Walker Law




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Tennessee Window Tint Law (in a nutshell)

Police Officers are pulling people over day and night for window tint violations. The common illegal tint is 20% and is apparent to most officers just by looking compared to the legal 35% light transmittance which appears much lighter. Most window tint installers will put the T.C.A. compliant sticker in the bottom corner of the driver's side window if it is compliant with Tennessee Law which is 35% or more light transmittance. Some people who have legal tint installed over the factory tint are in violation of the window tint law.

Having dark window tint is suspicious to the police and a common way for citizens to give the police probable cause to stop their vehicle. The burden is on the owner of the vehicle to show proof that the tint is in compliance with the law. Have your receipt for the legal tint installation in the glovebox and on the ready to minimize the time of interaction with the officer. If your vehicle is registered in another state please call me as soon as possible.

If you are not sure if your tint is compliant with Tennessee law, drop by the office and we will perform a free window tint test using a certified device which allows us an accurate reading of your tint within +/- 3% to give you piece of mind and let you know if your tint is legal.

The window tint law in Tennessee is covered under Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-9-107. Motor vehicle windows with tinting, reflecting or sun screen material. —
(a) (1) It is unlawful for any person to operate, upon a public highway, street or road, any motor vehicle in which any window that has a visible light transmittance
(A) of less than thirty-five percent (35%); or
(B) With the exception of the manufacturer's standard installed shade band, reduces the visible light transmittance in the windshield below seventy percent (70%).
(5) The owner of any vehicle in question has the burden of proof that the motor vehicle is in compliance with this section.
(c) It is probable cause for a full-time, salaried police officer of this state to detain a motor vehicle being operated on the public roads, streets or highways of this state when the officer has a reasonable belief that the motor vehicle is in violation of subdivision (a)(1), for the purpose of conducting a field comparison test.
(d) It is a Class C misdemeanor for the operator of a motor vehicle to refuse to submit to the field comparison test when directed to do so by a full-time, salaried police officer, or for any person to otherwise violate any provisions of this section.
(e) The commissioner of safety shall establish a standardized method and procedure by which law enforcement officers can readily, and with reasonable accuracy, conduct a field comparison test to determine if a motor vehicle's windows are in compliance with this section.

17 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Tracy | September 23, 2011 at 10:20 PM EDT

I was pulled over by a State Trooper today for my tinted windows. Less then a month ago the same trooper pulled me over because I fogot to get my tags. At that time he saw my windows and said nothing about them. II bought the car about 6 months ago and I asked the person I was buying it from if the windows were legal and he stated they were. I was woundering were I can get them tested in my area. I live in East Tennesee in Cocke county.

2. ADMIN | November 02, 2011 at 11:35 PM EDT


Unfortunately, the officer can stop you for tint whenever he/she wants to. Maybe the officer didn't mention the tint because he already had probable cause to stop you for the expired tags, and either didn't notice the tint or didn't want to address the tint on that particular occasion. However, your vehicle should have a sticker in between the tint and the glass that certifies the tint installer has installed law abiding film on your windows. You can go to a window tint shop and ask if they can check the light transmittance either using electronic equipment or film comparison field charts. You can also contact the person who sold you the car and ask them where the tint job was done and if it is legal. Dealerships also may have window tint comparison charts.

3. eddie | February 08, 2013 at 04:15 PM EST

deputy checked mine at 35% and gave me a warning ticket.is 35% legal in tennessee?

i was stopped at 2:00am on a dark cloudy night in drizzling rain on a rural country road.almost made me late for work.this guy must have superman vision.he checked it at 35%.

4. Billy | March 18, 2013 at 09:54 PM EDT

I was just curious. The law reads \" It is probable cause for a full-time, salaried police officer of this state to detain a motor vehicle being operated on the public roads, streets or highways of this state when the officer has a reasonable belief that the motor vehicle is in violation of subdivision (a)(1), for the purpose of conducting a field comparison test\".

So is it safe to say then that a part-time police officer or a reserve officer that does not receive compensation can not pull a person over and enforce this law?

5. Clifford | March 28, 2013 at 09:22 PM EDT

Is 14 % tint legal in Memphis, Tennessee?

6. Becky | May 14, 2013 at 09:55 AM EDT

What about rear windows and side windows that are not rolled up or down. Side back windows pop open. Does the 35% apply to all windows in the car? I heard that the drivers side and passenger windows had to comply but the back windows didn't necessarily have to..

7. Melissia | May 21, 2013 at 03:18 PM EDT

I got pulled over because of a temp tag being put in the back winshield by an auto dealer when now the law says it must be where the actual tag goes. that of course was a nonissue as soon as my real tag came in. he also said my tint was 15% over. factory tint sticker says \"DOT\" 18 and then more tint was installed and it says TCA law 55-9-107......I bought the car with all this already installed. I have severe migraines and doctor even wrote a letter telling judge this keeps me from getting them while I am driving. Had them for 12 years. judge still not happy. gotta go back june 14th to 'revisit' this. In Lawrence County TN.....am I legal?

8. Tess | July 18, 2013 at 10:13 PM EDT

Are cops exempt from the window tint law?

9. Admin | September 13, 2013 at 12:48 AM EDT


Yes, 35% is minimum light transmittance and is legal in Tennessee. The officer should have not given you a \warning ticket\ as you have not violated the law. He probably gave you a warning. Officers can pull you over even in the pitch dark to inspect your window tint percentage. Police will especially exercise their right at the time you mentioned(2:00 a.m.) The officer will be able to get a chance to detect the odor of alcohol and or drugs when he is inspecting the windows. By having tint on your car you are giving them that right. I would advise you to remove the tint altogether.

10. ADMIN | September 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM EDT


The intent of the law is for a full-time salaried officer to be able to inspect. However, I am sure then State would still pursue prosecution of any charge you may have received stemming from the bad stop i.e. part-time or reserve officer. I would hire an attorney to exercise your Constitutional rights and raise suppression issues if you have been charged with a crime in this scenario.

11. ADMIN | September 13, 2013 at 01:01 AM EDT


Yes, 14% is illegal in Tennessee state wide. You must have window tint that allows 35% light transmittance to be in compliance with the law.

12. ADMIN | September 13, 2013 at 01:06 AM EDT


Yes, All of the windows have to allow at least 35% light into the car. The back windows apply as well. The concern is officer safety and the officer will not be able to see passengers in the back of the car if the tint is too dark.

13. ADMIN | September 13, 2013 at 01:15 AM EDT


It sounds to me like you have \\\\\\\stacked tint\\\\\\\. You have two tints that individually would be legal but the overlapping tint collectively darkens the tint passed the legal limit. Even though you purchased the car from a dealer with the tint already installed it would still be illegal if the combined light transmittance was less than 35%. However, a medical condition is the exception to this law. If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition due to light sensitivity then you should raise that defense. Also, always install your license plate where it is clearly visible. That will can get you pulled over at any time.

14. ADMIN | September 13, 2013 at 01:16 AM EDT


Yes, Police and government vehicles are exempt.

15. Indie | February 07, 2015 at 11:06 AM EST

Hi I live in a small town in tn.both my jeep and my dodge truck I use to pull my horse trailer and my husband drives also are 15% with a eyebrow on front windshield that is lower than the legal limit. I have a medical condition called photosensatility causing horrible migraines that result in vomitting and so on. My husband got pulled over in our small town we live in and she showed the officer the prescription from the doctor for darker window tint the officer told him he had never heard of anything like a medical exemption and he gave him a ticket for the tint Anyways regardless of the rx. I then got my doctor to write a letter to the tdot commissioner along with my rx for the window tint. I had them fax and Mail both letter and rx to the commissioner in Nashville tn . I am waiting on a response of what to do and how to keep from getting future tickets for my disability. The next day I got pulled over in the next town in my jeep and showed the officer the letter and rx and he confirmation from the fax that I sent the day before to the comissioner.the officer told me that he wasn't going to give me a ticket for window tint but rather for following to closly but he stated he did pull me over for window tint. He also told me that he has never seen a window tint exemption letter before. Am I doing the write thing by writing a letter for a exemption and what is the process of getting a medical window tint exemption in the state of tn seems to me that the officers don't know the law either. Severe migraines are enough suffering As it is let alone getting tormented by cops every day. I do understand that the tint is a reason to pull me over but they had two cars there and held me for about 45 minutes with my 1 year old in the back screaming crying. Please help. Thank you for your time

16. Amy Beasley | March 02, 2015 at 06:44 PM EST

What's the law for police car tint? There getting arrested all the time for bogus crap. What about them? And they wonder why people have no respect for them. Catch a criminal and leave the innocent alone.

17. ADMIN | April 23, 2015 at 01:39 PM EDT


I understand the law to read that police cars are supposed to conform to the law with respect to the front windows but the rear windows can be below 35%. However, I have seen many police cars have illegal front tint.

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