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Behind-the-Wheel

Tinted: to see or not see

One of my preferred enforcement practices was to use an unmarked car and drive in the right hand lane at or just under the speed limit.

This gave me plenty of time to look at and into whatever passed on my left.

Vehicle defects, failing to wear a seatbelt, distracted driving and other things of interest to a traffic cop were often easily discovered.

I recall doing this once on a cold and rainy afternoon. A car passed me with both the front side windows rolled down completely and both front seat occupants staring resolutely ahead.

Why do you think they were willing to get wet as they pretended not to see me?

As you have probably guessed, it was illegally tinted front side windows.

Vehicle owners who do this are surprisingly resistant to following the law.

7.05 (8) No person shall drive or operate on a highway a motor vehicle which has affixed to or placed on the windshield or a window any material that reduces the light transmitted through the windshield or window unless the material is affixed to or placed on:

  • the windshield but not more than 75 mm below the top of the windshield,
  • a side window that is behind the driver, or
  • the rear window if the motor vehicle is equipped with outside rear view mirrors on the left and right side of the motor vehicle.

(9) If a motor vehicle contains manufactured glass, tinting contained within the glass must meet the minimum light transmittancy requirements under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

In my experience, virtually all Notice & Order No. 3s were ignored. Ditto the offer to cancel a traffic ticket if the tint was removed and the vehicle presented for inspection. Sometimes it took multiple tickets and Notice & Order No. 2s to correct the issue.

I know of one business that actually told its customers that if they were stopped by the police, they could come back, have the tint removed, present the vehicle for inspection and then have the tint put back on.

Once. Free of charge.

222 : A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

You could even find vehicles with illegal tint being displayed for sale at businesses.

8.01  No person who is engaged in the business of selling motor vehicles shall keep for sale, or sell or offer for sale, any new or used motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped as required by these regulations.

Some drivers tried to convince me, even producing a doctor's note, that they had health or vision issues that required the tint.

I could understand this for people who suffered from cutaneous porphyria, but only RoadSafetyBC can grant an exemption from these rules and they will not do so.

Why bother enforcing these rules? The information that we need to drive is predominantly visual:

Tint prevents other road users from making eye contact with the driver

Impairment of the driver's ability to identify and react to a low contrast target, particularly among older drivers

Tint remains in place at night and during times of impaired visibility  So, to see or not to see.

Why would you limit your ability to drive safely on purpose?

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/see-or-not-see-tinted-windows

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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