Why is even lighter tint illegal? Why are the laws different in different provinces? ? It makes no sense. — Warren, Didsbury, Alta.
Alberta’s one of five provinces where there’s no tinted love. It says they’re doing it to keep you safe in a crash.
“The front side windows on a vehicle are designed to shatter into small pieces the size of a fingernail upon impact,” says Alberta Transportation spokesman Bob McManus in an email. “If you apply film over top of that glass it will not shatter correctly and will laminate into large sharp projectiles that can injure someone in the event of a collision.”
Ottawa makes the safety rules for new cars. The federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act regulates the level of factory tint on the windshield and other windows — a minimum of 70 per cent of light can pass through the glass.
But, generally, the provinces regulate what you do with your car once you get it — how you drive it and any aftermarket changes you make.
Where they can’t take a tint
No provinces let you put aftermarket tinting on your windshield.
In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, it's illegal to have any tint at all on driver and passenger side windows.
The fines vary. For example, if police catch you with dark front windows in B.C., you’ll get a $109 fine and an order to get the film removed. If you don’t get it removed and they catch you again, it’s a $595 fine. In Alberta, it’s $115. In Nova Scotia, it’s $227.
In the other provinces, there’s a maximum allowable tint for the front three windows — and police measure it with a photometer.
For example, in Quebec, windows have to let at least 70 per cent of light through. It’s the same in New Brunswick. In Manitoba, it’s 50 per cent.
Where the rules are hazy
In Ontario and Newfoundland, the law doesn’t specify a specific percentage of tint.
Instead, it says you have to be able to see other drivers and pedestrians — and they have to be able to see you. It’s up to police to decide whether that’s the case.
“If a police officer feels it is too dark to clearly see the driver, police may issue a ticket,” says Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesman Ajay Woozageer in an email. “If necessary, they may then have to substantiate the charge in court. “
So, in Ontario, if police can’t see your face, you could face a fine between $110 and $500, the MTO says.
“I don’t really have an answer as to why that is, but it’s the law,” says Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, with the Ontario Provincial Police highway safety division. “We have to be able to see who’s in the front seat.”
With a few exceptions, the tinting laws apply only to front windows. For example, in Manitoba, rear passenger windows have to let 35 per cent of light through. In most provinces, including Ontario, there are no darkness limits for rear windows.
“They can be completely dark,” Schmidt says.
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