Written By: Patrick Brown and Lori Khaouli, Summer Student
Police have repeatedly stated that a main cause for road violence is distracted driving. People continue to drive, read texts, read directions, and answer emails all while navigating two tons of metal on our streets. The addiction to the iPhone and personal devices has seen an increase in road violence. Trying to charge and prosecute these individuals can be difficult. A significant impediment to finding out what a driver is doing in their car is tinted windows. Although people think window tinting can add a cool look to their vehicle, it can also be used to protect and hide bad and at times criminal behavior.
Is tinting the windows of your car legal for Ontario vehicles? The short answer: It depends.
Section 73(3) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act states:
No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle on which the surface of the windshield or of any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat has been coated with any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle.
A recent Ontario law went into effect for vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2017, which prohibits any aftermarket window tinting on a vehicle’s front windshield. The law also limits the allowable window tint on the front left and right windows to a maximum of 30% darkness. The law does not impose restrictions on tinting of the backside windows and rear window.
Maybe it is time to enact new laws to ensure tinting is prohibited on all vehicles.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Tinted windows impede law enforcement from seeing what’s going on inside the car. Tinted windows also limit pedestrians and cyclist’s ability to see the driver of a vehicle, which puts them at further risk when sharing the road. A key factor to staying safe on the road is ensuring that the driver is aware that a cyclist or pedestrian is in their vicinity – if the window is too dark, the cyclist or pedestrian will have no indication that the driver has seen them.
As the owner of a vehicle registered in Ontario, ensure that you meet Ontario’s standard vehicle requirements. Drivers of vehicles with tinted windows beyond the allowable tint may be fined for windows tinted beyond the allowable limit.
 Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8
 Greg Layson, Ontario limits amount of allowable window tint, cyclists rejoice (Jul 2016), online: CBC News < https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/ontario-limits-amount-of-allowable-window-tint-cyclists-rejoice-1.3657694>.