Tinting Laws

California Window Tinting Laws

The state of California has very specific laws regarding window tinting on your car. Every state in the United States has its own percentage of darkness and reflection which  your car windows are allowed to have, as well as other specific regulations you may need to know about. Below is all relevant information pertaining to tinted windows in California.

Window tint darkness

The amount of light that can pass through your vehicle windows is measured in percentages (called VLT). Your tinting film must conform to these standards. In California tint laws are the same for all vehicles, whether sedans or SUVs or vans.

  • Windshield allows transparent strip on top 4 to 5 inches
  • Front side windows must pass through more than 70% of light inside your car (70% VLT)
  • Back side windows and rear windshield can have any darkness

Window tint reflection

Some tinting film can reflect incoming light, therefore reducing glare and heat even further. However, California doesn’t allow the usage of tinting film which has more reflection than a standard window.

Side mirrors

If your rear window is tinted, you vehicle must have dual exterior side mirrors.

Restricted tint colors

California specifically prohibits using any red or amber color or tint film on front windshield. Other colors are permitted for the windshield top strip where tinting is allowed. No color-altering tint is permitted on any other windows.

Medical exemptions

Many states allow different window tint percentages due to certain medical conditions. Ever since Assembly Bill No. 1303 has been approved in 2017, California drivers are able to get medical exceptions for window tint.

Under current California tint laws, persons with medical conditions requiring shielding from UV rays can install clear, colorless and transparent material on any window. Drivers must obtain a written statement from a licensed physician, certifying that they need to be shaded from the sun due to a medical condition.

However, and this is important: California tint law does not permit these devices to be used during darkness (see CA Vehicle Code 26708.2 for reference below). This effectively means window tint film even with a medical exemption is illegal.

Any sun-screening devices beyond legal limits (i.e. under medical exemptions) must be removable. Additionally, these devices need to have at least 35% VLT and reflection, and must be green, gray or neutral smoke in color.

Window film certificate

Drivers are required to have a certificate signed by the tint installing company or from the film manufacturer stating the VLT percentage clearly. This must also display tint film manufacturer’s name and address. Manufacturers are also required to certify the tinting film in California before they are allowed to sell it.

Some towns or counties in California may have their own special regulations about window tinting. If you’re in doubt about tint laws be sure to check with your local law enforcement or DMV offices!

This article about California Window Tinting Laws was last updated in 2023. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!