Car windows too dark? You might be a criminal.
Like many states, Utah restricts the shade of tint you can use on the front windows of your vehicle. Until now, the beehive stated required at least 43% of exterior light to be able to pass through—a standard far stricter than surrounding states.
In Nevada and Idaho, the number is 35%; Arizona, 33%; Wyoming, 28%; Colorado, 27%; and New Mexico, 20%. In other words, every surrounding state was more permissive in allowing drivers to darken their windows — whether because of personal preference, security, or reducing light for vision or heat purposes.
In the 2022 legislative session, Senator Dan McCay sponsored Senate Bill 149 to lower Utah’s tint standard to 35%, matching the next strictest surrounding state. The bill also allows a “5% variance” during testing by a police officer, meaning that in theory, a person can go as low as 30% and not be cited for a violation.
SB 149 passed the Senate 20-6 and passed the House 68-3 — a victory this year where prior years saw similar bills defeated after heavy lobbying by law enforcement officials who argued that darker window tint makes them feel more unsafe when approaching vehicles. But this is a speculation that simply isn’t based in fact. Plenty of other states have far darker tints without higher incidents between vehicle passengers and law enforcement.
While Utah’s limit should be lowered even further, SB 149 is a small step in the right direction and will allow us to gather data in the months to follow to demonstrate that this lowering of light transmission did not jeopardize officer safety — suggesting that taking another step in the same direction will similarly be fine.