Briefing Room: tinted windows and pedestrian safety

Hi Lt. Nicholas,

Your recent “Briefing Room” article discussed the rules for cars and pedestrians moving into a pedestrian crosswalk. You recommended that motorists and pedestrians “Stop, Look, and Wave.”

My husband and I enjoy walking around our delightful town. We often encounter vehicles with deeply tinted windows and windshields, making eye contact with drivers impossible.

My first question: What do you recommend pedestrians do who wish to cross the street when they cannot see the driver?

My second question: What are the rules regarding tinted windows on driven vehicles, and how are the rules enforced?

My third question: What are the rules for vehicles with tinted windows parked on city streets and how are these rules enforced?

Thank you!



Hi Linda,

Thank you so much for your email. These are really great questions. I also enjoy walking around our delightful town. There’s not much better than grabbing a coffee from one of our great coffee shops and taking a stroll down Main Street. Sometimes I can even convince Sergeant Gray to buy me a Nick’s burrito (try it with mushrooms!).

You’re right that sometimes pedestrians encounter a vehicle with tinted windows when at an intersection. Sometimes the sun is shining at just the right angle and you can’t see into the car. If you are ever in these situations, always assume that the vehicle does not see you. Take an extra few moments to ensure that the vehicle is actually going to yield for you to cross. When in doubt, let the vehicle proceed through the intersection first and then go when it is safe.

California Vehicle Code §26708 states (in part) that “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.” However, there are several exceptions located within this section. For instance, a sun screen device may be “installed on the side windows on either side of the vehicle’s front seat, if the driver or a passenger in the front seat has in his or her possession a letter or other document signed by a licensed physician and surgeon certifying that the person must be shaded from the sun due to a medical condition…” Also, some tinting is permitted if “The material has a minimum visible light transmittance of 88 percent.”

So do we enforce illegally tinted windows? Yes. Generally, if an officer cannot see into the passenger compartment of the vehicle, it is probably too dark.

As far as vehicles parked on the street, these laws do not apply. They only apply when the vehicle is being driven. That’s why you will sometimes see the sun shades that people put in their windshield when the car is parked.

Linda, thanks again for your great question. Would you please encourage your friends to send me other questions at Thanks!