Volume 6, Issue 6, November - December 2002

Legal Matters
    An Overview of Film Laws Throughout the United States

by Penny Beverage

Many say the use of auto film will eventually fade completely due to the advent of new types of glass and to the legal restraints that continue to increase in the use of tints on car windows. For now, though, auto film usage continues strong—although there are many laws in place to regulate it. (See November-December 2001 Window Film, page 14, for related story.)

In September, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill, HB 2571, which would require 70-percent visible light transmission and a maximum of 15-percent reflectivity on front sidelites. It would also limit the reflectivity on rear backlites, but would not restrict visible light transmission. In addition, each window would need to be equipped with a label stating who manufactured the film and what the light transmission and reflectivity of each is. The bill currently is in debate in the Pennsylvania State Senate.

The state of Missouri issued a medical exemption for window film in May. The exemption, which is part of 11 CSM 30-7.010, section 307.173, will authorize people with particular medical conditions (authorized by prescriptions from physicians) to obtain permits to “operate motor vehicles with a front side wing vent or window that has a sun screening device that has a light transmission of less than 35 percent.”

The Missouri law became effective in May.

In addition, in February Missouri passed a law requiring 35-percent visible light transmission on front sidelites with a 3-percent tolerance. However, the law does not speak to (or restrict) the film used on the rear sidelites or backlite. Finally, the law says that law enforcement officers, rather than state inspection stations, will enforce the new regulations and that the Department of Public Safety will have to issue permits for medical exemptions.

In Utah, a law deleting the requirement for 28-percent visible light transmission on rear sidelites and backlites became effective in July. Therefore, as of July 1, there are no restrictions at all on the type of film that can be applied to the rear sidelites and backlites.
Earlier this year, Mississippi also considered legislation that would have: 

• Deleted the requirement that the Department of Public Safety issue certificates and the manufacturers indicate labels to indicate that the film meets Mississippi requirements; 

• Prohibited motor vehicle inspection stations from issuing a vehicle inspection certificate to any vehicle if the windows fail to meet the reflectance and light transmission standards; 

• Directed that motor vehicles be tested for compliance only with specially manufactured cards approved by the Department of Public Safety; and 

• Directed that the 35-percent light transmission standards and the 20-percent reflectance standards remain unchanged. 

However, the bill died in early February and has not been replaced by any other bills thus far.
In addition to these developments just this year, a number of states have had legislation in place for several years regulating the use of window film on vehicles. (See sidebar below.) 


The chart to the right is an overview of the film laws across the country, compiled by the International Window Film Association’s legislative committee.

Laws Across the United States

% of Visible Light Transmission % Reflectivity
State Year  Type F.Side (car) B. Side (car) B. Side (MPV) Rear (car) Rear (MPV) F. Side B. Side
AL '96 Net 32 32 Any 32 Any 20 20
AK '94 Net No 37 No 37 No NR NR
AZ '94 Net 33 Any Any Any Any 35 35
CA '98? Net 70 Any Any Any Any MNIR MNIR
CO '88 Net No Any Any Any Any NR NR
CN '94 Net 35 35 Any  Any  Any 21 27
DE '92 Net 70 Any  Any Any Any NR NR
FL '91 Net 28 15 6 15 0? 25 35
GA '89 Net 32 32 Any 32 Any 20 20
HI '89 Net 29 29 Any  28? Any NR NR
IA '83 Net 70 Any Any Any Any NE NE
ID '92 Net 35 20 Any 35 Any 35 35
IL  '89 Net  No Any Any Any Any MBNR MBNR
IN '95 Vague 30 30 Vague 30 Vague 25 25
KS '87 Net 35 35 35 35 35 MB MB
KY '88 Film 35 18 8 18 8 25 25
LA '93  Net 40 25 Any 12 Any 20 20
MA '85 Net 35 35 35 35 35 35 35
ME '89 Film 50 50 Any 50  Any MBNR MBNR
MD '95 Net 35 35 Any 35 Any  None None
MI '81 Net 40 Any Any Any Any 35 35
MN '85 Vague 50 50 50 50 50 20 20
MO '02 Net 35 Any Any Any Any 35 35
MS '88 Net 35 35 35 35 35 20 20
MT '91 Film 35 20 Any 20 Any  35 35
NC '01 Net 35 35 Any 35 Any 20 20
ND '89 Net No Any Any Any Any NR NR
NV '94 Vague 35 20 35 20 35 35 35
NH '90 Net No 35 Any  35 Any NR NR
NJ '00 Net No Any  Any Any Any NMM NMM
NM '97 Net 20 20 Any 20 Any None None
NY '91 Net 70 70 Any Any Any NR NR
OH '88 Net 50 50 50 50 50 MNIR MNIR
OK '95 Net 25 25 Any  25 Any 25 25
OR '95 Net 70 70 Any 70 Any  NR NR
PA '99 Net 70 70 Any 70 Any NR NR
RI '00 Net 70 70 Any 70 Any None None
SC '92 Net 27 27 Any* 27 Any MBNR MBNR
SD '80 Net 35 20 NR NR NR NR NR
TN '89 Net 35 45 Any 35 Any NR NR
TX '87 Film  35 35 Any Any Any 35 35
UT '94  Net 43 Any Any Any Any NMM NMM
VT '89 Net No Any Any Any Any NR NR
VA '93 Net 50 35 Any 35 Any 20 20
WA '93 Film 35 35 Any 35 Any 35 35
WI '96 Net 50 35 35 35 35 None None
WV '91 Net 35 35 Any 35 Any 20 20
WY '96 Net 28 28 Any 28 Any 20 20

Key:
NR=Not Regulated
NE=Not Excessive
MBNR=Must be Non-Reflective
MNIR=Must Not Increase Reflectivity
NMM=No Metallic or Mirrored Appearance
None=No Reference to Reflectivity in the Current Law



Penny Beverage
is the editor of Window Film magazine.


WINDOW FILM

© Copyright 2002 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.