of this section by any common carrier or person operating under a permit issued by the Public Service Commission of Maryland, the permit shall either be revoked or, in the discretion of the Commission, suspended until the provision is complied with to the satisfaction of the Commission.
(i) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, a person may not operate a vehicle registered under § 13–912, § 13–913, § 13–917, or § 13–937 of this article on a highway in this State if: (i) In the case of a vehicle registered under § 13–912 of this article, there is affixed to any window of the vehicle any tinting materials added to the window after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%; and (ii) In the case of a vehicle registered under § 13–913, § 13–917, or § 13–937 of this article, there is affixed to any window to the immediate right or left of the driver any window tinting materials added after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%.
(2) If a police officer observes that a vehicle is being operated in violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the officer may stop the driver of the vehicle and, in addition to a citation charging the driver with the offense, issue to the driver a safety equipment repair order in accordance with the provisions of § 23–105 of this article.
(3) A person may not install on a window of a vehicle any window tinting material that does not comply with the light transmittance requirements specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection.
(4) (i) A person who must be protected from the sun for medical reasons is exempt from the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection if the owner has, in the vehicle at the time the vehicle is stopped by a police officer, a written certification in the manner and format required by the Automotive Safety Enforcement Division of the Department of State Police that details the owner’s medical need for tinted windows with a light transmittance of less than the allowed 35%, from a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State.
(ii) A written certification under this paragraph shall be valid for a period of time that the licensed physician determines the owner needs the enhanced tinted windows, not to exceed 2 years.
(iii) This subsection does not apply to tinting materials that:
- Are affixed in such a manner so as to be easily removed; and
- Are being used to protect a child less than 10 years of age from the sun.
(iv) Nothing in this subsection may be construed to:
- Allow any tinting materials to be added to the windshield of a vehicle below the AS1 line or below 5 inches from the top of the windshield;
- Prohibit a person from operating the vehicle while the person for whom the written certification is required is not present in the vehicle, provided that the written certification is in the vehicle; or
- Alter or restrict the authority of the Administrator to adopt regulations regarding vehicle windows, except with respect to the light transmittance requirements specified in this section.
Let’s Break Down the Maryland Tint Statute
This law explains the rules about the type of glass and window tinting allowed in cars in Maryland.
Types of Glass
- “Aftermarket safety glass replacement” is when you replace your car’s glass after the manufacturer initially installed it.
- “Safety glass” is a special kind of glass that doesn’t break into sharp pieces when it gets hit or broken. It can also be any other type of glass that the state transportation authority approves.
Rules for Driving in Maryland
- Any car made after June 1, 1937, and driven in Maryland must have safety glass in all the windows, doors, windshields, and wings.
- You can’t sell a car made after this date in Maryland unless it has safety glass in these places.
- If your car’s windshield breaks, you have to replace it with safety glass.
- All glass in the doors, windows, or wings must also be safety glass.
- You can’t put any glass in the doors, windows, windshields, or wings of a car that isn’t safety glass.
- The state transportation authority will keep a list of approved glass types and will set standards for replacing glass to make sure it’s safe.
- A car must have approved safety glass to be registered in Maryland.
- If it doesn’t, its registration will be suspended until it gets the right kind of glass.
Penalties for Common Carriers
- If a public transport vehicle breaks these rules, they might lose their permit until they fix the problem.
Window Tinting Rules
- You can’t drive certain types of registered vehicles if the windows have tinting that lets in less than 35% light.
- If a police officer sees a car with too dark a tint, they can stop the driver, give them a ticket, and order them to fix the tint.
- You can’t install window tinting that doesn’t meet the 35% light rule.
- There’s an exception for people who need protection from the sun for medical reasons. They can have darker tints if they have a note from a doctor and keep it in their car.
- This exception doesn’t allow for super dark tints on the windshield and doesn’t change other car window regulations.
Safety and Visibility Considerations
The primary rationale behind these tinting regulations centers on safety and visibility. Excessive tinting can significantly impair a driver’s ability to see, particularly in low-light conditions or at night.
This reduced visibility poses a risk not only to the driver but also to pedestrians and other vehicles. Furthermore, for law enforcement, the ability to see inside a vehicle during a traffic stop is crucial for officer safety. Clear visibility through windows is essential in preventing accidents and ensuring safe interactions with law enforcement.
Reflectiveness and Color Regulations
Maryland’s laws also address the reflectiveness and color of window tints. Tints that are too reflective or mirror-like can create hazards for other drivers due to glare. As such, the state restricts the use of metallic or mirrored tints. Moreover, tints in colors such as red, amber, and yellow are prohibited on front windshields and front side windows. These color restrictions are in place to avoid confusion with emergency vehicles and to maintain clarity of vision through the windows.
Exemptions for Medical Conditions
Recognizing that certain medical conditions necessitate protection from sunlight, Maryland law provides exemptions for such cases. Individuals with specific medical needs can apply for an exemption, which allows for darker tints than normally permitted. To qualify, one must present documentation from a licensed physician. Conditions that typically qualify for these exemptions include certain skin diseases, light sensitivity, and other health issues aggravated by exposure to sunlight.
Legal Consequences of Non-Compliance
Non-compliance with Maryland’s window tinting laws can lead to legal consequences. Violators may face fines and be required to remove non-compliant tinting. Additionally, illegal tints can result in a vehicle failing its inspection, complicating the registration and renewal process. It’s crucial for vehicle owners to ensure their tinting adheres to state laws to avoid these potential issues.
Tips for Choosing the Right Tint
When selecting a window tint, it’s important to choose one that complies with Maryland’s laws. Vehicle owners are advised to consult professional tinting services that are familiar with state regulations. Additionally, it’s wise to verify the most current laws with the local Department of Motor Vehicles or law enforcement agencies, as regulations can change.
Understanding and adhering to Maryland’s window tinting laws is imperative for legal compliance and road safety. Like them or not, these regulations are designed to ensure that drivers have sufficient visibility while also allowing for some degree of personalization and protection from the sun. By following these guidelines, drivers can enjoy the benefits of window tinting without compromising safety or facing legal repercussions.