Michigan has a lot of great roads to drive on during the summertime and in winter. Anyone who has spent any time driving on the roads in Michigan has seen a red Ford Mustang flying down the highway with flashy rims and tinted windows. Like many people, I have been envious of these sweet looking vehicles! Extra tinting blocks radiant heat and this keeps the car at a cooler temperature. Over the last ten years or so, it seems like this type of look has become very popular. While these cars look cool, they also invite law enforcement agents to pull you over for violating the Michigan window tint law, known as MCL 257.709.
What The Law Says
To summarize the law, it states that:
Any car or truck on the road is allowed to have window tint on all windows that are located behind the driver if the tint allows 35 percent of more light flow through it and the vehicle has mirrors on each side of the front doors. A car or truck is also allowed to have window tint in front of the driver if the tint is on the top four inches of the driver’s front window. This four-inch rule is also allowed for driver’s and passenger’s side windows.
The law in Michigan is explicitly clear when it comes to window tinting.
A person shall not operate a motor vehicle with any of the following:
(a) A sign, poster, nontransparent material, window application, reflective film, or nonreflective film upon or in the front windshield, the side windows immediately adjacent to the driver or front passenger, or the sidewings adjacent to and forward of the driver or front passenger, except that a tinted film may be used along the top edge of the windshield and the side windows or sidewings immediately adjacent to the driver or front passenger if the material does not extend more than 4 inches from the top of the windshield, or lower than the shade band, whichever is closer to the top of the windshield.
(b) A rear window or side window to the rear of the driver composed of, covered by, or treated with a material that creates a total solar reflectance of 35% or more in the visible light range, including a silver or gold reflective film.
(c) An object that obstructs the vision of the driver of the vehicle, except as authorized by law.
These are the complete exceptions to the rule:
the use of draperies, louvers, or other special window treatments, except those specifically designated in this section, on the rear window, or a side window to the rear of the driver if the vehicle is equipped with 2 outside rearview mirrors, 1 on each side, adjusted so that the driver has a clear view of the highway behind the vehicle.
(b) The use of a nonreflective, smoked or tinted glass, nonreflective film, perforated window screen, or other decorative window application on the rear window or a side window to the rear of the driver.
(c) The placement of a necessary certificate or sticker that does not obstruct the driver’s clear view of the roadway or an intersecting roadway.
(d) A vehicle registered in another state, territory, commonwealth of the United States, or another country or province.
(e) A special window treatment or application determined necessary by a physician or optometrist, for the protection of a person who is light sensitive or photosensitive, if the owner or operator of a motor vehicle has in possession a letter signed by a physician or optometrist, indicating that the special window treatment or application is a medical necessity. However, the special window treatment or application shall not interfere with or obstruct the driver’s clear vision of the highway or an intersecting highway.
So, what exactly is the definition of “total solar reflectance?” This definition requires expertise and a sound understanding of science to come up the correct calculated amount of solar reflectance. If you are going to get your windows tinted, please have it done by a licensed professional. They will have the tools needed to make sure your car stays within the legal requirements of Michigan law.
Why Is There A Window Tinting Law?
While window tinting is cosmetic, it does affect the driver’s visibility.
While it may not be an issue during the day, it becomes apparent during low light situations. While operating your vehicle during the night or inside a structure (unlit parking garage), the driver’s visibility is already diminished; adding a layer of semi-transparent film further diminishes visibility.
This may result in the driver not being able to recognize a pedestrian, bicyclist, or even another vehicle. This law allows the motorist community to operate in a safer environment.”
Medical Expections To The Michigan Window Tint Law
Certain medical conditions make it a necessity to have windows that are tinted darker than the legal limit in Michigan. Conditions that allow a person a medical exception are melanoma, lupus or a sunlight allergy. Always keep your documentation from a medical professional with you in the vehicle! You will need to present this to the police officer if you get pulled over for your tinted windows.
Punishment For Window Tinting
We have represented a ton of clients over the years. We know that people get pulled over all the time by various police departments over window tint. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the failure to adhere to the Michigan window tint law turn into an arrest for drunk driving or narcotic possession.
If your car has obstructed vision or a windshield that is obstructed because of excessive black tint on your window, you will be issued a civil infraction. The punishment for this is a fine and two points on your driving record. You are not required to admit responsibility for this civil infraction if you want to have an informal or formal hearing. These hearings will take place before a magistrate or judge. During this civil infraction hearing, the people will be required to your window exceeded the legal limits. Many times, this evidence is completely based on the officer’s opinion.
There are several factors that can help your case in court. For example, there maybe a lack of witnesses at the hearing. The police officer may not have photographs of your windows and the officer may not even remember your vehicle. While these types of cases are only a civil infraction, before you go into court and admit responsibility, remember that if you receive too many points on your record you will be have your driving privileges suspended by the Secretary of State.
If you have been pulled over for window tinting and then end up facing a criminal charge as the result of this civil infraction, you need to call Shawn now at 616-438-6719. The call is free, will you be? Do not wait! The only thing waiting does is damage your case and help the prosecutor.