Most drivers would assume that police are more likely to pull over for speeding than tinted windows. If they’re driving in NYC, they’d be wrong. New data from Transportation Alternatives (TA), an advocacy group for cyclists in NYC, shows that the NYPD issued more tickets for tinted windows in the first five months of 2016 than for speeding or failure to yield combined.
TA’s report breaks down the number of tickets for window tints by precinct. The figures vary, with some, like the 73rd precinct in Brooklyn, issuing as many as eight times more tickets for tinted windows than for speeding – 1,257 compared to 162.
The report is intended as a criticism of the NYPD’s priorities when it comes to issuing traffic tickets. After all, TA notes, tinted windows are rarely a factor in traffic accidents. According to the report, in 2014, only 20 auto accidents occurred where window tints were a factor. Comparatively, 3,491 accidents involved unsafe speed and 6,966 involved a failure to yield the right of way to either a pedestrian or another vehicle. Even “animal actions” were responsible for 50 accidents that same year and 23 accidents were caused by eating or drinking (non-alcoholic beverages) behind the wheel.
While the report is a sharp rebuke, the trend is nothing new. In 2011, TA issued a report stating that the NYPD issued four times as many tickets for window tints as for speeding. A separate report by the NY Daily News shows that in 2012 officers issued almost twice as many citations for window tints as speeding.
Why do police issue so many tickets for window tints? Some argue it is because they are easy violations to spot. However, there’s real risk to such traffic stops, especially in light of recent events. If an officer can’t clearly see inside of a vehicle, he or she won’t know if the driver or a passenger had a gun.
Under New York State law, the windshield and front side windows must let 70% of the light through to be considered a legal tint. The same rule applies to the rear window unless the vehicle is equipped with rear-outside mirrors. Cops are technically required to measure a window using a tint meter, although for very dark windows an officer can sometimes rely on a visual inspection.
Tickets for tinted windows are notoriously difficult to fight and fines run about $80 per window. By comparison, a speeding ticket costs hundreds of dollars and carries at least 3 points on your licence, sometimes more.
If you are a loved one has been ticketed for speeding, tinted windows, or any other driving-related offense in New York, it is advisable that you retain an attorney to help fight the charges. Adam H. Rosenblum of the Rosenblum Law Firm is an experienced criminal defense and traffic ticket attorney with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email him or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.