Tail Light Tinting Laws

Updated April 17, 2017

When car cosmetics get in the way of safety, there is such a thing as too tinted. While car customisation has become a popular hobby for car lovers and gear heads alike, darkening tail lights for aesthetic value can interfere with safe driving and cause accidents on the road.

Why Laws are in Place

Laws on tail light tinting are in place to maintain a safe driving atmosphere for drivers. When tail lights are too tinted, it is hard for other drivers to see brake lights or indicators. According to Tint Center, tinting laws can be confusing and the terms of the laws can lack clarity. Before tinting anything on a car, Tint Center recommends consulting local rules and regulations in a given area.

What the Tinters Think

According to Jon's Tinted Tails, each state has its own laws regarding tinted tail lights. Tinted Tails said that the only real overarching rule for tail light tinting relates to how well the light shines through the tint. The light from brake lights or blinkers needs to shine through in the same colour, as if the tails were untinted. Tinted Tails recommends going with a light tint on tail lights to avoid fines.

Examples of Laws

According to Batlground Motorsport Engineering, Georgia law in the company's area specifies that light emitted from tail lights be visible from 500 feet away. Matching the tint to the power of the light underneath it--so that light is visible from 500 feet away--makes tinted tail lights legal. Laws in Michigan, however, require tail lamps to emit a red light plainly at 500 feet, but they also specify that stop lamps should be distinguishable from other lamps from only 100 feet. The Michigan State Police says that if the cover applied prohibits the lamp from meeting these requirements, it will be deemed illegal.

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About the Author

Michael Staton began contributing professionally to several papers in South Carolina during 2005. He writes for "Upstate Be" magazine, covering local bands and writing his own weekly Internet column. He is also co-editor of a service industry magazine called "Industry." Staton holds a Bachelor of Arts in media studies from the College of Charleston.