Traffic Tip Tuesday: Window tinting

Today’s Traffic Tip Tuesday article will cover the statutes that govern window tinting as it applies to citizens and businesses. The Farmington Police Department is often asked, “What danger is posed by having illegal tint/sun screening material on vehicles’ windows and windshields.” The answer is simply, reduced visibility. Reduced visibility for motorists, especially at night, and reduced visibility for pedestrians. Pedestrians rely on nonverbal communication (eye contact) with drivers to ensure they are observed when crossing roadways. At the current legal tint limit of twenty percent light transmission, the motorist’s visibility is already reduced by eighty percent. The city of Farmington has a large population of foot traffic. Within the last few years, there have been several major injury and fatal traffic crashes involving vehicles hitting pedestrians on the roadways.

One thing tint shops need to keep in mind is that many vehicle windows are coming from the manufacturers with built in tint already. When twenty percent tint is applied over these windows, the light transmission levels drop below twenty percent. Tinting shops often fail to comply with sections C and D of New Mexico State Statute 66-3-846.1 (see below). We recommend tint shop owners purchase tint meters to check tint levels prior to applying new tint. They can be purchased online from many different vendors for under $100 each.

66-3-846. Windshields must be unobstructed and equipped with wipers; windows must be transparent; exception.

A. No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon or in the front windshield, windows to the immediate right and left of the driver or in the rearmost window if the latter is used for driving visibility, except as provided in section 66-3-846.1 NMSA 1978. The rearmost window is not necessary for driving visibility where outside rearview mirrors are attached to the vehicle.

B. The windshield on every motor vehicle except a motorcycle shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield, which device shall be so constructed as to be controlled or operated by the driver of the vehicle.

C. Every windshield wiper upon a motor vehicle shall be maintained in good working order.

66-3-846.1 Sun screening material on windshields and windows; requirements; violation; penalty.

A. A person shall not operate on any street or highway a motor vehicle that is registered or required to be registered in this state if that motor vehicle has a sun screening material on the windshield or any window that does not comply with the requirements of this section.

B. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a sun screening material:

(1)   when used in conjunction with the windshield, shall be non-reflective, shall not be red, yellow or amber in color and shall be used only along the top of the windshield, not extending downward beyond the ASI line or more than five inches from the top of the windshield, whichever is closer to the top of the windshield; and

(2)   when used in conjunction with the safety glazing materials of the side wings or side windows located at the immediate right and left of the driver, the side windows behind the driver and the rearmost window shall be non-reflective, shall have a light transmission of not less than twenty percent and shall be used only on the windows of a motor vehicle equipped with one right and one left outside rearview mirror.

C. Each manufacturer shall:

(1)   certify to the division that a sun screening material used by that manufacturer is in compliance with the non-reflectivity and light transmission requirements of this section;

(2)   provide a label not to exceed one and one-half square inches in size that:

(a)   is installed permanently and legibly between the sun screening material and each glazing surface to which it is applied;

(b)   contains the manufacturer’s name, the date that the sun screening material was manufactured and the percentage of light transmission; and

(c)   is placed in the left lower corner of each glazing surface when facing the motor vehicle from the outside; and

(3)   include instructions with the sun screening material for proper installation, including the affixing of the label specified in this subsection.

D. No person shall:   

(1)   offer for sale or for use any sun screening material for motor vehicle use not in compliance with this section; or

(2)   install any sun screening material on motor vehicles intended for operation on any street or highway without permanently affixing the label specified in Subsection C of this section.

Karst, DavidSergeant Karst is a ten year veteran with the Farmington Police Department and the current Traffic Unit supervisor. Sgt. Karst previously spent three years in the Traffic Division as a DWI enforcement officer where he specialized in DWI and drug impaired driving detection and apprehension. In 2009, Sgt. Karst was awarded the MADD Everyday Heroes Award for making over 400 DWI arrests in three years. Sgt. Karst spent two years as a patrol corporal and two years as the supervisor of the Farmington Police Violent Gang Task Force where he specialized in highway narcotics interdiction. Sgt. Karst holds a masters degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University.