Q: Recently, I observed two drivers having a very tense confrontation in a crowded Pleasant Hill parking lot. One car had an extremely dark tinted windshield and windows. A gentleman walking near me said aloud exactly what I was thinking: “Hoping that driver isn’t holding weapons. Can’t see anyone or anything inside.”
Thankfully, one driver backed down and left. But I see more cars on Bay Area freeways and city streets with very dark windows, sometimes including dark windshields more often than before. I wonder how law enforcement feels if they have to approach these types of cars. Seems like added stress and, potentially, danger for them.
Shouldn’t occupants be visible to those outside the car? Or at the very minimum, shouldn’t the driver be visible? What is the law on tinted windows? How is it enforced?
Cate W., Benicia
A: Cops don’t like them, along with many others. Believe it or not, California laws on tinted windows are considered among the strictest in the nation. Yet, that hasn’t stopped repair shops and drivers from tinting glass beyond federal guidelines, which specify that light transmittance must be at least 70%.
Under no circumstance is tinted glass allowed on the windshield. It’s OK to have temporary shades on the window immediately to the driver’s left and the one on the right if you have a doctor’s note. Windows behind the driver can be as dark as you like.
Auto shop owners are not prosecuted for putting up tints that violate state standards, but drivers can be ticketed with a $25 fix-it fine.
But so many drivers think it’s cool and love the tinted look.
Q: I’m writing you as a cyclist to raise awareness among drivers who may have very courteous intentions. Frequently, cars will pause at stop signs as if waiting for me to go first.
I usually do not take the right of way because the tinted glass in their windows makes it difficult to see the driver inside. However, they can see me clearly. I would rather not make any assumptions about their intentions and avoid injury.
Mike Nalls, Campbell
A: Many bicyclists and pedestrians agree with you and hate tinted windows.
Q: Regarding Mrs. Roadshow being pulled over by San Jose police for expired registration tags: Is this an efficient use of an officer’s time? Considering all the crazy stuff you see driving around, and given what your readers report, many more serious violations could easily be flagged.
Tom Darby, San Jose
A: How about those drivers with cars with tinted windows?
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Author: Gary Richards