Texas Window Tint Laws: What You Need to Know

Window Tint Austin

Window tinting offers many benefits for your vehicle, from reducing glare and heat to providing added privacy and security. However, it’s important to be aware of and comply with our state’s window tint laws to avoid fines and other penalties. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Texas window tint laws, including allowable tint levels for your windshield, front windows, rear windows and whether colored tints are permitted.

Windshield Tint Laws in Texas

When it comes to tinting your vehicle’s windshield in Texas, the law allows for a non-reflective tint strip to be applied at the top of the windshield. This tint strip cannot extend more than 5 inches from the top of the windshield or beyond the AS-1 line, whichever is longer. The AS-1 line is found on most motor vehicle windshields and is clearly marked by the manufacturer.

In the Lone Star State, the law requires that the front windshield glass allows at least 70% of outside light to pass through and enter the vehicle. This means the windshield must have a visible light transmission (VLT) of 70% or higher. VLT is the percentage of visible light that passes through the window film and glass to reach the inside of the vehicle. The higher the VLT%, the more light passes through, so a legal 70% VLT windshield tint is actually quite light.

It’s important to note that Texas tint law makes no distinction between the percent of light transmission allowed through the as-1 strip tint and does not require this tint to let through a certain minimum visible light transmission (VLT). Just remember, aside from the top 5 inches, no other windshield tint is allowed for Texas vehicles.

Legal Front Window Tint in Texas

For the front side windows of sedans, SUVs, vans and trucks in Texas, the legal tint limit is 25% VLT. This means the front side windows must allow at least 25% of outside light to pass through the tint and into the vehicle. Tint manufacturers label their films with the percentage of light they transmit (ie: “25% tint”).

Keep in mind, factory-tinted windows from the manufacturer do count toward this 25% tint limit. If your front windows already have a slight factory tint from the manufacturer that transmits 75% of light, you can only add an additional film layer up to 35% VLT on top of that to reach the 25% limit (75% factory tint x 35% film tint = 26% VLT total).

Legal Back Window Tint in Texas

Compared to the front side windows, Texas allows a much darker tint on the rear side windows and back window of your vehicle. Texas window tint law permits any darkness on the rear side and back windows, with no minimum visible light transmission percentage required.

This means you can opt for a very dark “limo tint” on your rear side windows and back window if desired, even a 5% VLT tint that appears almost pitch black. The back and rear side windows can be fully blacked out in Texas and still be legal.

However, if your back window is tinted, Texas law requires that the vehicle have dual side mirrors to ensure safe visibility when backing up or changing lanes. As long as you have side mirrors on both sides, feel free to tint your rear windows as dark as you would like.

Is Colored Tint Legal in Texas?

Colored and reflective window tints are popular for stylistic reasons, but are they legal in Texas? Unfortunately, no. Texas tint laws clearly prohibit red, amber, blue or any other color tint on the windshield tint strip or the front side windows. Only colorless, neutral tint is allowed.

Some colors like yellow, gold, gray, and green can still be considered “neutral” if they do not change the color of things when looking through the tint, so those may be permitted. But any tint on the front side windows or windshield strip that alters the visible color is illegal under Texas statutes. Stick to a traditional charcoal or neutral tint on the front windows to avoid issues.

Additionally, Texas law prohibits any aftermarket mirrored or reflective window tint that reflects light or makes the windows appear silver or metallic. Avoid any reflective film when tinting your vehicle windows in Texas.

For the back side windows and rear window, Texas law does not explicitly prohibit colored or reflective tint. Since there is no specification in the tint statute regarding allowable colors or reflectance on rear windows, presumably some color tints may be allowed in the back. However, it’s still advisable to check with your local law enforcement before getting a colored or reflective tint on your rear windows. Some officers may still take issue with it and write you a ticket if the color or reflectivity is excessive in their judgment, even if the law does not explicitly forbid it.

Exceptions to Texas Window Tint Laws

Texas tint laws do allow for special tint exemptions to go below the standard limits if the driver or a passenger in the vehicle has a medical condition that requires reduced light transmission for health reasons. Some medical issues like lupus, photosensitivity, melanoma, and certain genetic conditions can make people extremely sensitive to light exposure.

If you have a qualifying medical issue, you can obtain a signed exemption certificate from the Texas Department of Public Safety that allows you to tint the vehicle windows below the standard legal limits as needed for your medical condition. Typically the state will allow tint down to 25% VLT on all windows, including the front sides, rear sides, back and windshield for medical exemptions.

The special tint medical exemption certificate must be kept in the vehicle at all times, and must be presented to law enforcement if pulled over regarding the tint to avoid a ticket. The medical exemption is valid for up to 5 years and can be renewed with medical documentation.

For these reasons, it’s always best to comply with Texas tint laws from the start to avoid legal trouble down the road. Make sure your tint shop is aware of and strictly follows the legal limits for your vehicle.

Choosing a Reputable Tint Shop

If you want to get your vehicle windows tinted, be sure to choose a reputable tint shop that has experience and will stand behind their work. While you can find DIY tint kits, it’s recommended to have a professional with the proper tools and training apply your window tint.

A quality tint shop will use automotive-grade tint film from established brands that offer warranties on the product. Low-grade films can fade, peel, crack, turn purple or bubble over time. Quality tint film, when properly applied, can last the life of the vehicle without deteriorating.

Conclusion

Window tint offers many functional and aesthetic benefits for your vehicle, but make sure you stay compliant with Texas tint laws when getting your windows done. Limit your front side window tint to 25% VLT, only apply a tint strip to the top 5 inches of your windshield, and ensure you have dual side mirrors if tinting your back windows. Avoid colors or reflective tints on the front sides and windshield. Choose a reputable tint shop and you can enjoy a quality tint job that looks great, performs well, and keeps you on the right side of Texas law. Remember, tint smart and drive safe!

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