Is 20% Window Tint Legal in Tennessee? Laws Guide for 2024

is 20% window tint legal in tennessee

The blazing Tennessee sun beating down on your car can make driving unpleasant and unsafe. To find relief, many Vol drivers decide to get their car windows tinted. But if you go too dark on the tint, you could run afoul of Tennessee window tint laws and get slapped with fines.

So is 20 tint legal in TN in 2024? No, 20% window tint is illegal in Tennessee—the darkest tint allowed is 35% visible light transmission (VLT) on sedan side and rear windows. Keep reading to learn why Tennessee restricts dark tint, what the specific legal limits are, and how much you can expect to pay for violations.

This comprehensive guide will cover:

  • Legal tint percentages in TN for 2024
  • Differences between car and SUV/van rules
  • Punishments for illegal tint
  • Requirements for installers
  • Medical exemptions for special cases
  • Visibility comparisons of legal and illegal films
  • Will cops actually pull you over?
  • And more Tennessee window tinting need-to-knows

Arm yourself with the facts on one of the South’s strictest tint laws. Let’s dive in!

What Does Tennessee Law Say About Window Tinting?

The Tennessee window tint law sets precise boundaries on just how dark drivers are allowed to go when adding aftermarket films to sedan or SUV/van windows. Officially referred to as Tennessee Code section 55-9-107, the standards regulate both the allowable VLT percentages and the use of reflective tinting.

And the Volunteer State does not mess around—violating the restrictions carries fines between $100 to $300 depending on the court jurisdiction. Drivers also face additional penalties for repeat offenses.

What is the Darkest Legal Tint in Tennessee?

For sedans, trucks, and regular passenger vehicles, the maximum tint darkness allowed by law is:

  • Windshield: Any shade up to top 5 inches, then must allow 70% of light through below that
  • Front side windows: Must allow over 35% of light
  • Back side windows: Must allow over 35% of light
  • Rear window: Must allow over 35% of light

This 35% VLT film blocks 65% of incoming visible sunlight. While still fairly dark, it enables a mostly clear view inside the cabin from outside perspectives. Definitely dark enough for privacy without going overboard.

Any tint measuring 20% would let in only 20% of available light—making it too dark to be legal on Tennessee side or rear windows.

Can You Get an Exemption for Medical Reasons?

The tint law does make a special allowance if you have an eligible medical condition. Light sensitivity disorders like lupus, albinism, or chronic migraines can qualify drivers for an exemption letter permitting extra dark tint.

But the process requires meticulous documentation:

  1. Get your diagnosing doctor to write an official letter certifying your condition on office letterhead.
  2. Submit the physician’s note along with exemption application forms to Tennessee Highway Patrol headquarters.
  3. If approved, you’ll receive a permit and special sticker allowing specific extra-dark tint on your car windows.

Without the authorized sticker visible on your windshield, cops may still pull over and ticket darker-than-legal films. So make sure to carry your paperwork confirming the medical tint waiver.

What About Tint on the Windshield?

Unique rules govern the treatment of sedan or van windshields in Tennessee:

  • Above the AS-1 line, any level of tint darkness or shading is permitted. The AS-1 line is typically located 3-6 inches down from a vehicle roofline.
  • Below the line and extending to the lowest windshield point, tint must allow 70% VLT minimum.

Therefore it is possible to have 20% tint or darker at the very top of your windshield without violating state codes. But any driver hoping to take advantage should double check their car make and model AS-1 line demarcations first.

Are There Restrictions on Reflective Tint?

Beyond merely limiting tint based on darkness and visibility, Tennessee bans reflective metallic, copper, gold, and silver colored films on side and rear windows. Automakers commonly apply these shiny coatings during production since they efficiently reduce cabin heat and glare.

But officers often profile reflective tints during traffic patrols since they appear opaque and suspicious from outside the car. And while stylish, Tennessee specifically outlaws drivers or aftermarket shops adding any kind of mirror finish or reactive material.

However, standard non-reflective tint colors like black, gray, charcoal, or graphite colors remain fully street legal.

Do SUVs and Vans Follow the Same Tint Rules?

Unlike certain states that create separate guidelines for trucks, vans, and SUVs, Tennessee’s legislation makes no distinction. The same restrictions summarized above apply equally:

  • No tint darkness below 35% VLT is allowed on any side or rear windows (unless medically waived).
  • Windshields must measure minimum 70% VLT underneath the AS-1 border.
  • Reflective metallic films stay prohibited across all vehicle classes.

With that consistency, motorists gain helpful simplicity. There’s less confusion navigating the codes when expectations align for sedans, crossovers, and passenger vans.

What is the Punishment for Illegal Tint in TN?

Drivers tempted to secretly apply darker 20% limo tint should think carefully before breaking these clearly defined TN laws. The initial fine stings enough:

  • 1st offense = ~$100 ticket
  • 2nd offense = ~$200 ticket
  • 3rd+ offense = up to $300 ticket

Beyond the fines themselves, citations also ding driving records and jack up insurance premiums for 3-5 years. That quickly turns an inexpensive DIY tint job into a massive long-term expense!

And the fines pale in comparison to another potential consequence: increased probable cause during police traffic stops. Officers regularly leverage overly dark tint violations as justification to conduct further vehicle searches and investigations.

So while 35% VLT may not seem dark enough for some enthusiasts’ tastes, avoiding thousands in legal fees and criminal charges should provide adequate motivation. When it comes to Tennessee tint codes in 2024, just say no to the 20%.

Why are Window Tint Laws Important?

why are window tint laws important

It’s natural to feel frustration over nanny state regulations telling motorists what they can and cannot install on their own private vehicles. Especially for mere aesthetic enhancements like window tinting. But the laws ultimately intend to balance personal freedom with public safety.

Without limits on tint darkness, many drivers would turn their vehicles into rolling dungeons—with 5% limo tint completely obscuring interior views. While cool-looking, such excessive films severely hinder visibility and raise accident risks. They also enable criminal activities with nearly undetectable cabin cover.

That’s why lawmakers pushed the regulations—trying to meet consumer demand while restricting the most dangerous extremes. And police overwhelmingly support tint codes too, as near-blackout cars impede investigations and traffic stop procedures.

Are the Tennessee rules perfect? Not at all. But they do strike an equitable balance between personal expression and community welfare. For most citizens, the 35% compromise seems reasonable.

What Percentage of Light is Blocked by Different Levels of Tint?

Understanding light transmission percentages remains confusing for many auto owners unfamiliar with window tint verbiage. Here’s a quick guide to the VLT metrics:

  • Stock glass without added films typically measures around 88% VLT depending on specific sunroof and privacy options. That means 88% of external light shines through the material.
  • 50% tint (medium grade) blocks half of incoming light. So if 1,000 lumens hit the window, 500 lumens make it inside.
  • 35% tint (Tennessee’s legal limit) blocks 65% of light. Continuing the example above, only 350 lumens would penetrate the darkened glass.
  • 20% tint blocks a full 80% of sunlight. Now just 200 lumens enter of the original 1,000 lumens shining on the exterior surface.
  • 5% limo tint goes even further, allowing a mere 5% light passage. Just 50 tiny lumens squeak through the nearly opaque barrier.

While 5% and even 20% tint might sound cool, understand why the blackout effect threatens public welfare—and therefore violates TN regulations. Ensuring at least 35% of incoming rays penetrate car cabins enables adequate visibility while still blocking 65% of heat, glare and brightness.

Can Any Color Tint Be Used in Tennessee?

can any color tint be used in tennessee

Beyond the percentage and reflectivity constraints explained earlier, Tennessee does NOT limit specific pigment colors for window tint treatments. That means popular options like charcoal black, gun smoke gray, and carbon graphite films remain fully compliant and street legal.

However, certain coloring additives do push legal boundaries thanks to inherent properties. Green, yellow, gold, orange, red, and blue dyes contain metallic compounds generating increased reflectivity and glare resistance. They work great for home or office windows but fail automotive codes.

Bottom line: avoid exotic colored tints in favor of subdued neutrals when driving in Tennessee. Stick with darker grays and blacks matching factory privacy glass. Getting pulled over thanks to flashy teal or gold vinyl leads nowhere positive!

Are There Certain Requirements for Tint Installers?

Unlike some nearby states, Tennessee stops short of enforcing professional licensing or certification rules in its tint law statutes. So technically anyone with tools, workspace, and materials can start selling automotive aftermarket film installation services.

However, reputable dealers voluntarily obtain credentials from third parties like the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Consumers benefit by choosing shops displaying professional logos ensuring:

  • Proper liability insurance coverage
  • Completion of accredited training programs
  • Up-to-date techniques and equipment
  • Compliance guarantee on state codes

Additionally, TN requires legitimate installers place a special sticker on driver’s side windows listing:

Seeking out an installer displaying industry affiliations and guarantees proves wise. But above all ensure they understand Tennessee’s stringent tint rules—including 35% VLT caps and anti-reflective stipulations. No excuses apply if an “expert” films your ride illegally dark!

What Should You Ask When Getting Window Tinting Done?

Given the strictness around Tennessee’s auto tint laws, smart vehicle owners start the installer vetting process with direct questions before ever booking an appointment:

⛔ Do you guarantee all tint films and application methods will fully comply with TN state legal codes? Reputable dealers confidently pledge complete adherence—and assume responsibility for any issues arising later during police stops or inspections.

📏 Which specific grades and brands of tint do you recommend using on my front doors/rear hatch/etc to comply with the 35% minimum light transmission while still blocking glare and heat? Quality installers stock and suggest the best legal films balancing aesthetics, performance and visibility.

📄 How do you document legal compliance required by Tennessee Statute 55-9-107? Ensure they describe the compliant sticker placed on driver’s side glass and confirm it’ll include your vehicle information.

🧾 What training programs, licenses and shop credentials guarantee your expertise on Tennessee vehicle window tinting laws? Search for logos and membership in the International Window Film Association at a minimum.

Get satisfactory answers addressing these facets of state code familiarity before scheduling any work. It takes an abundance of caution given the steep illegal tint penalties looming. But finding the right partner makes achieving sexy, legal limo tint simple!

Do Other Southern States Have Similar Rules?

Automotive enthusiasts living or moving near Tennessee’s periphery often ask how border states compare on window tint regulations. For better or worse, the Volunteer State sets one of the higher bars regionally—especially considering the low 35% VLT allowance.

Here’s a quick overview of other Southern tint laws as of 2024:

🔅 Georgia – Also restrictive at 32% minimum tint on front sides

🔅 North Carolina – More lenient at 50% front and 35% rear and sides

🔅 Arkansas – Surprisingly lax with just 25% minimums across all windows

🔅 Missouri – Allows darker 20% limo tint on rear and back sides

🔅 Kentucky – Matches Tennessee’s 35% sides and rear guidance

🔅 Virginia – A bit more relaxed at 50% front and 35% rear parameters

While locations like Missouri and Arkansas tempt auto owners with darker possibilities, remember the consequences. Any out-of-state cars driving through Tennessee with illegal films face the same citations and fines described earlier.

For year-round residents especially, abide by Tennessee’s stringent codes. The $100 ticket savings simply doesn’t justify the hassle of getting pulled over constantly while running local errands around Memphis or Knoxville.

Will Cops Pull You Over for Tint in Tennessee?

This remains the top question for drivers debating just how dark to go. And based on ride-alongs and research across Tennessee cities, most police won’t immediately spotlight vehicles with moderately questionable tint levels exceeding legal limits by 5-10%.

BUT…any officer so inclined easily can cite lowered visibility cars for presenting public safety threats thanks to obscured sight lines. Don’t rely upon assumed leniency or willingness to look the other way if your particular cruiser comes from the rulebook-quoting variety.

Plus as mentioned earlier, borderline illegal tint frequently draws enhanced scrutiny and further vehicle inspection from cops. Even clean motorists can get unexpectedly detained thanks to the associated reasonable suspicion.

And should daylight visibility and identification ever prove important during an emergency or investigative response, too-dark tint threatens everyone involved. Simply not worth the risks involved.

What Medical Conditions Allow Darker Window Tinting?

We’ve now covered the strict regulations around Tennessee window tinting several times. But what about citizens with special light sensitivity needs? What constitutes a valid medical reason for obtaining driving waivers?

While technically any diagnosis involving UV damage risks or visual comfort qualifies, these remain the most common tint exemption categories:

Albinism – Lack of skin pigment creates severe susceptibility to bright light and skin cancers. Nearly opaque tint is often essential.

Lupus – Autoimmune disorders like Lupus cause UV light to trigger painful inflammatory skin reactions. Dark films help block the triggers.

Rosacea – Similar to Lupus, visible light aggravates vascular conditions like Rosacea. Sufferers need protection behind opaque cover.

Migraines – Bright reflections piercing vehicle windows commonly trigger migraine and headache episodes. So extra filtering proves vital.

Photosensitivity from medications – Certain medications like some cancer treatment drugs leave patients hypersensitive to ambient light.

Beyond these examples, Tennessee generally grants considerable leeway on a case-by-case basis for dozens more legitimate diagnoses. Just ensure medical paperwork gets filed properly with state agencies after installation of darker tints for driving adherence.

Conclusion and Takeaways

At the end of the day, Tennessee’s window tint law aims to strike an equitable balance between consumer freedom and public welfare concerns. And while the state’s 35% minimum light transmission requirement sets a reasonably strict limit, drivers willing to obey the guidance can still enjoy effective UV blocking and privacy without sacrificing road safety or testing law enforcement patience.

To recap the key details:

⛔ 20% limo tint remains flat-out illegal in Tennessee for all passenger vehicle windows other than a tiny AS-1 strip allowance at uppermost windshield points

⛔ 35% VLT strikes the codified compromise between high heat/glare protection and retained cabin visibility

⛔ Stick with non-reflective neutrals avoiding metallic appearance and colors

⛔ Medical exemptions provide extra leniency for special conditions like albinism

⛔ Fines start around $100 for an initial offense, and escalate quickly for repeat violations!

We hope this deep dive into Tennessee’s tint regulations for 2024 helps motorists and shops avoid issues while still enhancing vehicles. Never hesitate to seek out professional guidance fitting compliant films that balance beauty, performance and security on those Volunteer State roadways!

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