Vehicle window tinting back on track

Friday, March 15, 2002

New law in effect

By Jim Obert

Business Today

After almost six months, Missouri motorists can once more have dark tints on the rear windows of their vehicles. And for the first time, lighter tints are legal on driver- and passenger-side windows without a doctor's okay.

On Feb. 14, Gov. Bob Holden signed legislation crafted to correct a law that took effect last Aug. 28. That law allowed tinting that blocks 65 percent of the light on all vehicle windows except the windshield. However, vehicles that already had darker rear windows were suddenly declared illegal, even if the tint had been factory installed.

Many motorists, much to their chagrin, had their vehicles red-flagged at inspection stations. They had to choose between driving illegally or paying to have the dark tint removed, and for even more expense, having a lighter tint applied.

The latest law corrects the 2001 decree that caused some drivers to expend hundreds of dollars in order to pass state inspections.

"I regret the difficulties and expense Missourians have suffered because of last year's legislative action," said Holden in a press release.

The tinting provision was part of a last-minute bill passed in May to deal with transportation issues.

The corrective measure was the first bill to become law this legislative session. Although there was a special legislative session late last year, the issue was not addressed.

Stan Peeler, owner of Solar Control, a Cape-Girardeau-based business that does automotive, commercial and residential window tinting, said he removed a lot of illegal tint on vehicles while the former law was in effect.

"I got lots of calls about the law, and I had a lot of former customers come in to have the dark tint removed," said Peeler, adding that he bought a special steamer to help with the increased workload.

Peeler said it takes an average of three hours to remove tint from rear windows. He said that usually the older the tint the harder it is to get off.

"You have to be careful not to damage rear-window defrosters," said Peeler. "That law made a lot of people unhappy."

Peeler said some people opted to have dark tint, which comes in the popular shades called 50 percent and limousine, replaced with 35 percent tint.

"We've always used 35 percent tint, but while that law was in effect I had to order more," he said.

The new law also removes window tinting from the vehicle inspection process. Enforcement of the tinting law is now left only to police. Some state Highway Patrol officers have equipment designed for a preliminary reading of a window's tint, but a test that could prevail in court would have to be done at the patrol's regional headquarters, according to patrol spokesman Capt. Chris Ricks.

Drivers whose vehicles violate the tinting law could be fined up to $300.

PIC -- Stan Peeler, owner of Solar Control in Cape Girardeau, applies 35 percent tint to the passenger-side window of a vehicle. A new law allows tinting of driver- and passenger-side windows. The tint blocks 65 percent of light. BT/Jim Obert

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