To See, or Not To See - Tinted Windows

tinted side windowsOne of my preferred enforcement practices was to use an unmarked car and drive in the right hand lane at or just under the speed limit. This gave me plenty of time to look at and into whatever passed by on my left. Vehicle defects, failing to wear a seatbelt, distracted driving and other things of interest to a traffic cop were often easily discovered.

I recall doing this once on a cold and rainy afternoon. A car passed by me with both the front side windows rolled down completely and both front seat occupants staring resolutely ahead. Why do you think they were willing to get wet as they pretended not to see me?

As you have probably guessed by now, it was illegally tinted front side windows.

Vehicle owners who do this are surprisingly resistant to following the law.

7.05 (8) No person shall drive or operate on a highway a motor vehicle which has affixed to or placed on the windshield or a window any material that reduces the light transmitted through the windshield or window unless the material is affixed to or placed on

(a) the windshield but not more than 75 mm below the top of the windshield,

(b) a side window that is behind the driver, or

(c) the rear window if the motor vehicle is equipped with outside rear view mirrors on the left and right side of the motor vehicle.

(9) If a motor vehicle contains manufactured glass, tinting contained within the glass must meet the minimum light transmittancy requirements under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

In my experience, virtually all Notice & Order #3's were ignored. Ditto the offer to cancel a traffic ticket if the tint was removed and the vehicle presented for inspection. Sometimes it took multiple tickets and Notice & Order #2's to correct the issue.

I know of one business that actually told their customers that if they were stopped by the police they could come back, have the tint removed, present the vehicle for inspection and then have the tint put back on. Once. Free of charge.

222   A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

You could even find vehicles with illegal tint being displayed for sale at businesses.

8.01   No person who is engaged in the business of selling motor vehicles shall keep for sale, or sell or offer for sale, any new or used motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped as required by these regulations.

Some drivers tried to convince me, even producing a doctor's note, that they had health or vision issues that required the tint. I could understand this for people who suffered from cutaneous porphyria, but only RoadSafetyBC can grant an exemption from these rules and they will not do so.

Why bother enforcing these rules? The information that we need to drive is predominantly visual:

  • Tint prevents other road users from making eye contact with the driver
  • Impairment of the driver's ability to identify and react to a low contrast target, particularly among older drivers
  • Tint remains in place at night and during times of impaired visibility

So, to see or not to see. Why would you limit your ability to drive safely on purpose?


From Twitter

You mention the shops that would do a free reinstall after they removed and passed inspections. Why is @TranBC not revoking these shops permits to do inspections?

Similarly I've seen a # of commercial vehicles with tinted side windows. How do they pass MVI?


The shop that I mentioned is not a Designated Inspection Facility so there is no operating permit to withdraw.

As for the commercial vehicle, it would not be the first time that I saw something leave inspection with problems not corrected. There are forms for enforcement personnel to submit reporting what was found.

Window tint

You didnt mention the danger it poses for police conducting a traffic stop.They are virtually approaching blind in an already difficult situation.My understanding is, the current laws regarding side window tint, are the result of a fatal shooting of a California Highway Patrol officer in the late 70's under those very circumstancesMaybe the people who think its petty to get a ticket for illegal tint,would think different if they knew where and why it became an issue. Also worthy to mention,look closely at car commercials on TV,and you will notice all windows,often including the windshield, are tinted for the ad.Its actually a sensitive issue with the manufactures,but is common practise for "creative" purposes.You mentioned the section 222 "expose or display for sale".

Food for thought.

That's True

I thought about it as I wrote the article but didn't think that many people would consider it to be a valid reason. I'm pleased that you did.


Back in the 80’s, I put window tint on my side windows in my Peterbily. It really did look cool with the windows blacked out. But I found out rather quickly that it was almost impossible to back into the loading dock, at night, with the windows rolled up. The only thing you could see was a reflection of everything that was on the interior of the truck! you couldnt see in your mirrors, or see anything outside so I took a couple pictures of the truck....and stripped it all off.


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