Home » Let’s Make New Hampshire’s Automotive Tint Laws Less Draconian

Let’s Make New Hampshire’s Automotive Tint Laws Less Draconian

New Hampshire RSA 265:95 forbids any aftermarket tint on the driver or passenger side windows. The law is primarily enforced during the yearly inspection and will cause a vehicle to fail the safety inspection.

States have progressively been moving to allow aftermarket tint on windows. In 1993, sixteen states did not allow any tint on these front-side windows. Now, only four states have this restriction. New Hampshire is one of the holdouts. The other states are Vermont, Michigan, and New Jersey. In NH, only the rear windows are allowed to be tinted, with the restriction that at least 35% of light must enter the vehicle. The front-side windows are not allowed to be tinted at all, other than what’s supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. In the 32 other states, tinting to 35% or darker is allowed on these front-side windows.

I proposed HB317 so New Hampshire can join 32 other states in allowing 35% tinting on the front-side windows. Legislators have introduced bills like this for years in NH, and they always seem to get voted down, but why?

The State Police usually present three reasons which give legislators pause. First, is that not being able to see into the vehicle presents a danger to the traffic officer. Second, the aftermarket tint film makes the window harder to break in the case of an emergency. The film on the outside of the glass holds the pieces together while the factory tint is located in the center of the glass, is thinner, and breaks easier. Finally, they say that it is dangerous because window tint might hinder nonverbal communication between drivers and other people on the road.

The biggest hurdle to overcome may be the claim that window tint puts the lives of officers in danger, and legislators do not want to take that chance. However, this claim seems to be based on anecdotal evidence and not hard data.

I tried to quantify the danger to officers from not being able to see into a vehicle to determine whether or not the claim could be substantiated with hard facts. I acquired information about every officer death from 1993-2017 and limited the data to traffic stops. What jumped out at me was that during traffic stops, the danger from the passing vehicles was, by far, the most significant threat to the officer.

After breaking the deaths down by state and cross-referencing when the 12 states began allowing tint, I found no correlation of officer deaths. In fact, I found 12 other states that had not had a single officer death during a traffic stop, once I removed any danger from outside the vehicle from the numbers. It could be that dark tink increases stress on an officer, which could turn into a dangerous situation for the vehicle occupants involved in a traffic stop. But, the numbers I found did not indicate a decrease in officer safety due to threats coming from inside the vehicle. Besides, cars from states that allow the front-side windows to be tinted can still visit New Hampshire, so officers need to be able to handle that situation whether our state allows front-side tinted windows or not.

If it’s true that aftermarket window tinting slows down the removal of vehicle occupants in an emergency, then that’s a risk the owner should be able to take. Life is full of risks. Outlawing the acceptance of that risk is government overreach.

Finally, with regards to non-verbal communication at stop signs, the committee tried to address that concern with an amendment that increased the required light transmittance for the front-side windows to 70%. This is a very light tinting in which a person is still quite visible. Tinting to 35% would only make a person’s outline visible, depending on the light. Since hand waving is the most common nonverbal communication, I believe this concern could be addressed with either tinting option, which is better than none at all.

My hope is that, with passage of HB317, NH can finally increase window tinting options for consumers, as seems to be the trend in the rest of the country. While the bill doesn’t allow as many options as I would like, I think it has the best chance to make it legal for residents to install less expensive, aftermarket tinting. Why should we have to buy very expensive, factory-made tinted glass in order to have a much cooler ride?


  1. Cory Swinerton says:

    I agree 100%. This law is absolutely useless. 35% to the sides of driver I would agree with. It’s functional, safer for driving, and keep the interior cooler.

  2. Josh says:

    Legislators concerned for law enforcement officials for not being able to see into vehicle. What about the cars that have factory tint on rear windows. A passenger sitting in backseat could be just as big of a risk for officers as the driver is, therefore that’s not really an arguement.

  3. tint saves says:

    At 35% tint, you’re still visible from the outside, and during night an officer’s shining his light to the windows makes the interior very visible even with 35%, especially with 35%…
    The fact that the windows is harder to break during an accident or a robbery is better for the owner, making him and his vehicle safer.
    I’ve never ever heard that emergency services have any trouble with window films, or even security films.
    BTW, in Europe it’s legal to tint the whole windshield at 75% and front side windows to 70%, the rears can get any %.
    You can obviously get security films for all the windows, so the claims of the police here are blatant lies.
    Here’s the tint laws: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/1992/22/oj

    The regular transmission measured in accordance with item 9.1.2 shall not, in the case of windscreeens, be less than 75 % and, in the case of windows other than windscreens, shall not be less than 70 %.

    In the case of windows situated at points which are not essential to the driver’s field of vision (glazed roof, for example), the regular transmission factor of the light from the pane may be less than 70 %.

  4. PzMeyer says:

    Live Free or Die!??? Laughable if not so yet infuriating. Still NH in many ways is still as authoritarian and opportunistic as some heavy blue states. This stupid prohibition is but one. But the wasteful and irritating yearly vehicle inspection and absurd yearly vehicle registration charges, topped yet by ridiculously high property taxes, is enough to rally for another revolution. ‘Spirit of 2020!’

    • Snowbound says:

      Just as a note, the democrat states around NH suspended inspection till August for COVID, citing public safety. MA, ME, VT, even NY. NH was the lone holdout violently enforcing inspection the whole time.

      NH has the New Hampshire Automobile Dealer’s Association, controlled by sleazeball lawyer Pete McNamara. Through favors and likely bribes, he got Sununu to declare inspection an Essential Service. He’d also pushed, previously, for TWICE yearly inspections for more money through his shops into his pocket.

      When you have corrupt “crony crapitalist” Republicans, their laws can sometimes be more onerous than those of Democrats.

  5. Eric says:

    Officer safety. Right… how about they stop pulling citizens over and collecting money for the state. Wreckless driving…extreme speeds sure. Otherwise leave us alone and allow is 5o really “live free or die”. The tint will make vehicles safer. No shattered glass in our faces in an accident. Very little chance of smash and grab thefts. Extremely reduced chance of car hackings from smashing a side window. Tint of course reduces the temp in the car and suns damage to the interior. All pluses for the car/trucks owner. 35% should be allowed. There is no evidence … as noted in the article… that officers lives are in danger from tint.

  6. Tony says:

    Any progress with this? It’s sad that this continues to get shut down N.H. needs to make a change in the tint laws.

  7. Donald Freeman says:

    I have an actual eye condition where the sun really hurts my eyes and I have been going through hoops for years to try to get a waiver and have yet to come up unsuccessful

  8. Joanne says:

    So I moved to NH from Canada. Before Canada, I had previously lived in Florida where I bought my car and who allows a darker tint than many other states. I have a thin retina and my eyes can become quite sensitive to light; by the way, I’m only in my early 30’s. I also have a short stature making it hard to utilize the sun visor when I need to. Sunglasses? Already tried them, but still doesn’t work out too well. Depending on the type of sunglasses, it can make things harder to see as well due to the darkness from the tint on the glasses.

    Now I got a tint waiver, but I still failed the inspection since it’s still darker than it should be. I still have problems sometimes depending how bright the sun is, but the tint on the front passenger windows still help out. I borrowed my SO’s parent’s car when I first moved here and I definitely felt like I was a danger to other people as I would have to hold up one hand to block the sun and drive with the other hand. They didn’t have tint on their front passenger windows.

    The tint I got in Florida is also a high quality tint. Professionally done at the dealership at the time when I bought it. It’s one that is made to last 10-15 years. I’ve had my car since 2014 and the tint is not showing any wear or tear. Now I’m expected to throw away my investment, pay to have it professionally removed (residue from the glue would be left on the window if done at home) and pay someone else to place a tint again because I need it for medical and safety issues? The state should provide financial assistance then if it’s going to enforce such a stupid law.

    I talked so highly about NH; makes me rethink about this state.

  9. Paul says:

    Have we made any grounds on this ridiculous law. I have been inspecting vehicles for 30 years and many of the requirements are outdated. Being one of 4 states not allowing tint is a ridiculous. Look at all the out of state plates with tint driving through our state and yet our people can not tint those front windows at all. Obviously the police are not concerned as I have never seen as many NH vehicles with tint on them as I have this year yet they never get pulled over, so stop with the BS and just pass this.

  10. Bill says:

    I’m here from Florida with aftermarket tint at 27% on all windows except the windshield. This NH law is ridiculous and I really don’t care to remove my front side window tints to have my car pass inspection. Is a waiver available for out of State cars or if they are an antique?

    • Kk McFarland says:

      Thank goodness it passed b/c I just move to nh and I have tint on my front window b/c I get really bad headache when I drive so I bought a car down in Georgia when I lived there

  11. Jeff says:

    AZ has no restrictions on window tint, all cars from the dealership come with factory tint on all windows. NH is still in the 1980’s with most things, not being able to order a replacement license on the internet, dual license plates, minimum wage, etc. Living in NH is like being Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Time to get up to speed NH. Out with the old and in with the new.

  12. The Abominable Snowman says:

    Another point about window tinting not discussed is the health benefits of reducing harmful UV exposure. I would think the ability to protect oneself against skin cancer, premature aging, etc. should be a fundamental right.

  13. Steven says:

    It’s unreasonable to still not allow window tinting on the front windows, along with a darker percentage brow on the AS-1 line. The amount of hills and bends through many towns hinder drivers abilities to see on sunny days, along with many narrow roads that have small shops with citizens crossing the street. It would aid drivers to be less focused on reducing the sun glare via their hand, or dropping down a thick, nonreflective visor as they approach said areas, and instead be thoroughly and safely prepared for any situation as they drove. As well as on snowy days, where the streets and yards and sidewalks reflect the sunlight tremendously, window tinting can dramatically reduce lost visibility, or blindness in any direction they travel.

    Also, Many modern day vehicles already come equipped with HID or LED lights, reducing any difficulty they may have approaching a turn in the nighttime or seeing their surroundings.

    Break-ins to vehicles would dramatically be reduced if equipped with window tint. Burgulars do not want to be spending time struggling to see within a vehicles interior, or be seen shining a flashlight for much longer then a few seconds. As another without window tinting is a much more suitable choice and easier target.

    NH Law Enforcement need not fear any citizens side window visibility while operating a motor vehicle if they are following the rules of the road. When conducting traffic stops, the officer should not be under the premise that citizen may be a criminal or a danger to the officer/public’s safety for the darkness of their motor vehicles windows. People who choose to tint their vehicle are doing so for their own benefit and safety, and officers encounter many out-of-state vehicles during traffic stops which are sent along their way with no further issues.

  14. Mike says:

    So if tinted windows are not allowed on cars in the state of New Hampshire why is it that I’ve seen multiple cars I. E. State Police and Some Local Police Departments that have cars that have tinted out front windows I’m one they would love to have my windows tinted maybe not in a 35% but at least a little bit better than what it is about food from factory

  15. Dan says:

    I see that it passed, but it will now only allow 70% on the front driver and passenger. Any idea what the reasoning for 70% is? Doesn’t even seem worth it to tint the front windows to 70%.

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