north carolina window tint laws

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North Carolina tinting laws were enacted in 2001 due to the increased use of tinting materials. North Carolina window tint laws are specific to each window on each vehicle. The law is updated periodically and knowing the law’s details is the vehicle owner’s responsibility.

The darkest tint allowed for Passenger vehicles in North Carolina is 35% with a medical exception that allows for 30%.

Yet, for Multipurpose vehicles, there is a slight difference for certain windows, but more on that later!

In this post, you will find out all the tint laws that North Carolina has set in place for the safety, and security of drivers, and pedestrians alike.

Not only that, but we will also explore the consequences of what can happen if you don’t abide by these laws. 

Abiding by the window tint state laws is every car owner’s duty, and you should always do your homework before deciding to tint your vehicle’s windows!

After-market Tint versus Manufacturer Tint | North Carolina Tint Law

North Carolina has an average of 212 sunny days per year, so tinting windows will decrease the car’s ambient internal temperature and prevent sun damage to interior surfaces.

Tinting also helps to reduce glare and enhances privacy. In addition, some vehicle owners find tinting enhances the appearance of their vehicle.

There are multiple do-it-yourself window tinting kits available on the market.

However, achieving a professional result takes time, skill, and patience.

There are various resources for attempting the project, but the consensus is that it is cost-effective to have it done by a professional.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicles Act (NHTSA) of 1966 is the foundation for manufacturer-applied film guidelines.

Therefore, the federal guidelines take precedence over individual state parameters.

As a reference, Standard 205 of NHTSA requires 70% light transmission through the windshield and windows to the immediate right and left of the driver. 

Violating federal laws by manufacturers will result in a 1,000-dollar fine for each instance related to the film, glazing, or window tinting.

Tint Darkness Law in North Carolina for Passenger Vehicles

  • Windshield → may have a non-reflective tint for the top 5 inches or the manufacturer’s AS-1 line
  • Front Side Windows → has to allow 35% of light or 35% VLT
  • Back Side Windows → has to allow 35% of light or 35% VLT
  • Rear Window → has to allow 35% of light or 35% VLT

Tint Darkness Law in North Carolina for Trucks, SUVs, and Vans

  • Windshield → may have a non-reflective tint for the top 5 inches or the manufacturer’s AS-1 line
  • Front Side Windows → has to allow 35% of light or 35% VLT
  • Back Side Windows → you are free to use any darkness 
  • Rear Window → you are free to use any darkness

Semi-tractors and commercial vehicles have federal guidelines. Exempted from the law are:

  • Law enforcement
  • Ambulances
  • Motor homes
  • Property hauling vehicles, such as trailers

Reduction of ultraviolet light exposure through the use of a transparent film on the windshield is allowed. Transparent film is virtually invisible but does decrease ultraviolet exposure by up to 99% and the sun’s heat by 43%. 

If you have an extended commute investing in the new ceramic, nanotechnology in transparent shielding may be of value to you.

NC Window Tint Laws Infographic

Window Tint Reflection Rules in NC for Passenger and Multipurpose Vehicles

​Front-side and back-side windows cannot have a reflection of more than 20%. This rule applies to both Passenger vehicles such as Sedans, or Multipurpose vehicles such as SUVs, Vans, etc. 

NC laws window tint | Nuances and Other Tinting Rules 

Tint colors you cannot have applied to your windows in North Carolina are: 

You must have two side mirrors if you have a rear window tint.

Film manufacturers are not required to be certified in North Carolina.

There is a 3% variance allowed from window to window.

Different jurisdictions may have alternate interpretations of the law.

In the yearly safety inspections of vehicles, the inspection stations use an approved tint meter to measure the visible light transmission. This testing of after-market visual light transmission reduction film costs 10 dollars to the state inspection fee.

​The Darkest Tint in North Carolina

You might wonder, “What is the darkest legal tint in North Carolina?” The answer is that the darkest tint allowed is only for medical exemptions. The medical exemption allows the applicant to be eligible to have a maximum tinting VLT of 70% to the windshields.

To obtain a medical exemption, the following must be done:

  • Must obtain a form from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website
  • The form must be filled out by a physician
  • You then return to the DMV for approval to qualify for a medical exemption. 
  • After obtaining a medical exemption, you must display a sticker in the bottom corner of the left side of the rear window

Medical exemptions must pass through the medical review board and last up to 5 years if granted. Violations of the conditions of the certificate can result in a 200-dollar fine.

Is 20% Tint Legal in North Carolina?

The official legal tint percentage in North Carolina is 35%, however, tint reflection can be no more than 20%. 

Results of Not Complying With Tint Law

If you have or want after-market tinted windows, you must review how the law applies to your specific window film, as punishment varies. Typically, there are a few reactions that you can expect, these include receiving:

  • A repair order
  • A Misdemeanor
  • A window tint ticket

Repair Order

If the tint is darker than allowed, you will receive a repair order first. A repair order requires you to remove the tint. Not complying with repair orders will be costly and could result in the suspension of driving privileges.


Violating tinting laws can also result in a class 3 misdemeanor. The levels of misdemeanors are listed below:

  1. An active sentence when you could serve time in jail.
  2. An intermediate sentence is supervised probation.
  3. A community sentence is a fine, probation, or community service.

Window Tint Ticket

If you violate the tint law, you will likely receive a ticket alongside your repair order. A North Carolina window tint ticket tends to cost around $50.

Wrapping Up: North Carolina Window Tint Laws

As tinting is popular, has health benefits, and is aesthetically pleasing, it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to know the legal implications of having it applied. If you consider having film placed on your windows, you must know and comply with North Carolina window tint laws.

North Carolina law is detailed and subject to the local interpretation of the law. Your residential address will determine what laws apply to you.

There will be a 10-dollar fee added to your yearly safety inspection cost. Check your local department of motor vehicles for tinting.

Doing your due diligence can prevent a roadside visit with local and state law enforcement officials.

Additionally, laws related to window tinting protect police officials by allowing them to see into a vehicle, helping keep them safe.

In summation, the laws protect both the police officers and the passengers by allowing both parties a clear line of sight.

Note: This post has been created for informational purposes only. We recommend to always double-check with your local authorities the information presented here as it may be subjected to change at any time.


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