SIKESTON -- Imagine taking your vehicle to be inspected, expecting everything to be in order, when you are told that your vehicle has failed because your tint is too dark. This is a scenario that could be facing many Missouri residents.
The new state law, which began Aug. 28, prohibits vehicle windows with tinted film that blocks out more than 65 percent of the light, known as "35 percent shade." Every window, except the windshield can be tinted as long as the film meets the shade requirement. Factory-installed glass is exempt from the law.
Under the old law, tinting was not allowed on the windshield or front seat windows, but nearly solid black tint was allowed on the backseat and back windows. This will leave many motorist forced to remove and/or replace some tint on their windows, which can be a costly process.
"When you peel the tint off of the back window, it destroys the defroster," said Ron Faler, store manager at Auto Trim and Design in Sikeston. "No matter how gingerly you do it, you are still going to destroy the defroster and then you have to pay $800-$1,000 for a new back glass."
The process is not only costly, but can take several hours to do while making a large mess. "The tint will peel off, but it is the glue behind it that is the bear," Faler said. "That will cause a big mess."
Many motorists are still unaware of the new law and auto detailers are finding out in peculiar ways.
"I found out from customers," Faler said, who added the people it is going to hurt are those who aren't criminals.
"This is going to cost a lot of people who were in good faith and not breaking laws," Faler said. "A lot of people who put tint on their windows to keep the car cooler or to prevent dry rot of their interior are now going to have to take it off. It is going to cost them $145-165 to put new tint on, not counting the labor it will take them to remove the previous tint."
The restrictions were part of a bill passed at the last minute, covering a number of traffic issues, including blood alcohol level. The bill slipped by without much attention, leaving many not knowing about the law. When motorists find out they will have to remove the tint in order for their vehicle to pass inspection, another thing that will cause problems.
Dave Worley of Plaza Tire in Sikeston said they had not failed anyone yet because of the new tint restrictions but are expecting problems.
"A lot of people still don't know about the law," Worley said. "We haven't had problems with it yet, but people will want to argue with us about the tint factor when we tell them."
Worley said the tint is something the police and the Highway Patrol will be looking for and it will be probable cause for pulling somebody over.
Those who are found to have tint that is against restrictions could be face up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $300.
For now, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is only issuing warnings to motorists they find in violation of the tinting law.
Faler said Auto Trim Design in Cape Girardeau has contacted the Missouri State Highway Patrol who in turn contacted the Missouri State Legislature to try and get the law changed, but they have been unsuccessful so far. The patrol opposes the new restrictions because the state will have to spend money to purchase light meters for the patrol's cars to measure the tint.
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has been asked to put the measure on the agenda of the Legislature's special session which begins today. If not, the issue will be addressed at next year's legislative session.
Faler urged motorists who are unhappy with the law to contact their representatives to help get the law changed.
"I think it is just crummy the way it got set up," Faler said.