Many drivers today recognize the increased comfort and protection automotive window tint provides. But understanding your state’s unique tint laws can prove to be a bit more complicated. Since there is no federal standard for automotive window tinting, each state has a different set of regulations.

While state laws vary, consumers can familiarize themselves with some general guidelines to better understand these regulations. Understanding these guidelines will help ensure that your vehicle’s tint is compliant with the laws in your state.


  • Visible light transmission: States measure the legal amount of tint on a car window by its visible light transmission — the amount of light that can pass through. The lower the number, the darker the film. Idaho, Kentucky and Montana measure automotive tints strictly by the film’s VLT.
  • Net VLT: Most states measure the VLT in terms of the combined light transmittance of the film and the glass itself, or net VLT. It’s essential to note this, since auto manufacturers often factory-tint the glass of many of their vehicles.
  • Front side windows: The front driver’s and passenger’s side windows typically must be lighter than the rear windows and no darker than 20% VLT, with most states requiring at least a 35% VLT. A high VLT is necessary for the driver to see the road and side mirrors correctly.
  • Back and rear windows: For the back side windows and the rear window, the VLT permitted is often different for sedans than it is for multipurpose vehicles like SUVs and vans. In many states, there are no VLT restrictions on the back and rear windows for MPVs.
  • Windshield: Many states allow a non-reflective tint on the windshield, usually only to a specific point, starting from the top. This strip of tint is often called an “eyebrow.” Many states specify a measurement in inches or use the AS1 line marked on many windshields.
  • Reflectance: Some tints contain a metallic additive to reflect incoming light and reduce the heat and glare visible light creates. The laws surrounding reflectance vary, with some states allowing only a specific percentage of reflectivity. Others do not allow a mirrored appearance or any film that increases reflectivity.
  • Tint colors: The laws surrounding tint colors such as red, amber, yellow, black, gold and blue vary from state to state. Some do not specify any color restrictions, while others ban color-altering tints such as red, blue and amber. Most states allow gray, silver or black films.
  • Medical exemptions: Most states allow for medical exemptions for drivers who are particularly sensitive to sunlight.

The IWFA’s Free Guide to Car Window Tint Laws

The International Window Film Association has put together a comprehensive State Window Tinting Rules and Laws chart. You can view and download the 2020 version of the chart here, or check here to see the latest version of the rules. The chart provides a quick summary of all the automotive tint laws on the books.

While it’s still crucial to check your state’s most current regulations, any local ordinances and law enforcement, this chart is an excellent way to check what you can and cannot do in your state. Here’s a quick glossary of terms the IWFA uses to distinguish each state’s automotive tinting laws.


  • Film: A state marked “film” measures VLT by the film itself. 
  • Net: Most states use net VLT, which means they measure visible light transmission for the combined glass and film.
  • Vague: Some states have unclear rules about how they measure VLT. The IWFA marks these states as “vague.” If you live in one of these states, your local Madico®, Inc. dealer can advise you further. The safer bet is probably to choose a film based on the net VLT, since it combines the factory tint with the aftermarket window film.
  • Windshield: In this column, the chart specifies a maximum number of inches that the windshield’s tinted “eyebrow” can extend. Some state laws allow this strip to extend down to the AS1 line. A few select states do not allow windshield tinting. Ohio allows a light tint for the entire window as long as it features 70% VLT. Most states allow an optically clear windshield treatment that protects the windshield from scratches and other concerns.
  • Reflectivity percentage: The chart expresses a permitted reflectance as a percentage. It also uses a few other indicators depending on the state’s specific legal language.
  • NR: This abbreviation stands for “not regulated.” Many states have no regulations regarding reflectance.
  • NE: This abbreviation stands for “not excessive,” which is an unspecified percentage of reflectivity. Iowa is currently the only state that dictates that window reflectance must be “not excessive.”
  • MNIR: Many states have laws saying that window films “must not increase reflectivity.” In other words, the film cannot make the window itself more reflective.
  • MBNR: Other states use a non-specific ruling that the film “must be non-reflective.”
  • NMMA: A few states have ruled that window films must have “no metallic or mirrored appearance.” The film may reflect some visible light as long as it does not look metallic or mirrored.
  • Restricted colors: Some states restrict the use of specific window tinting colors. The IWFA chart lists specific banned colors. The colors that have restrictions in some states include red (R), yellow (Y), amber (A), blue (B), gold (G) and black (BK). If the state has no restricted colors, the chart will say “N/S” or not specified.

Learn More About Your State’s Laws From Your Local Madico Dealer

Tinted window film is a popular way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays while driving. It offers UV protection and helps keep your car cooler when sitting in the hot sun. It can also reduce glare, making it easier to focus on the road. It slows fading to protect your car’s interior and can even hold shattered glass in place, keeping you protected during an accident.

Because tinted window film offers protection from the sun and added privacy, many car owners want to know how dark a tint they can legally install. Professional window film dealers are aware of the tint laws in their state of business and can advise you on the tint product that will best meet your needs while still adhering to state laws. It is illegal for dealers to sell and install tint that does not comply with state laws. However, it is ultimately up to the consumer to ensure that their tint is legal.

Contact your local Madico dealer for more information about your state’s rules and to learn what they suggest for your vehicle.