CALUMET - It may seem stylish or a good way to reduce glare into a vehicle, but tinted windows violate Michigan law, and the Michigan State Police are making a concentrated effort to stop vehicles with tinted windows.
Sgt. Jason Wickstrom of the Michigan State Police Calumet post, said the law against tinted windows, which has been on the books for decades, is primarily for safety.
"It's an officer safety concern," he said. "We've had officers shot because they couldn't see inside."
There is also a traffic-safety issue, Wickstrom said. When it's dark outside, it's more difficult for a driver to see what's happening on the road.
Wickstrom said tinted windows could possibly obscure illegal activities in vehicles, also.
"You don't know what's going on inside," he said.
The law against window tinting applies only to vehicles registered in Michigan, Wickstrom said. He added there are businesses which install window tinting, either knowingly violating the law, or because they're unaware of it.
There are some degrees of exception for the law, Wickstrom said. Tinting is allowed for the top 4 inches on a windshield. There is a medical exemption for vision reasons for full tinting, also.
"Some people may be sensitive to light," he said.
However, to get the medical exemption, Wickstrom said a vehicle owner must take a form from a doctor indicating a medical issue to a Secretary of State office. After verification of the vision problem, a sticker will be placed on the driver's license of the person requesting the exemption.
Wickstrom said rear and back seat windows may be tinted as long as the tinting isn't of the mirror variety, and the vehicle has two side-view mirrors.
Violation of the tinting law is a civil infraction, Wickstrom said. An officer can either issue a ticket for $115 or give what is called a "fix it" ticket.
"We'll tell people you can remove the tint completely or remove to the 4 inches (on the windshield)," he said.
After corrective action is taken, Wickstrom said the owner can take the vehicle to any law enforcement officer, who after checking that proper removal was done, will dismiss the ticket.
Wickstrom said the MSP is strengthening its enforcement of the window tint law now because in the past two years or so, for whatever reason, there's been a significant increase in the number of vehicles on Michigan roads with window tinting.
"At some point, you have to start enforcing the law," he said.