1869 Walsh Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050


1869 Walsh Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

Navigating California’s Window Tinting Laws in 2024: What You Need to Know

red 2023 Chevy Corvette Z06 with window tint

Navigating California’s Window Tinting Laws in 2024: What You Need to Know

Quick Reference

Windshield: Top 4 inches only
– Front Side Windows: Minimum 70% VLT
– Back Side & Rear Windows: Any darkness for sedans, SUVs, and vans
– Tint Reflection: Not more reflective than a standard window
– Side Mirrors: Required if rear window is tinted
– Restricted Colors: No red, amber, or blue tints
– Certificates & Stickers: Must possess certified tint film certificate and display sticker

Whether you’re a proud California resident or a newcomer to the state, it’s crucial to be well-informed about the latest window tint regulations. In this comprehensive resource, we’ll provide you with the most current information on California’s window tint laws.

California Window Tinting Laws Explained

California’s window tinting laws have been in effect since 1999, and they serve crucial purposes. These regulations aim to balance the desire for customization with safety and law enforcement concerns. To begin, let’s break down the key aspects of California’s window tinting laws:

Windshield Tint Restrictions: California restricts windshield tint to the top 4 inches. This limitation is essential to ensure unobstructed visibility for drivers, especially during nighttime.

Front Side Window Requirements: Front side windows must have a light transmission of 70% or more. This means that they should allow at least 70% of visible light to pass through. This requirement is in place to maintain optimal visibility for drivers and law enforcement.

Back Side and Rear Window: The good news is that there are no specific darkness restrictions for back side windows and the rear window. You have more flexibility in choosing the tint darkness for these windows.

Understanding VLT (Visible Light Transmission)

To comprehend California’s window tinting laws better, it’s crucial to understand the concept of VLT (Visible Light Transmission). VLT measures the percentage of visible light that’s allowed to pass through your car’s windows. In California, VLT requirements vary between sedan cars and SUVs or vans. Let’s delve into these requirements:

Tint Darkness for Sedans:

Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed on the top 4 inches of the windshield. This provides a compromise between customization and safety, as it prevents excessive tinting that could hinder visibility.

Front Side Windows: Aftermarket film must allow more than 88% of light in. Alternatively, if combined with factory-tinted windows, the minimum VLT requirement is 70%. This ensures that front side windows remain relatively transparent, maintaining clear visibility.

Back Side and Rear Windows: You have more freedom when it comes to the tint darkness of these windows, and any level of darkness is allowed.

Tint Darkness for SUVs and Vans:

Windshield: Similar to sedans, non-reflective tint is allowed on the top 4 inches of the windshield for SUVs and vans.

Front Side Windows: Aftermarket film must allow more than 88% of light in, or a minimum of 70% VLT when combined with factory-tinted windows.

Back Side and Rear Windows: Just like in sedans, there are no specific darkness restrictions for back side windows and the rear window of SUVs and vans.

Window Tint Reflection Regulations

Window tint serves not only to reduce visible light but also to reflect incoming light, reducing glare and heat inside your vehicle. California’s window tint law permits a certain level of window reflection. Let’s explore these regulations:

Tint Reflection for Sedans:

Front Side Windows: The tint on front side windows must not be more reflective than a standard window. This ensures that the reflection doesn’t obstruct the view of other drivers or pedestrians.

Back Side Windows: Similar to the front side windows, the tint on the back side windows must not be more reflective than a standard window.

Tint Reflection for SUVs and Vans:

Front Side Windows: For SUVs and vans, the same regulation applies, with the tint on front side windows not being more reflective than a standard window.

Back Side Windows: Like the front side windows, the tint on back side windows must not exceed the reflectivity of a standard window.

Additional California Window Tint Rules and Regulations

California has several other important laws, rules, and regulations related to window tinting that you should be aware of:

Side Mirrors: If you choose to tint your rear window, dual side mirrors are required to maintain adequate visibility. This rule is in place to ensure that your tinted rear window doesn’t compromise your ability to see behind your vehicle.

Restricted Colors: California tint laws prohibit the use of red, amber, or blue tint colors on any windows. Side windows must be colorless to prevent potential confusion or misinterpretation of signals.

Certificates: Manufacturers of tint film must certify the film they sell in the state. Additionally, as a driver, you are required to have the certificate in your possession, ensuring that the tint used complies with state regulations.

Stickers: State law requires either a certificate or a sticker from the installing company on the window. The sticker should include the manufacturer’s name and address for easy verification of compliance with the law.

Medical Exceptions: California law allows medical exemptions for lower tint on all windows. This provision is essential for individuals with specific medical conditions that require additional protection from sunlight.

Local Variations and Recommendations

While we’ve provided a comprehensive overview of California’s window tinting laws, it’s essential to remember that these regulations may be interpreted differently in your county or place of residence. Local variations and enforcement practices can impact how these laws are applied. Therefore, we always recommend double-checking our information with your local DMV or law enforcement authorities to ensure compliance with the law.

Contact Alphawerks Garage for Expert Window Tinting

In the Golden State, personalizing your vehicle with window tinting is a popular choice, but understanding California’s strict regulations is a must. We’ve covered the key aspects of these regulations, from VLT requirements to reflection limits, as well as additional rules and recommendations. 

If you ever have any questions or concerns about window tinting in California, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Dave Thornhill
Dave Thornhill

Dave started vinyl wrapping in 2014, changing the color on his E92 BMW roundel after getting frustrated with other aftermarket options. Over the next three years, he dabbled in vinyl while working other jobs, but fully committed to DW Vinylwerks in 2017. DW Vinylwerks became Alphawerks, and grew from his grandma’s garage to the current location in Santa Clara.