Like most states, Colorado has rules and regulations in place for how dark car window tint can be. Colorado window tint laws, officially enacted in 1995, are there for a reason: to protect people from harm and other dangerous situations on the road. Although most new cars today come with some level of “built-in” factory tint, window tinting typically refers to a process of applying a thin film to the interior surface of a vehicle’s windows.
Why Do People Tint Their Car Windows?
Car window tinting can give your ride a stylish look, but it may come as a surprise that there are other benefits to tinting your car’s windows – as long as you’re obeying your state’s window tint laws. Car window tint can improve safety by reducing glare caused by the sun and headlights. In an accident, automotive window tint film is said to help hold shattered glass in place or reduce the amount of shattered glass. Tinted windows also provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This not only benefits your skin but also your car’s interior as well. UV exposure can fade, warp, and crack upholstery and plastics inside a vehicle.
Car window tinting also has financial and environmental benefits; some argue that it is one of the most affordable ways to keep your car cooler. Most of us are aware that running the AC in a vehicle requires gas to function. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, operating your car’s air conditioner on “Max” can reduce MPG by 5%–25% compared to not using it. Window tint can block heat from entering your vehicle, which means that your car won’t have to work as hard to cool down. As a result, it can improve fuel efficiency ($) and lower your environmental impact and carbon footprint.
And let’s not forget about security – window tint can protect your car from break-ins. No matter the reason for choosing to tint your windows, make sure you understand Colorado window tint laws and tint limits before you darken your vehicle’s glass.
What are Colorado’s Window Tint Laws?
Car window tint is measured by the percentage of light that passes through a car’s windows. This is called visible light transmission, also known as VLT. A higher VLT means more light can pass through the window tint film. For example, a window tint with a 75% VLT will allow 75% of the light to pass through, whereas a 15% VLT will only allow 15% of the light to pass through, making the 15% tint a much darker film.
Colorado revised statute 42-4-227 outlines Colorado window tint laws in our state. In Colorado, the rules are as follows:
- Legal Window Tint Limits in Colorado
- Windshield: Non-reflective 70% VLT or higher, only on the top 4 inches
- Front side windows: 27% VLT or higher (must let more than 27% of light in)
- Backside windows: 27% VLT or higher
- Rear window: 27% VLT or higher
Out-of-state registered vehicles operating in Colorado are required to have at least a 20% VLT on all windows other than the windshield.
What is the Darkest Legal Tint Allowed in Colorado?
You are allowed a 27% or higher VLT tint on all four side windows and the rear window. However, there is a small caveat. If there is NO tint on the driver and passenger side windows, you are allowed ANY percent of VLT window tint on the two back side windows and rear window.
Can You Tint Your Front Windshield in Colorado?
Colorado window tint law permits non-reflective, 70% VLT window tint only on the top four inches of a windshield. It is illegal to tint an entire windshield in Colorado, regardless of the VLT of the tint.
Other Colorado Window Tint Rules and Regulations
Colorado has several other window tint laws, rules, and regulations, including:
- Dual side mirrors are required if the back and rear windows are tinted.
- Red or Amber window tint colors are illegal under Colorado state law.
- Metallic, mirrored, or reflective tinting is illegal on any car windows.
- Window tint film manufacturers do not need to certify the film they sell in Colorado.
- Although recommended, a sticker to identify legal window tinting is not required under Colorado state law.
- Colorado law does NOT allow medical exemptions for special tints.
Can You Get Pulled Over for Illegally Tinted Windows in Colorado?
Yes. Drivers must abide by the window tint laws in Colorado or risk fines and other consequences. Law enforcement can pull you over if he or she suspects the tint is too dark, if it is mirrored, or a red or amber color.
What are the Penalties for Illegal Window Tint?
In Colorado, the penalty for having illegally tinted windows could result in a misdemeanor with a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000 and possibly points on your license, or a Class B Traffic Infraction. Penalties for a Class B traffic infraction are punishable by a fine ranging from $15 to $100 plus a small surcharge, but no DMV points.
Why You Should Obey Window Tint Laws: Liability in Car Accidents
While legal window tint will not affect a person’s visibility when driving, illegal aftermarket tint could cause an accident or play a role in a car wreck. Excessively tinted windows and windshields significantly reduce a driver’s ability to see the road, traffic lights and signs, pedestrians, other vehicles, and more. Especially at night or during bad weather conditions.
Under Colorado law, by knowingly operating a vehicle with an illegal tint, a motorist is driving negligently. Negligence can have serious consequences if a car accident occurs.
Could Illegal Window Tint Affect a Car Accident Settlement Amount?
Colorado follows a modified comparative negligence system, meaning more than one party can be responsible for causing an accident. If it can be determined that a person’s dark window tint played a role in causing the crash, then the driver with the dark tint may be assigned partial fault in a car accident case.
For example, let’s say you have illegal tint on your car windows. You are driving and legally turn right at an intersection after stopping at a stop sign. While making the turn, you are struck by a speeding driver that ran a different stop sign in the same intersection. Typically, the car that ran the stop sign is at fault and would be legally liable for damages.
However, it could be argued that if you had properly tinted windows, you should have been able to see the speeding driver. And, subsequently refrained from making the turn. If the evidence proves this is the case, you (the driver with the dark aftermarket tint) may be found partially liable for the crash and would receive less compensation for damages caused by the wreck.
To learn more about compensation after a car collision, speak with an experienced auto accident attorney.