District of Columbia Window Tint Law

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Drivers in the District of Columbia are permitted to tint their windows to allow a minimum of 70% light transmittance from the windshield and front side windows and 50% light transmittance from the rear windshield and rear side windows. For minivans, the minimum is 55% for the front windshield and side windows and 35% for the rear windshield and side windows. 
Tinted windows can give your car a sleek look and may even minimize harsh sun exposure. However, excessive tinting can limit visibility. To prevent risky driving, states set specific limits on the amount of tinting permitted for a vehicle’s windshields and windows. 
Want to make sure your car’s windows comply with D.C. law? In this article, car insurance comparison expert and broker app Jerry breaks down everything you need to know about tinting your car’s windows in the District of Columbia.  

What is the visible light transmission percentage?

The term visible light transmission (VLT) percentage refers to how much light can pass through tinted car windows. VLT is a good way to measure the degree of tinting, and states use it to set limits on window tinting. 
A higher VLT means that more light can pass through the window. For example, a 70% tint allows 70% of the light that hits the window to shine through. A lower VLT, like the 5% you might see on a stretch limo, only allows 5% of light into the car’s interior. 
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What is the District of Columbia window tint law?

The Code of the District of Columbia sets strict limits on window tinting. The rules are different for general motor vehicles and minivans. For most cars, the rules are as follows:
  • Front windshield: 70% VLT or above
  • Front side windows: 70% VLT or above
  • Back side windows: 50% VLT or above
  • Rear window: 50% VLT or above
For minivans, the District of Columbia sets slightly lower limits for window tint: 
  • Front windshield: 55% VLT or above
  • Front side windows: 55% VLT or above
  • Back side windows: 35% VLT or above
  • Rear window: 35% VLT or above
In addition to the regulations above, motor vehicles in the District of Columbia may have a non-reflective tint of any VLT applied to the top five inches of the windshield. This tint may not extend past the manufacturer’s AS-1 line.
The District of Columbia sets no restrictions on reflective tint, tint colors, or side mirrors. You don’t need a certificate or sticker to verify legal tinting. 

Medical exemptions

If you or a member of your household have a medical need for darker tinting than the law permits, you must have a letter signed by a physician, physician assistant, ophthalmologist, or optometrist verifying that you or a family member require protection from bright lights or sunlight. Keep the letter in your vehicle at all times

Other exemptions

Certain vehicle types are exempt from the District of Columbia’s window tint laws. The following vehicles are exempt from these restrictions: 
  • Ambulances
  • Buses
  • Hearses
  • Limousines
  • Vehicles owned by churches
  • Official government vehicles
  • Vehicles with tinted windows installed by a manufacturer before purchase

Penalties for violating the window tint law

If you’re pulled over for violating the District of Columbia window tint law, you’ll receive a $50 citation. You’ll also need to remove the tint within five days to comply with the law.
Failure to bring your car into compliance with District of Columbia window tint restrictions will result in a fine of up to $1,000.
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On average, it costs between $150 and $500 to tint a car’s windows. The price will vary depending on your vehicle, how many windows you plan to tint, and the auto shop doing the work.

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