1. #1
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    Need clarification of TN Tint Laws please.

    I have read TCA 55-9-107 over and over. I understand the law is no less than 35% tint on any window. Of course, there are the exceptions: police, commerical, and medically cleared vehicles.

    I get the excuse, "It's Factory", or "I bought it like that". Even some other officers have said that new cars from the factory are darker than 35% and their legal, especially trucks and suvs. I went to a couple of dealerships though and they said that all vehicles shipped to them should be legal.

    I've also hear from other officers with more years in that I'm wrong and trucks and suvs can have whatever tint they want, but I don't read that in the law. I really need some help with this.

    Also, what about that mirror tint? I see alot of partial or half mirror tint on windows. I would think that would be illegal too by reading the law. Can anyone clarify any of this. I use Window Tint meter to make sure my Window Tint stops are solid in court. Thanks!

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    35% is the lowest light transmittal rating it can be except for factory shade band. You will see rear windows especially on a SUV that a little darker than that from the factory. These windows from the factory are shaded you easily tell the difference between a factory made and tint film applied to the windows. Doesn't matter if someone bought a car with illegal tint, TN law says it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with the tint. So they are out of luck even if it isn't their car.

    I would not mess with the factory shading and it may be covered under the federal code. Mirror tint is out right illegal, unless it changed this last session all mirror tint is no good. Also they are to carry a receipt in the vehicle that states it complies with TCA 55-9-107 and a sticker on driver's window. If they don't have these they can be cited. If you stop someone for tint and they provide a receipt from a dealer that installs tint and it is illegal they can also be cited.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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    Our window tinting law is a little tricky to read. I'm not an attorney (yet), but I feel I have a good grasp on interpretation, so I will give my opinion on the matter. Ultimately it's up to the prosecutor (ADA) and judge to the final outcome. It is pretty clear that the statute says that it is on the burden of the driver (not the officer) to prove that the tint is legal.
    (a) (1) It is unlawful for any person to operate, upon a public highway, street or road, any motor vehicle in which any window that has a visible light transmittance equal to, but not less than, that specified in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205, codified in 49 CFR 571.205, has been altered, treated or replaced by the affixing, application or installation of any material that:

    (A) Has a visible light transmittance of less than thirty-five percent (35%); or

    (B) With the exception of the manufacturer's standard installed shade band, reduces the visible light transmittance in the windshield below seventy percent (70%).
    To me, section 1(B) means that you can't have any tint on the windshield that affects the visual light transmittance (sun) less than 70%, which is very, very light. This would tell me that no tint is allowed on the windshield aside from what is factory installed in TN.

    (2) Any person who installs window tinting materials in this state for profit, barter, or wages or commissions is defined as a “professional installer” for the purposes of this section; and it is unlawful for a professional installer to apply tinting materials to any motor vehicle so as to cause that motor vehicle to be in violation of this section.

    (3) All professional installers of window tinting materials shall supply and shall affix to the lower right corner of the driver's window an adhesive label, the size and style of which shall be determined by the commissioner of safety, that includes:

    (A) The installer's business name; and

    (B) The legend “Complies with Tennessee Code Annotated, § 55-9-107.”

    (4) All professional installers of window tinting materials shall supply each customer with a signed receipt for each motor vehicle to which tinting materials have been applied that includes:

    (A) Date of installation;

    (B) Make, model, paint color and license plate number and state;

    (C) The legend “Complies with Tennessee Code Annotated, § 55-9-107, at date of installation”; and

    (D) The legend “This receipt shall be kept with motor vehicle registration documents.”

    (5) The owner of any vehicle in question has the burden of proof that the motor vehicle is in compliance with this section.
    If the tint is done at a legitimate tint shop, the compliance sticker should be on the bottom corner of the driver's door and there should also be a certificate that accompanies the tint where you can place it with your registration should it come under question. I have yet to see both, but I often see the compliance sticker. Of those vehicles where the compliance sticker is affixed, it wasn't even an issue whether their tint was legal. Either way, it clearly states that it is on the driver to prove that their tint is legal.

    (6) (A) The restrictions of this subsection (a) do not apply to any of the following motor vehicles:

    (i) Any motor vehicle model permitted by federal regulations to be equipped with certain windows tinted so as not to conform to the specifications of subdivision (a)(1)(A) with respect to those certain windows;

    (ii) Any motor vehicle bearing commercial license plates or government service license plates that are used for law enforcement purposes, for those windows rearward of the front doors; and

    (iii) Any motor vehicle that is registered in another state and meets the requirements of the state of registration.

    (B) This subdivision (a)(6) shall not be construed in any way to exempt the front door windows of any motor vehicle of any kind from the specifications of subdivision (a)(1)(A).
    This section is kind of tricky. If you read it outright, it says any vehicles with government or commercial plates are exempt. However, section (B) says this subdivision shall not be construed in any way to exempt the front door windows of any motor vehicle of any kind from the specifications of subdivision (a)(1)(A), which refers to VLT less than 35%. In other words, commercial vehicles can have tint below the 35% requirement on the rear windows.

    c) It is probable cause for a full-time, salaried police officer of this state to detain a motor vehicle being operated on the public roads, streets or highways of this state when the officer has a reasonable belief that the motor vehicle is in violation of subdivision (a)(1), for the purpose of conducting a field comparison test.

    (d) It is a Class C misdemeanor for the operator of a motor vehicle to refuse to submit to the field comparison test when directed to do so by a full-time, salaried police officer, or for any person to otherwise violate any provisions of this section.

    (e) The commissioner of safety shall establish a standardized method and procedure by which law enforcement officers can readily, and with reasonable accuracy, conduct a field comparison test to determine if a motor vehicle's windows are in compliance with this section.
    I skipped the section regarding medical conditions, because in my 8 years of law enforcement I have yet to run across someone who had documentation from the TDOT Commissioner (as outlined) that gave them an exemption from the tint. Not that it is not possible, but it's rare.

    This last quote just reinforces our authority to conduct a traffic stop and inspect the tint and penalties for refusing to allow tint to be inspected. It also mentions that the commissioner is required to provide a standardized method to measure the tint. This could be using a meter or those little cards that some departments issue their officers (like mine).

    Sorry so long. As far as commercial vehicles like limos and other transport vehicles, their front windows, just as anyone else's cannot be tinted below the 35% VLT requirement. SUVs are fair game as well. I'm not sure where your officer friends got that one from. If SUVs have tint less than 35% any of the windows, that's a violation.

    If you have a tint meter, it probably wouldn't hurt to go by a couple of car dealers and measure the tint on the rear windows of some SUVs. My Tahoe came with a little bit darker rear windows from the factory, but not darker than 35%. I would be interested to know if you find any that have a VLT below 35% right off the lot. Not likely though.
    Last edited by SgtScott31; 06-01-2010 at 11:39 AM.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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    I've actually came across a medical exemption for the tint once. They were issued a state sticker for their window. It was an older gentleman with vision issues, which doesn't make sense for him at night with 5% tint.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCOP View Post
    I've actually came across a medical exemption for the tint once. They were issued a state sticker for their window. It was an older gentleman with vision issues, which doesn't make sense for him at night with 5% tint.
    I'm not a cop, but I know some of the TN motor vehicle laws do not make sense period. My Grandmother just turned 90 (God bless her) and hasn't driven since the late '80's, but has been renewing her DL through the mail for years!!! We all love her, but there is NOWAY she ought to be on the road. I've always said to my parents ,or anyone that will listen, that when you come up for renewal you should have to take another road test. I have a pilot's license and every two years you have what's called a biannual flight review where you basically go up and have to take another check ride with someone who is a certified flight instructor, along with having a doctor examine you saying you are "physically fit" to operate an aircraft. Albeit it's all at your expense, but flying, much like driving, is a privilege not a right. Having to do something comparable through the DMV every so often IMO would not be such a big deal. Sorry to digress from the Tint discussion but I thought I would add another element into our TN section since it's been kind of dead for a couple of weeks and I've been stuck at home with a broken right foot...which means I'm medically unable to operate any kind of motor vehicle, regardless of tint......

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    Yes I agree with retesting every few years regardless of age. If someone is driving that needs to be be retested an officer and can submit a form and have the state do so. I have never done one but I have some.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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    Indeed. I have submitted several people for retesting.

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    Gopack,

    As JD and negotiator mentioned, we have forms available to us to submit to the state if we feel someone needs to be evaluated for their driving ability. I investigated a crash involving a lady renting a vehicle on the ground level at the airport. She stomped on the gas (instead of the brake) and did a complete circle, striking curbs, parked vehicles and ultimately slamming into a wall. She had some injuries (elbow was pushed through windshield), but nothing life-threatening. This was the first time I submitted the form to the state asking to reevaluate this woman's driving. Unfortunately she had a TX DL, so I'm not sure how much follow-up will occur with an out-of-state license. If there's a possibility your grandmother will drive again and you feel she's a danger to herself and/or others, then I would recommend speaking with an officer or trooper in her area about possibly getting her to retest. I'm not sure if there are any others that have the authority. The state of TN makes photo-IDs for those who are unlicensed if she's worried about not having a government-issued ID.


    As far as your pilot's license, do you get evaluated by the flight standards folks from BNA? I know a few of them from working on some issues with general aviation aircraft and a flight attendant we caught intoxicated.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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    Quote Originally Posted by SgtScott31 View Post
    Gopack,

    As JD and negotiator mentioned, we have forms available to us to submit to the state if we feel someone needs to be evaluated for their driving ability. I investigated a crash involving a lady renting a vehicle on the ground level at the airport. She stomped on the gas (instead of the brake) and did a complete circle, striking curbs, parked vehicles and ultimately slamming into a wall. She had some injuries (elbow was pushed through windshield), but nothing life-threatening. This was the first time I submitted the form to the state asking to reevaluate this woman's driving. Unfortunately she had a TX DL, so I'm not sure how much follow-up will occur with an out-of-state license. If there's a possibility your grandmother will drive again and you feel she's a danger to herself and/or others, then I would recommend speaking with an officer or trooper in her area about possibly getting her to retest. I'm not sure if there are any others that have the authority. The state of TN makes photo-IDs for those who are unlicensed if she's worried about not having a government-issued ID.


    As far as your pilot's license, do you get evaluated by the flight standards folks from BNA? I know a few of them from working on some issues with general aviation aircraft and a flight attendant we caught intoxicated.
    I don't think we have to worry about her driving, she hasn't in 20+years, she keeps it I think because in her mind it's still a symbol of her independence. She lives on her own down the road from my parents and gets around pretty well, but relies on them for trips to the store, doctor appointments, etc.

    I did my private pilot check ride when I was at MTSU and we had our own designated examiners, but some of my buddies had their flight instructor checkouts with people from the FSDO. If you're just getting a biannual flight review all you need to do is go up with a certified flight instructor and get your log book signed. I haven't flown in a long time but was in aviation long enough (I was also a controller) to know that if the FSDO wanted to talk to you it wasn't necessarily to ask you how your day was going ;-)

    I worked the flight line at the Smyrna Airport during college and got to know a few of the public safety guys there, two of them used to work at BNA with you I believe.

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    Yeah, they sure did. The Chief of public safety at Smyrna was with us around 15 years.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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