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Vehicle Tinting Law


Please read these recent ammendmentds to the law carefully as they will effect the way in wich your car windows can be tinted and also may deem any existing vehicles with heavily tinted front windows to now be illegal. If you are in any doubt, contact us for advice.

Amendments to LegislationSection 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations have been amended to include "Window Tint Films" where such materials attached to the glass are capable of reducing the Visible Light Transmission of forward windows to below prescribed levels (70% VLT for windows forward of the 'B' pillar).
This will effectively ban the practice in future of applying virtually all tinted films to windows forward to the 'B' pillar on any vehicle that is to be driven on UK roads.

The reason for these changes is the recent proliferation of vehicles that are excessively tinted. Some vehicles may be so heavily tinted that they present a real danger when used on public roads. The action being taken by the government follows a fatality that occurred recently where a heavily tinted car was involved in a collision with a motorcycle and the window tints were held to blame due to the vision of the driver being impaired.
There is however, a recognised difference between "light window tints" which may be considered safe for road use and "excessively dark window tints" which are not.

There has also been a great deal of debate in recent years about the legitimacy of window tints that do not obscure the vision of the driver. A clear case has been argued that road safety window tints do not actually conflict with the existing regulations. The Department for Transport have argued however, that section 32 was always intended to cover materials attached to the glass, despite the fact that no mention is made in the Regulation itself. The only solution remaining would be to amend the legislation.

Consequently and in order to clarify the situation, the Government have finally decided to up-date the Regulations to specially include Tinted Films since, in the view of the Police and the Department for Transport, this is the only way in which the problems of excessive tints can be remedied.

Unfortunately however, even tint films that may be considered to be safe for road use till now be viewed as in conflict with Regulations, enabling the Police and Vehicle Inspectorate to take action against vehicle owners.
This has significant implications for the owners of vehicles that have window tints and also those that are responsible for installing or selling window tints.

Implications for the installer and motor retailer

From 1st January 2004 , any Motor retailer that sells a vehicle that has window tint films applied which reduce the visible light transmission level to below the prescribed levels forward of the 'B' pillar is committing an offence and runs the risk of prosecution under section 75 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act with reference to Section 41 (which refers to Construction and Use Regulations)
In a similar way, anyone responsible for the fitment of window tints which reduce visible light transmission levels to below prescribed levels on windows forward of the 'B' pillar is committing an offence and can be prosecuted under Section 76 of the Road Traffic Act.

Implications for the vehicle owner

After much discussion, a sympathetic policy has been agreed between the Department for Transport and the Glass and Glazing Federation to ensure that all vehicle owners that have had tints applied in the past may be dealt with fairly. This applies in particular where the infringement is with respect to tints that do not pose a significant threat to Road Safety, despite being in convention with the amendment regulations.

As of January 1st 2004, the owner of a vehicle that has tints applied forward of the 'B' pillar is liable to be challenged by either the Police of by an Inspector from the Department for Transport's Vehicle Inspectorate, where their vehicle is notices being driven on public roads.

Where such a vehicle is stopped and the window tints applied are such that the visible list transmission level, when measured using an appropriate device, falls to below prescribed levels, the following enforcement guidelines have been agreed with and recommended by the Government.

Above 30% Visible Light Transmission (Less severe window tints)The driver or owner of such a vehicle will be required to have the tinted film removed from the window under the direction of a rectification notice or a prohibition notice. A period of grace will apply for a limited number of days (normally ten) during which time the vehicle may be driven whilst the rectification work is to be completed. In either case, the vehicle will need to be inspected by a Police Officer or Vehicle Inspectorate Office to confirm that the glass has been restored to a compliant condition. Prosecution is unlikely in such circumstances provided the vehicle owner complies fully.

Below 30% Visible Light Transmission (Excessively dark window tints) The driver or owner of such a vehicle may be issued with an immediate Prohibition Notice and immediately prevented from driving the vehicle on public roads until the tints have been removed and either a Police Officer or Vehicle Inspectorate Office confirms that the glass has been restored to a compliant condition. It is also possible depending on the severity of the offence, that the owner may be prosecuted for driving a vehicle in a non-roadworthy or even dangerous condition with the potential for penalty points and a fine.
Driving such a vehicle on public roads before the tints have been removed and before a Prohibition notice has been lifted will be a serious offence and the owner or driver is likely to be prosecuted.

Clear Security FilmClear security film that only marginally reduces the visible light transmission levels on windows forward of the 'B' pillar may be considered to be compliant with the amended regulations subject to the quality of the fitment being to a standard that does not result in the vision of the driver being obscured in any way.
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Constructions & Use Act 1986 Light Transmission Of GlazingMotor vehicles first used between 1/6/1978 and 31/3/1985 must have windows which allow at least 70% of light to pass through. Motor vehicles first used on or after 1/4/1985 must have windscreens which allow at least 75% of light to pass through - all other windows must admit at least 70% of light.
These requirements do not apply to:

Any part of the windscreen outside of the 'vision reference zone' (as defined in C&U Regulation 32(13);

Windows through which the driver is unable, at any time, to see the road;

Windows in ambulances which are behind the driver's seat;

Windows in buses, goods vehicles, locomotives or motor tractors which are behind the driver's seat (except those which face the rear - as defined by C&U# Regulation 32(12) - or which form all or part of an exterior door); and

Windows in cars which are fitted behind the drivers seat and which bear an 'e' mark indicating type approval to the European glazing Directive 92/22/EC. Tinted FilmC&U Regulation 32 does not apply to specifically prohibit any window from having a tinted film applied, but a window with a tinted film which takes light transmittance levels below those specified above could be interpreted as contravening the Regulation.

If a vehicle's windows are excessively tinted by the use of stick-on film or a spray, there may be a contravention of C&U# Regulation 30. This requires that all glass or other materials fitted must be maintained in such a condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver. Again, it does not specifically prohibit those windows from having a tinted film applied, but doing so could be interpreted as contravening the Regulation.

Note: The information in this document is a summary of DETR's understanding of what the law requires. However, ultimately the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts based on individual facts of any particular case. You are therefore advised to consult the relevant legislation and, if necessary, seek independent advice

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