Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why are there inequalities in MD Tint laws?

I don't mind being limited to 35% transmissive tint on the front side windows of my cars, but why must I be limited to 35% on the rear and rear-side windows (even in the rabbit) where a PT Cruiser can have tint as dark as it wants on the back window? The body style is very similar to a 4-door rabbit. Or how about a Jetta Wagon vs a Dodge Magnum. Jetta Wagon, 35% all around. Magnum - 35% up front, whatever on the rest. Why? Because the PT Cruiser is a "Truck" and the Magnum is an "SUV" while the Rabbit and Jetta Wagon are Passenger cars. Confused yet?

I wrote an email to my Maryland State Senate Representative requesting that the laws regarding window tint be changed. Why? I am not trying to hide anything illegal or anything. I just want all drivers to be treated equally, and I enjoy how much cooler the interior of the car is when all of the back windows have 5% tint and the front have 35%. (In Germany, the 3-series had 5% back but no tint on the front because front side window tint was not allowed).

Below is the email that I wrote to Senator Pipkin in it's entirety. If you live in MD, and agree with me, email your local representative(s). I only contacted Senator Pipkin at this point, but there are also three members in the House of Representatives for my district as well. Oh, and yes, I REALLY did look up the exact regulations. If you have any questions about that let me know.
Senator Pipkin,

I am a fairly new constituent in your district, but I was hoping you could possibly address an issue that I view as an unnecessary inequality in regards to Maryland Motor Vehicle tint law. Per sub-section i, paragraph 1 of section 22-406 of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, passenger cars may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window of the vehicle any tinting materials added to the window after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%". In comparison, multipurpose vehicles, trucks and Class B (for hire) vehicles may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window to the immediate right or left of the driver any window tinting materials added after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%."

While I have no problem with the restriction of 35% tint on the front driver and passenger windows for all vehicles; I feel that all vehicle classes should be required to follow the same regulations. The laws do not even apply as intended in several cases because manufacturers have changed the classification of their vehicles to be able to use the more lenient rules. Subaru changed the classification of their Outback wagon to a light truck in part because of customer demand for factory tinted windows. http://www.thecarconnection.com/article/1005582_subaru-outback-counts-as-a-truck. The PT-Cruiser is also classified as a truck. The truck designation of those brands also allows them to have lower fuel efficiency ratings than if they were cars. The Dodge Magnum, which exactly matches what used to be viewed as a station wagon, is classified as a sport utility vehicle (multi-purpose vehicle) even though it shares many of the same body panels and the same chassis as the Dodge Charger sedan.

By comparison, I own a 4-door diesel sedan that averages over 40 miles-per-gallon and a 3-door hatchback that averages around 30 mpg, but because I am driving "passenger" cars I am limited to 35% tint on all windows. All I am asking for is fair and equal treatment under the Maryland law. As can be seen in my choice of vehicles, I am very interested in using efficient vehicles. Unfortunately, the glass surfaces of these vehicles are rather large, which allows a substantial amount of sunlight into the vehicle that in turn warms the cabin. In the summer months, the efficiency of my vehicles is effected by the amount that I must use the air-conditioning in the car. While I know I won't be magically driving around without air-conditioning during the hottest days of the summer, I would like to be able to place tint with 5% light transmission around the back windows of the vehicle rather than 35%. From experience, I can say it made a large difference while we were stationed overseas in Germany where the tint laws allowed us to place 5% on the rear windows while we were there.

I can understand that an argument can be made for police officer safety during traffic stops. If police officer safety is the true motivation, then the laws affecting vehicles that are in the more lenient classification should be changed. Other measures could be enacted that would counteract any perceived danger to officers during a traffic stop such as a requirement to turn on interior lighting when pulled over by law enforcement. While it is a courtesy that all motorists should observe for the safety and comfort of the officer, my observations suggest that it is something that is not practiced widely. If the officer is concerned for their safety, they also have the option to have the occupants exit the vehicle, or roll down all of the windows in the vehicle. I am not trying to overlook officer safety, but if it were such an important issue, the laws in states such as Deleware and Utah wouldn't allow any type of tint on the rear side and rear facing windows.

While the current economic situation combined with uncertainty over fuel prices has lead to a sharp decrease in the sale of true sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, as I pointed out before there are still other vehicles that are being placed in those categories that people think of as a station wagons. That can also lead to confusion with law enforcement pulling over a vehicle for "illegal" tint levels even though the levels are acceptable simply because of the class in which the manufacturer placed the vehicle. It can also lead to citizens assuming that darker tint is allowable for their vehicle because their neighbor has an almost identical vehicle, just with a hatch on the back rather than a trunk.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and consider my request.

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