RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Illegal window tint landed a man in jail when what started as a regular traffic stop, ended in a drug arrest. Richmond Police say they found almost 130 grams of pot in Jamar Williams' car. Because he was pulled over for tinted windows, we wanted to know, what's the legal limit.
Every Richmond traffic officer has a tint meter that will calibrate window tint to make sure it is within those limits. And unlike not wearing your seat belt, illegal window tinting is a primary offense, one that can get you pulled over for testing.
At the R.P.M. Advanced Window Tint Company when it comes to your car, President Kyler Calera told us, "you name it, we do it."
When it comes to one of the most common requests for window tinting, Calera frequently has to tell his customers legally, there is such a thing as too dark.
"You're just going to get pulled over," he said. "You're giving them a reason to pull you over."
Virginia Code prohibits any tint on the front windshield except for the factory installed sun shield. On the front driver and passenger windows, the tint must let in at least 50% of light. And for all the rear windows, it must let in at least 35% of light.
Richmond Police told us the restrictions are there to make sure drivers can see out and officers can see in.
"The officer can't see inside the vehicle," said spokesperson James Mercante. "They can't know how many occupants are in the vehicle, especially at night. They don't know if any weapons are present."
The law allows some degree of darkness. Calera said that's because there are benefits to tint including partial elimination of UV Rays that damage car interiors and driver's skin.
"We can eliminate 45 to 80% of the heat from the car," he said. "So in turn you don't need your air conditioner as much. And you no longer feel like you're in a fish bowl. It gives you a little bit of privacy."
No matter how much you may want to "pimp your ride," Richmond Police say, "the message is clear that the windows should be clear."
Multi passenger vehicles have slightly different rules for the back windows. For those there are no restrictions on how dark you can make the tint.
The numbers may be confusing, so it's best to leave it to the professionals.