Window Tinting Basics


  • Car window tinting laws in South Carolina were enacted in 1992.

  • What is "window tinting" when it comes to cars, trucks, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles? In practical terms, “window tinting" refers to methods that prevent certain levels of light from passing through the safety glass -- meaning the windshield, side windows, and rear window of a vehicle.
  • The safety glass on most new cars and passenger vehicles has been coated or treated so that some degree of window tinting is in place, to keep out harmful ultra-violet (UV) rays. This tinting is done during the manufacturing process, and is almost always in compliance with federal and state window tinting laws and regulations.
  • But window tinting can also be done after a vehicle has been manufactured and sold (or "after-market," in the vernacular). And it is when these modifications are made -- often by a private "customizing" company or by the vehicle's owner him/herself -- that window tint laws are most often violated.

Window Tint Laws

  • Vehicle window tinting is almost always regulated under state law, and the applicable statutes can usually be found in a state's vehicle or traffic code. 

  • Typically, a primary reason a vehicle is stopped for a window tint-related traffic violation, in order to qualify for the medical exemption and avoid a citation, the affected driver or passenger must present the law enforcement officer with documentation that: Identifies the medical necessity (this can be a prescription or detailed letter from a medical professional);
  • States the specific amount of sunlight exposure (i.e. minimum percentage of light transmittance reduction) that will satisfy the medical needs of the affected driver or passenger;
  • Contains a prescription expiration date or permit duration;
  • Identifies the specific vehicle(s) to which the "medical necessity" window tint exemption applies.