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Window Tint Ticket for Interstate Travel

by Guy

I receive a lot of email regarding vehicles visiting or passing through neighboring states wherein they receive a citation for violating the foreign state's window tinting laws. Assuming the vehicle is in compliance with the registering state's window tint laws, this hardly seems just. After much research, I have concluded that most states laws apply equally to residents and non residents. However, exceptions do exist. In 2010, Tennessee enacted legislation wherein officers must prove the window tint violates the registering state's law before issuing a citation. New York law also exempts non-resident vehicles to New York window tint law. In other states such as Arkansas, a window tint ticket is a "fix it ticket". If you remove the window tint and return to have your vehicle inspected, a judge will dismiss the charges. One must wonder why police officers insist on frustrating otherwise law abiding citizens with what falls just short of entrapment. Browsing some police forums I found the overwhelming answer: probable cause to justify a stop. Officers are really just looking to get some "window time" that may lead to a larger charge. Some officers will allow out of state residents go with a verbal warning, provided they aren't disrespected and don't find anything upon visual inspection of the vehicle. Other officers prefer to "issue citations 100% of the time".

A secondary reason why police departments insist on issuing these frivilous citations to out of state residents : revenue. Often these tickets aren't for large amounts, and it's unlikely for the out of state resident to return to the state to contest it. Some officers in New York are continuing to write window tint tickets to residents from New Jersey and elsewhere even though the law explicity states these vehicles are exempt from New York law, counting on the foreigner to mail a check in rather than return for court.

The last reason police continue to issue citations for window tint: officer safety. I however was unable to find any data supporting this for continuance of enforcement. I would say this; if you have your windows tinted, roll all of your windows down before the officer approaches the vehicle, for his safety and yours. And again, the general expectation is for you to follow the laws of the state in which you are operating the vehicle.

If you feel you've been unjustly issued a window tint ticket I'd like to know about it. Email me at info@tintlaws.com. It's my goal to crowdsource data to find which states are the worst offenders for issuing out of state window tint tickets, and which states have explict equipment exception laws.