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New York Window Tint Laws [2021 Update]

We’ve got a quick guide to help you make sense of New York tint laws, which have been on the books since 1992.

The state updated the rules most recently in 2017 and now requires window tint testing as part of the annual motor vehicle inspection program.

Our guide will help you prevent expensive installation mistakes or buying a vehicle that does not meet the regulations of NY tint laws.

You’ll also avoid annoying and costly fines for illegally driving or selling a car with glass that does not comply with the law on window tinting.

Which Vehicles Are Covered by Tint Laws?

NY tint laws cover both passenger cars (sedans, hardtops, coupes, hatchbacks, convertibles, and station wagons) and multipurpose passenger vehicles or MPVs (trucks, vans, SUVs, RVs).

There’s one slight difference in the rules covering the two types of vehicles, which we explain below.

Regulations apply to factory-tinted vehicles, aftermarket tinted windshields, and window glass.

Vehicle window tints must be checked as part of the state’s required annual motor vehicle inspections at a DMV-licensed inspection station.

You can verify your vehicle type by the federally required ID tag on your driver’s side door panel.

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How Is Window Tint Measured?

Visible light transmission (VLT) measures the percentage of light passing through tinted glass or window tint film.

You can easily measure it with a handheld device that reads the amount of light passing through the windshield or vehicle window glass.

If you want to test the VLT of your vehicle glass, you can buy a VLT or Tint Meter for prices ranging from $99-$150 or more, depending on the features.

There’s even a free VLT Tint Meter app for your smartphone though we can’t vouch for its accuracy.

In New York, your annual vehicle test includes window tint VLT measurement since the 2017 update to the regulations.

Vehicle Window Tint Guidelines in NY

New York follows federal regulations on window tinting.

Window tint darkness and reflective guidelines in the Empire State are similar for passenger cars and MPVs except for vehicle rear side windows.

Here’s what you need to know.

Maximum Window Darkness?

In passenger vehicles, front windshields, front side windows, and rear side windows must allow at least 70% visible light transmission for 1992 and newer vehicles.

Rear windows require no light transmission if you have dual side mirrors.

Otherwise, 70% VLT is needed on the back window as well.

On MPVs, the same 70% VLT rules apply except for rear side windows, which can be dark if the multi-passenger vehicle has dual side mirrors.

A New York DMV video explains window tint regulations clearly.

It shows how a technician measures a vehicle’s window tint.

Federal regulations contain similar guidelines.

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Manufacturers of new vehicles and replacement glass in the US, as well as most foreign cars sold in the US, meet these national safety regulations for 70% VLT.

New York Window Tint Guide

This chart nicely sums up New York vehicle tinted glass laws for 1992 and newer vehicles.

All cars must allow 70% transmission of light through windows as shown below:

Passenger Vehicles MPVs/Other Vehicles
Windshield Yes Yes
Front Side Windows Yes Yes
Rear Side Windows Yes No
Rear window No* No*

* If there are side rearview mirrors

Window Tint Reflection & Colors

New York window tint regulations allow up to a maximum six-inch, non-reflective strip of dark tint along the top of the front windshield of vehicles.

These tints cannot be reflective or metallic in appearance, and there are no restrictions on the colors of the window tint.

Car Window Film Installation

Aftermarket glass or DIY window film is okay if it meets NY vehicle window tint laws.

Be careful, though.

In New York, film manufacturers do not need to certify their products.

Installers must provide a sticker between the glass and film on each window, certifying the tint is legal.

How Much Are NY Tint Fines?

If your windows do not meet the 70% light threshold, you can face fines up to $150 for windows that are too dark.

Police can issue one ticket for all non-compliant windows or tickets for each window failing to meet regulations.

Your vehicle will not pass the annual inspection process until you fix the problem.

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That’s a loss of valuable time, availability of your car, and fees to reinspect your vehicle.

Can You Get Pulled Over for Tint in New York State?

If you’re asking yourself, “can you get pulled over for tint in New York?” the answer is yes, police can pull you over for a possible tint violation.

The DMV said police issued more than 710,000 tickets for window tint violations between 2012 and the new law in 2017.

If you’re pulled over, you have until the expiration date for your vehicle inspection tag to fix the problem or risk getting fined the next time police pull you over.

Window Tint Exemptions

If you have certain medical conditions or any disorder due to severe photosensitivity, you may qualify to apply for an exemption from the law.

More New York Window Tint Info

New York window tint laws are clear, and with a little bit of extra effort, you can avoid getting pulled over by police and fined for car windows that are too darkly tinted.

Like everywhere, laws and regulations can change or update, so check the state website if you have questions.

You can get helpful information on vehicle window tinting at the New York State DMV website.

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