Volume 6, Issue 6, November - December 2002
An Overview of Film Laws Throughout the United States
by Penny Beverage
Many say the use of auto film will eventually fade completely due to the advent of new types of glass and to the legal restraints that continue to increase in the use of tints on car windows. For now, though, auto film usage continues strong—although there are many laws in place to regulate it.
(See November-December 2001 Window Film, page 14, for related
In September, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill, HB 2571, which would require 70-percent visible light transmission and a maximum of 15-percent reflectivity on front sidelites. It would also limit the reflectivity on rear backlites, but would not restrict visible light transmission. In addition, each window would need to be equipped with a label stating who manufactured the film and what the light transmission and reflectivity of each is. The bill currently is in debate in the Pennsylvania State Senate.
The state of Missouri issued a medical exemption for window film in May. The exemption, which is part of 11 CSM 30-7.010, section 307.173, will authorize people with particular medical conditions (authorized by prescriptions from physicians) to obtain permits to “operate motor vehicles with a front side wing vent or window that has a sun screening device that has a light transmission of less than 35 percent.”
The Missouri law became effective in May.
In addition, in February Missouri passed a law requiring 35-percent visible light transmission on front sidelites with a 3-percent tolerance. However, the law does not speak to (or restrict) the film used on the rear sidelites or backlite. Finally, the law says that law enforcement officers, rather than state inspection stations, will enforce the new regulations and that the Department of Public Safety will have to issue permits for medical exemptions.
In Utah, a law deleting the requirement for 28-percent visible light transmission on rear sidelites and backlites became effective in July. Therefore, as of July 1, there are no restrictions at all on the type of film that can be applied to the rear sidelites and backlites.
Earlier this year, Mississippi also considered legislation that would have:
• Deleted the requirement that the Department of Public Safety issue certificates and the manufacturers indicate labels to indicate that the film meets Mississippi requirements;
• Prohibited motor vehicle inspection stations from issuing a vehicle inspection certificate to any vehicle if the windows fail to meet the reflectance and light transmission standards;
• Directed that motor vehicles be tested for compliance only with specially manufactured cards approved by the Department of Public Safety; and
• Directed that the 35-percent light transmission standards and the 20-percent reflectance standards remain unchanged.
However, the bill died in early February and has not been replaced by any other bills thus far.
In addition to these developments just this year, a number of states have had legislation in place for several years regulating the use of window film on vehicles. (See sidebar below.)
The chart to the right is an overview of the film laws across the country, compiled by the International Window Film Association’s legislative committee.
Laws Across the United States
|% of Visible Light Transmission||% Reflectivity|
|State||Year||Type||F.Side (car)||B. Side (car)||B. Side (MPV)||Rear (car)||Rear (MPV)||F. Side||B. Side|
MBNR=Must be Non-Reflective
MNIR=Must Not Increase Reflectivity
NMM=No Metallic or Mirrored Appearance
None=No Reference to Reflectivity in the Current Law
Penny Beverage is the editor of Window Film magazine.
© Copyright 2002 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.