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Illinois Window Tint Law: What Drivers Should Know

Thinking about tinting your windows? While this can be a great way to reduce UV exposure, keep out excess heat, keep your interior upholstery in top condition, and improve privacy on the road, you might want to consider your state’s laws first. For Illinois residents, Illinois has some of the strictest laws regarding window tinting. Here is everything you need to know before tinting your windows.


What is the Illinois window tint law?

Illinois regulates and measures a window tint’s visual light transmission, or VLT for short, and a window tint’s reflectiveness. VLT is typically measured as a percentage of light being allowed through a material. For example, a VLT of %75 would allow %75 of light to pass through a window tint. The higher the VLT, the more light is able to pass through the tint, the lower the VLT, the darker the tint. VLT is measured by using a “tint meter” that beams light through the window tint into a receiver that can calculate how much of the light was allowed to pass through. 

Illinois window tint law divides its regulations into types of vehicles and the different window locations throughout the vehicles.


Sedans and passenger vehicles:

  • Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed only on the top 6 inches of the windshield.
  • Front side windows: Must have at least a VLT of 35%.
  • Back side windows: Must have at least a VLT of 35%.
  • Rear window: Must have at least a VLT of 35%.


SUVs and Multi-purpose vehicles:

  • Windshield: Non-reflective tint is allowed only on the top 6 inches of the windshield.
  • Front side windows: Must have at least a VLT of 50%.
  • Back side windows: Any VLT is allowed.
  • Rear window: Any VLT is allowed.


Other regulations:

  • Tint variance: A 5% variation is allowed, meaning that if a front side window must have a VLT of 35%, an actual VLT of 30% is acceptable.
  • Side Mirrors: If the rear window is tinted at all, dual side mirrors are required.
  • Colors: No specific colors of tinting are regulated or banned by Illinois window tint laws.
  • Certificate Requirements: Manufacturers and automotive services are not required to certify the tint film they sell.
  • Sticker requirements: No stickers are needed to identify what is legal or illegal tinting.
  • Medical exemptions: There are medical exemptions allowed for specialized tint VLTs.


How can it affect drivers?

There are a few ways window tinting can affect drivers, some of them regarding the law, and some simply regarding safety.


Fines and Legal Penalties

First, any violation of the above stated laws would result in a petty offense. In addition to this, the fines range from $50 to $500 for the first offense and $100 to $500 for repeated offenses.


Hindered vision:

These laws are not simply about making work easier for police. Their top priority is the safety of divers. One consequence of having too dark of a tint is hindered vision. This is especially true when driving at night with excessively tinted windows.


Hindered communication

Don’t be shocked by this information: excessively dark window tints can prevent you from being seen. While this may be one of the key pros of window tinting, it is also a con when communication with other drivers is considered. Take an intersection for example. It is important for drives to give signals to each other, indicating that all drivers understand who has the right away. Lack of this communication can cause confusion and even accidents.


Prevention of rescue

If you are in a car accident, tinted windows will make assessing your condition difficult, preventing rescuers from finding the best way to help you.


Attracting more attention

While the purpose of dark tinted windows is probably to secure increased privacy, they can actually have the opposite effect. For example, if a car with blacked out windows is driving through traffic with all the other cars having normally tinted windows, it is easy to single out and raise suspicion. Additionally, imagine a potentially embarrassing if not dangerous situation where police are looking for a suspect with a car that matches a heavily tinted car. If the police cannot see the driver, not only will their suspicions be raised, but they can’t verify that the driver is not their suspect, making stopping the vehicle more likely. 


Increased insurance rates

Given that all vehicle modifications have to be reported to insurance providers, heavily tinted windows can actually increase insurance rates, as insurance providers see these as a potential liability. While safety might not sound like an immediate concern for overconfident drivers, raised insurance rates can certainly be felt immediately.


Whether you are trying to reduce unwanted glares, from the sun or from other drivers, you should first consider your state’s laws regarding window tinting and all the ways that it can affect you.

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