Tinted Windows: Pulled Over for Tinted Windows: What’s My Defence?

Update: see previous post – January 16, 2010 Tinting Motor Vehicle Windows

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Police take a dim view of drivers who tint the front windows of their vehicle. Shtterstock

Eric Lai answers readers’ auto questions every week for Wheels.

Q: My boyfriend was pulled over for having tint on his front windows. I was wondering how many demerit points would be received for that, and if there’s anything he can do to decrease his number of demerit points?

A: Stephen Parker of Pointts (www.pointts.com), a traffic ticket fighting paralegal firm, replies:

Section 73 of the Highway Traffic Act states:

Colour coating obstructing view prohibited

(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway where the surface of the windshield or of any window of the vehicle has been coated with any colour spray or other colour coating in such a manner as to obstruct the driver’s view of the highway or any intersecting highway. (“Drive with window/windshield coated – view obstructed.”)

(3) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle on which the surface of the windshield or of any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat has been coated with any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle. (“Colour coating obscuring interior.”)

More: Can I be ticketed for modifying my car?

More: 10 things not to do to your car

Neither charge carries any demerit points as it is part of the equipment rules and not a moving violation.

A defence may be possible depending on whether the charge was laid under S. 73(2) or S. 73(3). If it’s under subsection 2, then the time of day may play a part in whether the charge can be proven.

Contrary to popular belief, the numerical percentage of the tint is not relevant (i.e. amount of light transmission). But, rather, it’s the (relative) amount of visibility from either inside the vehicle to the outside or from the outside to the inside that is in question.

It is, therefore, highly subjective as to whether an offence has been committed and, ironically, the subjective opinion of the charging officer (which resulted in the charge being laid) could also be the foundation of a defence to the charge.

Subjective opinion is almost impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly if evidence to the contrary is presented at court.

Eric Lai adds:

Basically, for officer safety, police take a dim view (no pun intended) if you tint the front windows of your vehicle so they cannot clearly see your hands during a traffic stop.

In general, having experienced, professional representation in court to present reasoned defence arguments on your behalf would, in most cases, offer you the best chance for success – particularly if you’re not a good public speaker. However, on a minor charge like this without demerit points it’s ultimately your decision as to whether or not you feel the cost is justified.

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3 comments

  1. Hello. This is a great website, very helpful. I would like to share my experience. I was pulled over for tinted windows on June 19, 2012 in Saskatoon. I did not know why I was being pulled over and already had my window rolled down for the officer before he approached my car. He told me to roll up my window, and not knowing why I asked if I had to do this. He then took a step back and said that I had to follow the order of a police officer; if I did not I would be subject to arrest. And so under this duress I rolled up the window and got an offence notice/fine for tinted window and an inspection ticket to have it removed. I sent the ticket in and recieved my trial date notice for May 21, 2013! I intend to fight this and it looks like I will have to try a charter challenge on section 11 for not being tried in a reasonable period for such a minor offence. Thanks to your site I now know this. However I contacted the court to get information on the delay time from date of charge to trial date for the various traffic courts in the province. They replied that such information is not collected and is not available. I wanted to use this in the charter argument on a comparative basis to substantiate the challenge for prolonged time period. It would be nice if somewhere on your site there were links to places to obtain this information. I cannot believe that it is not available. Thanks again for a great website! Take care.

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