“There are a large number of people who have illegally tinted windows,” Sparks Police Sgt. Pat Dyer said. “It’s a safety issue because not only can it be difficult for people to see out of their windows, but it can impair an officer’s ability to see inside the vehicle and the driver could have a gun or be drinking.”
The window tinting statute states that the windshield and the windows to the immediate right or left of the driver must have a total light transmission of no less than 35 percent with a tolerance of 7 percent. Vehicle drivers whose windows are not in compliance will be fined and cited, and those who install the tinting could also be fined and cited.
The Office of Traffic Safety recently provided more than 100 electronic window tint meters to local officers.
“These meters have been around for a while, but they’re really expensive and we didn’t have the money for them, so it was fortunate that the Office of Traffic Safety provided some” Dyer said. “Before, we knew some windows were too dark, but we didn’t have a device that showed the exact level of light transmission a window allows for.”
The meters are placed over the top of a window and a digital reader of the percentage of light transmission appears on the screen.
Part of the tinting problem is that despite the fact that tinting businesses are informed of the legal limitations on dark tinting, they often tint customers’ windows too dark anyway.
“Some businesses that are aware of the tinting statute will have their customers sign a disclaimer that says that the company will not be held responsible if the customer is cited or is in an accident,” officer Karl Nieberlein said. “This way, they don’t lose out on any business.”
Nieberlein added that people are able to tint windows on their own, which means that people don’t need to rely on businesses to tint their windows.
The fine for having windows that are too dark is $145, but Dyer spoke with the Sparks Municipal Court and determined that if a person is cited and provides proof that they have changed their windows to abide by the Nevada tinting statute, their citation will be dismissed.
“We don’t have any disclaimers,” said Thomas Kang, owner of Custom Window Tinting in Reno. “Instead, we just don’t offer to tint our customers’ windows more than what’s legal.”
Kang said he orders the window tinting at the customer’s desired level of light transmission and he installs it at his shop. A tinting job costs between $100 and $250.
Kang said he has missed out on business in the past because he won’t tint windows as dark as some customers might like, but that doing so is “too much of a liability” and that “it’s just not worth it.”