Home » Let’s Make New Hampshire’s Automotive Tint Laws Less Draconian

Let’s Make New Hampshire’s Automotive Tint Laws Less Draconian

New Hampshire RSA 265:95 forbids any aftermarket tint on the driver or passenger side windows. The law is primarily enforced during the yearly inspection and will cause a vehicle to fail the safety inspection.

States have progressively been moving to allow aftermarket tint on windows. In 1993, sixteen states did not allow any tint on these front-side windows. Now, only four states have this restriction. New Hampshire is one of the holdouts. The other states are Vermont, Michigan, and New Jersey. In NH, only the rear windows are allowed to be tinted, with the restriction that at least 35% of light must enter the vehicle. The front-side windows are not allowed to be tinted at all, other than what’s supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. In the 32 other states, tinting to 35% or darker is allowed on these front-side windows.

I proposed HB317 so New Hampshire can join 32 other states in allowing 35% tinting on the front-side windows. Legislators have introduced bills like this for years in NH, and they always seem to get voted down, but why?

The State Police usually present three reasons which give legislators pause. First, is that not being able to see into the vehicle presents a danger to the traffic officer. Second, the aftermarket tint film makes the window harder to break in the case of an emergency. The film on the outside of the glass holds the pieces together while the factory tint is located in the center of the glass, is thinner, and breaks easier. Finally, they say that it is dangerous because window tint might hinder nonverbal communication between drivers and other people on the road.

The biggest hurdle to overcome may be the claim that window tint puts the lives of officers in danger, and legislators do not want to take that chance. However, this claim seems to be based on anecdotal evidence and not hard data.

I tried to quantify the danger to officers from not being able to see into a vehicle to determine whether or not the claim could be substantiated with hard facts. I acquired information about every officer death from 1993-2017 and limited the data to traffic stops. What jumped out at me was that during traffic stops, the danger from the passing vehicles was, by far, the most significant threat to the officer.

After breaking the deaths down by state and cross-referencing when the 12 states began allowing tint, I found no correlation of officer deaths. In fact, I found 12 other states that had not had a single officer death during a traffic stop, once I removed any danger from outside the vehicle from the numbers. It could be that dark tink increases stress on an officer, which could turn into a dangerous situation for the vehicle occupants involved in a traffic stop. But, the numbers I found did not indicate a decrease in officer safety due to threats coming from inside the vehicle. Besides, cars from states that allow the front-side windows to be tinted can still visit New Hampshire, so officers need to be able to handle that situation whether our state allows front-side tinted windows or not.

If it’s true that aftermarket window tinting slows down the removal of vehicle occupants in an emergency, then that’s a risk the owner should be able to take. Life is full of risks. Outlawing the acceptance of that risk is government overreach.

Finally, with regards to non-verbal communication at stop signs, the committee tried to address that concern with an amendment that increased the required light transmittance for the front-side windows to 70%. This is a very light tinting in which a person is still quite visible. Tinting to 35% would only make a person’s outline visible, depending on the light. Since hand waving is the most common nonverbal communication, I believe this concern could be addressed with either tinting option, which is better than none at all.

My hope is that, with passage of HB317, NH can finally increase window tinting options for consumers, as seems to be the trend in the rest of the country. While the bill doesn’t allow as many options as I would like, I think it has the best chance to make it legal for residents to install less expensive, aftermarket tinting. Why should we have to buy very expensive, factory-made tinted glass in order to have a much cooler ride?

8 comments

  1. Cory Swinerton says:

    I agree 100%. This law is absolutely useless. 35% to the sides of driver I would agree with. It’s functional, safer for driving, and keep the interior cooler.

  2. Josh says:

    Legislators concerned for law enforcement officials for not being able to see into vehicle. What about the cars that have factory tint on rear windows. A passenger sitting in backseat could be just as big of a risk for officers as the driver is, therefore that’s not really an arguement.

  3. tint saves says:

    At 35% tint, you’re still visible from the outside, and during night an officer’s shining his light to the windows makes the interior very visible even with 35%, especially with 35%…
    The fact that the windows is harder to break during an accident or a robbery is better for the owner, making him and his vehicle safer.
    I’ve never ever heard that emergency services have any trouble with window films, or even security films.
    BTW, in Europe it’s legal to tint the whole windshield at 75% and front side windows to 70%, the rears can get any %.
    You can obviously get security films for all the windows, so the claims of the police here are blatant lies.
    Here’s the tint laws: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/1992/22/oj
    9.1.4.1.

    The regular transmission measured in accordance with item 9.1.2 shall not, in the case of windscreeens, be less than 75 % and, in the case of windows other than windscreens, shall not be less than 70 %.

    9.1.4.2.

    In the case of windows situated at points which are not essential to the driver’s field of vision (glazed roof, for example), the regular transmission factor of the light from the pane may be less than 70 %.

  4. PzMeyer says:

    Live Free or Die!??? Laughable if not so yet infuriating. Still NH in many ways is still as authoritarian and opportunistic as some heavy blue states. This stupid prohibition is but one. But the wasteful and irritating yearly vehicle inspection and absurd yearly vehicle registration charges, topped yet by ridiculously high property taxes, is enough to rally for another revolution. ‘Spirit of 2020!’

  5. Eric says:

    Officer safety. Right… how about they stop pulling citizens over and collecting money for the state. Wreckless driving…extreme speeds sure. Otherwise leave us alone and allow is 5o really “live free or die”. The tint will make vehicles safer. No shattered glass in our faces in an accident. Very little chance of smash and grab thefts. Extremely reduced chance of car hackings from smashing a side window. Tint of course reduces the temp in the car and suns damage to the interior. All pluses for the car/trucks owner. 35% should be allowed. There is no evidence … as noted in the article… that officers lives are in danger from tint.

  6. Tony says:

    Any progress with this? It’s sad that this continues to get shut down N.H. needs to make a change in the tint laws.

  7. Donald Freeman says:

    I have an actual eye condition where the sun really hurts my eyes and I have been going through hoops for years to try to get a waiver and have yet to come up unsuccessful

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