Shady deal: Your tinted car windows could be illegal

Man looking inside a car. Stock photo by Getty Images

An Ontario driver’s recent run-in with the law sheds some light on an automotive problem you may not even know you have: illegally tinted windows.

Ursula Bennett got a ticket for her overly-tinted windows, which she’d always assumed were legal. After all, the car came that way from a dealer. However, this aftermarket tint was technically illegal in Ontario.

That’s a potential problem for many drivers. Manufacturers adhere to federal standards, but then each province regulates dealer modifications like tinting.

The rules vary on several aspects including which windows you can tint and how dark they can be. In general, you can tint your rear windows and rear windshield as much as you like, although a few exceptions apply.

Nova Scotia allows no rear windshield tinting, except for what came from the manufacturer.

In Manitoba, the rear windows must allow 35 per cent of light to penetrate. Some police will carry photometers or light readers that allow them to measure that percentage.

Front windows and windshields that don’t allow you to see inside the car are illegal in virtually every province and territory in Canada.

Some provinces allow a certain degree of tinting, but others ban it outright.

Traffic laws in Quebec stipulate windows must let in 70 per cent of the light. Ontario doesn’t prescribe a specific percentage but windows should not be so dark that police can’t make out the driver’s face or see properly inside the vehicle.

Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan don’t permit any front-window tinting at all.

Those laws exist primarily for safety reasons. Drivers need the ability to make eye contact with each other and with pedestrians, and police want drivers to be visible as well.

Unfortunately, those laws apply as soon as you drive into the province. Your legal-in-Ontario tints could still get a ticket in Nova Scotia, so be aware of the laws and don’t be too shady on the roadways.

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