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Illinois Window Tint Laws [2021 Update]

man putting on window tint film on windshield

The State of Illinois updated its Vehicle Code in 2009 with new rules for window tint.

Illinois window tint laws are more complicated than in other states since they differ depending on the type of vehicle you own.

Here’s what you need to know before you apply window tint on your automobile.

What Is VLT?

Illinois tint laws use VLT to determine whether a tint is legal.

VLT stands for Visible Light Transmitted, and it refers to the percentage of light that can get through a window when the sun shines at a right angle.

A higher VLT percentage means the tint will look lighter and let more light in.

There are benefits to window tint with a high VLT percentage, including reducing exposure to UV rays, protecting your car upholstery, and making your windshield and windows less likely to break in an accident.

However, a darker window tint can reduce visibility and make it difficult for law enforcement to see inside of your vehicle.

The primary purpose of Illinois tint laws is to ensure police officers can see inside your vehicle and prevent tints that could make driving unsafe.

Illinois Window Tint Laws

The following laws are the rules you have to follow for a vehicle registered in the state of Illinois.

Windshield Tint

Illinois forbids applying tint to your windshield for safety reasons.

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It’s essential to have optimal visibility when looking through your windshield, which is why you can’t use a tint.

However, you can apply a strip of non-reflective tint to cover the top six inches of your windshield.

This strip won’t reduce visibility but will reduce glare and stop some UV rays.

Front Side Windows

If you own a sedan, you can apply tint with a 35% VLT rating or higher.

For vans, SUVs, or trucks, you’ll need to go lighter and apply tint with a 50% VLT rating or higher.

Back Side Windows

With an SUV, van, bus, or truck, there are no restrictions on the tint you can apply to your back side windows.

You can go as light or dark as you want.

If you drive a sedan, you’ll have to apply tint with a VLT rating of 35% or higher.

Rear Window

Like for back side windows, you can apply any tint you want on the rear window of a van or SUV.

There are restrictions for sedans, and you won’t be able to drive with a rear window tint that is darker than 35% VLT.

Other Regulations

There are a few additional regulations you should know about if you want to tint your windows:

  • There is a special rule if your front side windows don’t have a tint. While the Illinois Vehicle Code restricts the use of back side window tint to 35% VLT on sedans, you won’t have to follow this rule if your front side windows are clear.
  • You can use any tint color you want, but you can’t apply a reflective tint. Products with a metallic or reflective effect are illegal in Illinois.
  • If you apply tint to your back side windows, you’ll have to upgrade your vehicle with dual side mirrors for better visibility.
  • There are no specific rules for the installation process. You can apply any product as long as it falls within the VLT guidelines. You don’t need a sticker to indicate that your window tint is legal, nor do you need to choose a certified manufacturer.
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There are some medical exemptions to these rules.

In the past, you simply had to obtain a letter from your doctor.

You now need to apply for a Tinted Window License Plate.

You can get one of these special plates if you suffer from a condition like lupus or albinism.

You can obtain one of these plates for the vehicle you own or apply for a plate if someone in your household suffers from one of these conditions and you use your vehicle to transport them.

Can You Get Pulled Over for Tint in Illinois?

The answer is yes. You can get pulled over if your window tint goes against Illinois tint laws.

A police officer will pull you over if the tint looks too dark, if it’s reflective, or if you have applied tint on your windshield.

It can be challenging to assess VLT with precision.

A police officer might decide to pull you over to get a closer look at your window tint and ask a few questions about the product you use.

It’s always a good idea to keep the receipt for the window tinting product you purchase, so you have a record of the VLT rating of this product.

What Are the Penalties for Illegal Tint in Illinois?

The answer depends on how the police officer who pulled you over decides to handle the situation.

If the illegal tint isn’t a significant security issue, they might let you go with a warning.

However, if they decide to issue a citation, you’ll receive a fine between $50 and $500.

Illegal tint is a petty offense that might go on your driving record, depending on the severity.

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The amount of the fine can vary depending on how dangerous the illegal tint is.

Going a few percentage points under the legal VLT limit shouldn’t warrant a high fine, but you can get in more trouble if you drive with a tinted windshield or a reflective tint.

Failing to remove the illegal tint is a class C misdemeanor.

If you commit additional violations, the fine can reach $100 to $500, and the class C misdemeanor will go on your record.

Final Thoughts

Customizing your vehicle with window tint is a great way to reduce exposure to UV rays.

Just remember to follow the rules when choosing the tint you want to apply so you can stay within the legal limits.

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