If you’re heading to Gatineau with tinted windows and expired validation tags, prepare to be ticketed.
There are pros, and then there are pitfalls of living in a provincial border city.
The duality of residing in the National Capital Region means adhering to different rules once the Ottawa River is crossed.
For instance, Ontario drivers risk getting dinged heavily if they’re caught hiding behind tinted glass in Quebec, where a fine can be levied if the front side windows let in less than 70% of light.
Police use a photometer “that validates the percentage of light that penetrates the window,” said Gatineau police Sgt. J.P. Le May.
“You can have tinted windows at the back, but not at the front.”
The windshield can have a 15 cm wide strip along the upper edge, according to information posted on the Societe de l’assurance automobile Quebec website.
Generally, officers don’t carry the instrument, said Le May.
Drivers are given a notice for inspection and must go to a facility where the vehicle is examined by an agent.
If the tint exceeds 30%, the owner or driver has 48 hours to change it, then must return to have the tint verified.
If corrections aren’t made within two days, the vehicle must be removed from the road or drivers face further penalties.
“To me, it seems so unjust,” said Elaine Garfinkel.
“Our borders are open, but something like that, I think, has the potential of closing our borders to Quebec.”
Garfinkel said her friend, a University of Ottawa professor, was pulled over and fined $160 in Hull recently for having tinted windows.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Garfinkel.
“And so if I can avoid going over (to Gatineau), I will.”
Fines range depending on the circumstances and whether the driver also owns the vehicle.
Ontario residents always have the option of contesting the ticket in court, said Surete du Quebec Sgt. Marc Tessier.
“That’s not our job. That’s for the courts to decide,” said Tessier.
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act states the front left and right windows can’t be tinted with a material “that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside.”
That means it’s up to the discretion of officers; ticketed drivers face a $110 fine and additional court costs.