Legislation would loosen window tint requirements for Iowa vehicles

By: - March 1, 2023 5:39 pm

Some law enforcement officers worry about not being able to see inside vehicles during traffic stops. (Photo by Douglas Sacha/Getty Images)

A bill that received an Iowa Senate committee’s approval on Wednesday would vastly increase the level of tint that is permissible for front vehicle windows in the state.

Iowa has among the strictest regulations about front window tint in the nation. Current administrative rules say front driver and passenger windows of a vehicle must allow 70% of light to shine through.

“The rule of thumb is if you can see any tint on the windows, it is too dark,” the Iowa State Patrol said in 2016.

That is similar to a handful of other states, including California and New York, although there are some in the Northeast that allow no tint at all.

Senate File 350 would decrease the required light transmittance to 25% in Iowa, comparable to what states such as Missouri and Texas allow.

Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, opposed the legislation and said state troopers who spoke at a subcommittee meeting for the bill worried about how it might affect traffic stops.

“It comes down to a safety issue, especially when someone is being stopped and the law enforcement officer cannot see inside the vehicle,” she said.

To allay that concern, the bill will likely be amended if it advances further to include a requirement for drivers with tinted front windows to lower them during traffic stops, said Sen. Adrian Dickey, R-Packwood.

He said it might also be amended to require about 35% transmittance rather than 25%.

The committee’s action keeps the bill alive for consideration by the full Senate. Due to a legislative committee deadline known as the “funnel,” most policy bills need approval from a full committee before the end of the week.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.