LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- With the heat of summer just around the corner, you might be thinking about tinting your car to keep it cool. But if you try to keep too cool, you might feel heat from the police.
During a walk through the parking lot of McCain Mall, Phil Rucker and Blake Vines were able to quickly spot a handful of cars whose windows were dark enough to break the law.
“That silver TrailBlazer right there,” Rucker mentioned, pointing at a truck in the distance, “you can always tell when it’s illegal because (the front tint) matches the back.”
Rucker and Vines work for D & D Sun Control, a company that provides tinting for cars, homes, and businesses. Aside from customers who want to make a new car darker, they get visits from people who purchase used cars.
Windows are a great way to let sunlight in and provide wonderful views. However, sometimes the light that’s let in can cause hot spots and fading.
“People will come by, not sure what they have on their car. You know, we have tint meters, so we’ll just roll the window down and see what the window meter is,” Rucker said. “And we’ll tell them if it’s legal, what their best options are for that, and go from there.”
Others choose to remove film they do not like.
“Because sometimes the legal limit is too dark for them,” Vines said, “so we have a 50 (percent tint) and an Air 80.”
For most cars in Arkansas, the legal limit is a tint of 25 percent or higher on the side windows and 10 percent on the back window. Windshields may also have a tinted “eyebrow” that extends no more than five inches from the top center of the windshield.
The percentage refers to the amount of light that can get through the film; the lower the number, the darker the tint. Extreme levels of tint are outlawed because they can interfere with a driver’s ability to see, especially at night.
Vines said many drivers prefer a dark tint because of the esthetic, for added privacy, and to keep the car cooler.
“Since you can’t legally have the windshield tinted, that lets in a lot of heat,” Rucker added, “but typically, depending on the interior type and the color of the car, about 15 or 20 degrees cooler than an untinted car.”
Under Arkansas state law, driving with illegally tinted windows, or installing them, is a Class B misdemeanor, so the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. Trucks, busses, and commercial vehicles are allowed to have 10 percent tint on their rear side windows, as well as the back window.
Drivers may also get a partial exception with a doctor’s note if they have a disorder that makes them especially sensitive to sunlight.
Each state has its own law about how much tinting is acceptable, and while many drivers look to take advantage of those laws, Rucker said many others are unaware of potential problems.
“Some people just have completely no idea if there’s window tint on it at all. Some people are, you know, well-versed in it. They come in knowing exactly what they want,” Rucker said.