Businesses specializing in tinting windows may mislead customers by using reverse measurements, say Ottawa police.
“It obviously throws a little bit of confusion into the whole business and if they’re making money, the more confusion, the better,” said Ottawa police Const. Jim Casey of the traffic escort unit.
“So if you put a doubt in somebody’s mind, ‘well maybe I can get away with this … It doesn’t look right, but maybe it’s OK,'” said Casey.
Standards are set by the Society of Automotive Engineers, said Casey, and side windows have a limit of 30%, meaning “you can stop up to 30% of visible light from passing through.”
Automotive shops call 5% “limo tint” “but from the standard of the SAE, that’s like a 95% window tint,” said Casey, meaning it’s 95% dark.
Most cars nowadays have slight tinting to ease eye strain and improve visibility but it’s no more than 30%, he said.
Ali Fadelalla of Performance Auto Care insists cops have it all wrong.
“We don’t mislead customers. We tell customers about the law,” said Fadelalla.
Tint offers many advantages, he said, including security for the glass, UV protection, and energy savings “so you don’t have to crank your air conditioning,” he said.
“It protects the interior. In the summertime it will not fade fast.”
Then there’s the other “cool” quotient.
“It makes the car look cooler,” said Fadelalla.
During the summer, the east end shop sees at least 10 customers a week who spend about $240 on tinting, he said.
But illegally tinted windows jeopardize the safety of police officers, who can’t see the driver or occupants inside a vehicle.
Unlike Quebec, where tint is measured with a photometre, it’s up to the discretion of Ontario cops to ticket motorists.
Casey hears an array of excuses from drivers with tinted front windows.
“Some people buy the car used that way,” he said.
“Or they have a nice stereo inside their car so they want to darken the windows.”
Other times, it’s just a matter of privacy.
“They don’t like people staring at them from the car next door, so they like the nice, dark tinted window,” said Casey.
When they get pulled over, “they have an idea that something’s wrong… but they don’t know exactly what the offence is,” said Casey.
The penalty is $110.