Vehicle Code 26708 VC - Window Tinting

Vehicle Code 26708 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to engage in “window tinting.” This means either placing a material or object:

  • directly in the windshield of a car, or its side or rear window; or,
  • anywhere else in the car if it obstructs the driver's view.

Examples of illegal acts under VC 26708 include:

  • Monique affixes window tint to the windshield of her Honda Accord.
  • Albert displays a large sign on his dashboard, and it obstructs his view through the windshield.
  • Pablo applies a special coating onto his van's rear window that effectively makes it impossible to see out of.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of window tinting. These include showing that:

  • an object or material did not obstruct a driver's view,
  • there was an exemption under VC 26708, and
  • there was no probable cause to stop or arrest the driver.

Penalties

Two things can happen if a person violates Vehicle Code 26708. The first is that he may get assessed a fine of $25.00 and ordered to remove any window tinting.

The second is that the person may get charged with an infraction (as opposed to a misdemeanor or felony) and that person must, resultingly, pay a fine of $197.00.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

car tinted windows
Vehicle Code 26708 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to engage in “window tinting.”

1. What is the legal definition of window tinting?

Vehicle Code 26708 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to engage in “window tinting.” Under VC 26708, a person is guilty of an offense if he places an object or material:

  • directly in the windshield of a car, or its side or rear window; or,
  • anywhere else in the car if it obstructs the driver's view through the windshield or side windows.1

2. Legal Defenses

A person can try to challenge a VC 26708 accusation by raising a legal defense. A legal defense may work to reduce or dismiss a charge.

Three common defenses to Vehicle Code 26708 charges include:

  1. no obstruction;
  2. exemption; and/or,
  3. no probable cause.

2.1 No obstruction

Please recall that a person is only guilty under VC 26708(a)(2) if he places an object in or upon a vehicle and it obstructs the driver's view. This means it is always a valid defense for an accused to show that while he may have put an object or material on or inside a car, it in no way obstructed the driver's view (e.g., maybe he hung a graduation tassel on a rear-view mirror).

2.2 Exemption

There are certain situations exempted from criminal liability under VC 26708(b). Some of these include:

  • hanging items from the side windows to the rear of the driver, and
  • attaching certain sun screening devices to the side windows of a vehicle.

If a defendant can show that his acts fit into one of these exemptions, then he has a clear defense to any VC 26708 violation accusation.

2.3 No probable cause

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest a suspect of a crime.

If a person was stopped or arrested for violating VC 26708, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

traffic ticket tinted windows
A violation of this law can result in a fine

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

Two things can happen if a person violates Vehicle Code 26708. The first is that he may get assessed a fine of $25.00 and ordered to remove any window tinting.2

Or, the second is that the person may get charged with an infraction and that person must, resultingly, pay a fine of $197.00.3

Please note that no points will be assessed to a person's DMV driving record upon a Vehicle Code 26708 violation.

4. Related offenses

There are three laws related to tinting windows in California. These are:

  1. altering, changing, or destroying a VIN – VC 10750;
  2. failure to signal -VC 22108; and,
  3. tailgating – VC 21703.

4.1 Altering, changing, or destroying a VIN – VC 10750

California Vehicle Code 10750 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to intentionally alter, change or destroy a vehicle identification number (VIN).

The crime of altering or changing a VIN is charged as a California misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by:

  • up to one year in county jail; and/or,
  • a fine of up to $1,000.4

4.2 Failure to signal -VC 22108

According to California Vehicle Code 22108 VC, drivers must signal before turning or changing lanes.

Under VC 22108, motorists must give a signal at least 100 feet before they turn or change lanes.5

A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22108 must pay a fine of $238.00.6

A motorist that does not signal also receives one point on his DMV driving record. A driver risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.

4.3 Tailgating – VC 21703

California Vehicle Code 21703 states that drivers in California cannot follow vehicles too closely.

Drivers are tailgating if they are following more closely than what is reasonable and prudent. The determination of what is, or is not, reasonable and prudent depends on all the circumstances of a given case.7

The fine for violating Vehicle Code 21703 is $238. A driver that tailgates will also receive one point on his DMV record.8

Were you accused of tinting your windows in California? Call us for help…

california window tinting defense attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Vehicle Code 26708 VC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 26708(a)(1) and (a)(2) VC. These code sections state:

    “(a) (1) A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or rear windows.

    (2) A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied in or upon the vehicle that obstructs or reduces the driver's clear view through the windshield or side windows.”

  2. See DMV.org.

  3. See same.

  4. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  5. California Vehicle Code 22108 VC.

  6. See DMV.org.

  7. Gornstein v. Priver, 64 Cal. App. 249.

  8. See DMV.org

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