A man tries to see through a tinted car window. Stock photo by Getty Images
Tinted windows can be a great feature. They help keep the car a
bit cooler, screen out harmful UV radiation and protect the car’s
interior. Also, they look pretty cool.
The law, however, is less appreciative of how cool your car looks and your dark windows could be illegal.
It’s an often-overlooked problem when buying a car.
Manufacturers adhere to federal standards, but dealers or previous
owners could install after-market tints, which are regulated by
Those laws vary in several respects, including which windows
you can tint and how dark they can be. In general, you can tint your
rear windows and rear windshield as much as you like, although a few
Nova Scotia allows no rear windshield tinting, except for what
came from the manufacturer — typically a small bar at the top of the
In Manitoba, the rear windows must allow 35 per cent of light
to penetrate. Some police will carry photometers or light readers that
allow them to measure that percentage.
Front windows and windshields that don’t allow you to see
inside the car are illegal in virtually every province and territory in
Some provinces allow a certain degree of tinting, but others ban it outright.
Traffic laws in Quebec stipulate windows must let in 70 per
cent of the light. Ontario doesn’t prescribe a specific percentage, but
windows should not be so dark that police can’t make out the driver’s
face or see properly inside the vehicle. This can make a ticketable tint
entirely at the officer’s discretion.
Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan don’t permit any front-window tinting at all.
Those laws exist primarily for safety reasons. Drivers need the
ability to make eye contact with each other and with pedestrians, and
police want drivers to be visible as well.
Unfortunately, those laws apply as soon as you drive into the
province. Your legal-in-Ontario tints could still get a ticket in Nova
Scotia, so be aware of the laws and don’t be too shady on the roadways.
Ontario Highway Traffic Act
Standards of Vehicle Equipment Regulations (Nova Scotia)