In their latest meeting on November 16, 2023, the New Jersey Law Revision Commission (NJLRC) is actively examining potential amendments to the state’s window tinting laws, a move prompted by the long-standing ambiguity surrounding the current statutes.
The Commission, in its monthly meeting agenda, delved into the specifics of Title 39: Windshield Statute (N.J.S. 39:3-74), focusing on window tint traffic stops and citations. The discussion is based on a memorandum proposing a project to address whether amending N.J.S. 3:37-4, the “windshield statute,” would provide much-needed clarification.
This initiative reflects the NJLRC’s ongoing commitment to revising and simplifying New Jersey’s laws to better adapt to present social needs and enhance the administration of justice.
What Law is Getting Changed?
The focal point of the NJLRC’s attention is N.J.S. 39:3-74, the windshield statute, enacted over a century ago and last amended in 1937. The statute prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle with any “non-transparent material” on the front windshield or side windows.
This provision, predating the prevalence of automotive window tinting, has become the statutory basis for numerous window tint-related traffic stops and citations.
What is the New Jersey Law Revision Commission (NJLRC)?
The NJLRC, comprised of nine commissioners, plays a pivotal role in continuously examining New Jersey statutes and proposing revisions to maintain them in a revised, consolidated, and simplified form. The Commission’s goal is to enhance New Jersey’s legal framework, making it more adaptable to current societal needs.
In this specific undertaking, the NJLRC is poised to work on a project that could potentially influence the application of N.J.S. 39:3-74 and address the challenges posed by evolving legal interpretations, as seen in the Smith case.
The Commission, tasked with the periodic review of laws, lacks the authority to enact changes directly. Instead, their role involves making recommendations to the state Legislature, prompting a potential reevaluation of the existing tint laws in New Jersey.
Why is New Jersey Tint Law Getting Changed?
The impetus for this potential change in the tint law stems from recent legal precedents, most notably the case of New Jersey v. Smith. In this case, which reached the state Supreme Court in 2022, a driver was stopped for a purported tinted windows violation, leading to the discovery of a firearm in the vehicle.
The court ruled that the plain language of the windshield statute is confined to “non-transparent” tints on the front windshield and side windows, excluding rear window tints from its scope. This decision sparked a reevaluation of the existing tint laws, prompting the NJLRC to consider amendments for improved clarity.
Current New Jersey Tint Laws
Enacted in 2003, the current New Jersey window tint law lacks a clear definition of permissible tint levels, resulting in approximately 50,000 citations annually statewide.
N.J.S.A. 39:3-74, established in 1921 to prevent windshield obstructions, prohibits the operation of a vehicle with any “nontransparent material” on the front windshield or front side windows. Despite its age predating automotive window tinting, this statute commonly serves as the basis for tinted window citations.
Current New Jersey law restricts add-on tinting on windshields and front side windows of motor vehicles, except for individuals with medical conditions involving ophthalmic or dermatological photosensitivity. Earlier this year, a proposed bill S3858 aimed to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions by including migraines, allowing affected individuals to install tint on their vehicle windows.
Furthermore, NJ A3496 is another proposed bill that aims to clarifies law concerning permissible motor vehicle window tint.
None of these proposed bills and amendments aim to increase currently allowed window tint in NJ state.
Will I Be Able To Add Darker Tint in New Jersey Now?
These updates to New Jersey tint laws, even if they eventually make it into the Statutes, will not make any changes to the currently restrictive NJ tint laws. Instead, the aim is only to clarify the laws and remove any ambiguity.
Is There Any Hope For Front Windshield and Front Window Tinting in New Jersey?
In most states, tinting front windshield is not allowed. Tinting front side windows is often allowed to 70% VLT in many states.
Compared to most of United States, New Jersey’s laws are very restrictive. In fact, as we mentioned the laws on this haven’t changed in over 100 years.
These proposed laws will not make a significant impact for tint darkness restrictions. However, they may curtail potential abuse by law enforcement, and reduce traffic stops and citations.
New Jersey drivers can only hope that these revisions will eventually lead to more impactful changes to state’s tint laws.