Court Battle Brews Over Tinted Car Window Laws

CHICAGO (CBS) — A warning to residents, commuters, visitors, and even those just passing through Chicago: A popular decoration for your car could net you a $250 fine.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, there is a brewing court battle to get rid of the ordinance makes tinted windows a violation in several cities.

It’s the everyday act of driving her only car that makes Jinne English nervous.

“Who wants to drive worried about being pulled over,” English said.

English could get pulled over any minute for the tinted windows on her car. She’s violating a Chicago ordinance that bans tinted windows on the front driver’s side and passenger’s side.

She recently got a $250 ticket when her car was parked outside of her office in Beverly.

“I am really, one, confused, and two, really upset.” English said.

English’s confused because while the city ordinance says you can’t have any tinting in the front windows, the state laws allows a percentage of tinting as long as you can see through it. She bought the car used with the windows already tinted. The tint helps keep the car cooler, she said.

“I thought if you’re in the state of Illinois, every city should adhere to the Illinois law,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Attorney Thomas Glasgow agrees.

He’s filed a complaint against the city and is working pro-bono to try and get the courts to force Chicago and other municipalities with tougher tint laws to follow the same rules.

Oak Lawn, Morton Grove and Carbondale have ordinances similar to Chicago.

“The difference means you don’t know whether or not you’re legal from one place to the next,” Glasgow said.

So commuters, visitors and tourists heading into Chicago with tinted front windows: beware.

“They can ticket you, they can fine you, they can stop you,” said Glasgow.

According to the city’s response to Glasgow’s complaint, Chicago has a right to make tougher ordinances, if needed. And in this case, Chicago police argue they need to be able to see into the front windows for safety reasons.

“The stereotype of the tinted windows has evolved,” English said. “I am not a drug dealer. I don’t do anything illegal. I am psychotherapist. I have four kids.”

In a statement, city officials said they favor the ordinance because, “Tinted windows pose a real safety risk for officers and the general public. An officer needs to be able to see inside a vehicle when conducting a traffic stop.”

Glasgow says the Illinois Appellate Court is expected to make a decision sometime next month.

More from Dorothy Tucker
  • What a waste

    How much of a threat does an empty, parked car pose? Not much. On the other hand, how much extra revenue is that empty, parked car worth to the city? $250! I don’t feel any safer because of that law.

    • burbanites

      But you dont know its a threat because you cant see in it. what if something is going on and you approach the car and get blasted? Now your going to blame the tinted windows. Next loser!

      • Peter N

        Illinois was the absolute last state to allow front window tinting. Does that mean our police are less competent than police in New York and LA?


    Money making scams designed to pump as much money into cops getting their multi million dollar pensions. THat’s why speed limit is 55 MPH. Not a single person drives that slow so cops can pull over anyone without a reason. Why do we let these crooks control us?

    • Fed Up

      @MOONMAC: So cops shouldn’t get a pension. Cops don’t make the law they enforce them. Some laws are ridiculous. It’s the city trying to generate money. Not Cops. Why doesn’t someone talk about firefighters or teachers. They get pensions too. Do me a favor, don’t call 911 when you need them.

    • Silver

      Laws are created because of morons like you.

  • BeeKay

    And why isn’t the tinted windows a FREEDOM OF SPEECH issue? After all, people are expressing themselves with tinted windows.

  • Tuco

    People should not fear the government. Government should fear the people.

  • Michael

    I have dark tinted windows all the way around on a 2008 Mazda Hatchback, I bought the vehicle from a Florida owner and it was already ‘dressed’, it looks really neat and does keep the car cooler inside. However, I have been stopped two times in two years, both were early morning when I was on the way home, and no tickets, we just talked and I answered the questions,, no problem- however,,,,, I have enough brains to know that when stopped for-whatever- I have the dark windows and the Officer cannot see in, so BEFORE he gets out of the car, I drop both windows on the driver side —period. I don’t care what the current law is for where I am,or why I was stopped, I KNOW he can’t see inside, and that is where all the problems come from. Anybody with the tint —-WAKE UP, it is mostly a probable casue stop to see who you are and what you are doing, if you help-you go home. If you make a constitutional rights issue, it’s gonna get expensive.

  • burbanites

    Tinted windows have been banned since I was a kid and I’m reaching my 40’s. Get over it, it isn’t anything new. They made the law because gang banging is deep in Chicago. You don’t like it move back to your suburb. All the people who complain about Chicago are either not from this state or never been to Chicago in their whole lives because they were stuck in the burbs. And the law states it’s just your driver and passenger window. It also states you may have tints but you have to be able to see through them at night. Learn the law and stop btching!

  • Tunsiss

    I love tinted windows; they rock!

  • J

    If you’re making a turn to get out into traffic and a car is next to you with the dark tinted windows it is a safety issue. Other drivers can’t see through or around them to proceed into traffic.

    • Me

      @J…I can’t see through that monster SUV sitting next to me either…so what’s ur point? Ban monster SUVs?

      • Monster SUVs Suck and So Do the Fat Pigs Who Drive Them

        Uhh… yes.

      • Me

        Hey Monster… I agree with you on the banning of the SUVs but its not because I can’t see around them. :)

        BTW…love ur handle.

  • Romney

    and this is why I take metra into the city, wait! their windows are tinted too, I wonder how much that fine would be. anywho. if you live outside the city there should be able to have tints, you arn’t reg in the city, you don’t live in the city, keep your laws off my car!!!!!!

    • Martin

      Just like Me pointed out…if my state doesn’t require insurance I shouldn’t have to provide it when Illinois. I’ve gotten out of the stupid insurance requirements 3 times in your sucky state.

      • Roberta Waker

        @Martin. Have an accident in Chicago or Illinois without insuranc; they will impound your car and send you to jail. Three times? Think your luck will run out soon. If you don’t like our laws, don’t come here to our “sucky” state.

  • G-Lep

    People with names like “Just Axin” have tinted windows.

  • derpderp

    Chicago is always used to making up their own laws for monetary gain, what’s new…..

  • deb

    I see it as a another revenue making stream. The ticket used to be $50 – a couple of years ago it went up to $250. My car had tinted windows for 15 years and I never had a problem until it went up to $250. You get a ticket and you are automatically guilty and CAN’T contest it. Oh yes, I’m a big threat – my car was sitting parked on a side street during the day.

  • malcom

    I guess the next money grab is having your doors locked

  • darrell jefferson

    Gang bangers drive with tinted windows all the time. Thats how they pull off their crimes. every weekend someone gets shot. are the police looking for them too? or just ANY car with tinted windows? where aren’t the bangers in jail? they should be as easy to find if they are looking for them.

  • BK

    Gimme a break. Chicago cops aren’t going to pull you over for tinted windows unless there’s a donut stuck to the outside. Those guys ignore minor traffic offenses all day long, like not wearing your seatbelt or talking on your handheld cell phone, unless they’ve specifically set up an “enforcement zone”. Another reason why living in the city sucks. You can have it. Everything costs a small fortune, and everything is a game rigged to line the city coffers. By the way, in the city, the vagrants will break into your car if you have tinted windows. Why? Because they want to see if there’s anything good inside. I know – it happened to my SUV 3 times in 5 years, once while parked in a patrolled parking garage. Moved out of the city 6 years ago and couldn’t be happier. Hope that attorney takes these rogue towns to task – adhere to state law!

    • Silver

      BK, sound like your perfect, thank god there is someone that never commits a traffic violation.

  • Tint Advocate

    I have tints. They keep the drug dealers and crack heads from seeing inside my car and potentially breaking into it. Tinted windows provide security protection for Chicago’s civilians. Who cares about “police safety” with 10,000 annual car thefts/break-ins in Chicago with zero arrests to show for it. Cops can have fun writing a ticket but it beats walking out to your car with a broken window bc another drug fiend saw an ipod cord and wanted to get his son an early Christmas present.

    • Cynic

      Tints keep thieves out? I’d think they would break the window to see what is inside. Then again, I don’t leave my cords or other ‘valuable’ items hanging around for the world to see.

  • Obama's Mama

    You know what they say, once you’ve had blacked out windows, you never go back!

    This argurement is so miniscule in the grand scheme of life, let’s focus on the real criminals: Congress!

  • Aaron

    you need to see inside a vehicle while doing a traffic stop?
    i believe that’s why the windows roll down and cops have bright spotlights that shine right through the window tint

  • Richard

    I found this website that gives us a template to fight this ticket. Apparently the guy who put it on the website got his ticket dismissed and is sharing his template with everyone.

  • Spookiest spook

    All windows in Englewood look tinted. Then again, so do the people.

  • Facebook ILHB3325

    There is a few points to be made in this discussion and I am going to make them.
    Before that, I want to note that I know the IL State Law and the Chicago Ordinance because I have been following this situation closely since early 2009 and especially since October 2009 when the IL Law went into effect.

    The issue with Chicago’s ordinance is that they apply this ordinance to any vehicle whether or not it is registered in the city. The ticket and fine has been applied to cars that are registered outside of the state of IL and have legal tint in their respective state. The fact that vehicle tint is regarded as an equipment violation if the tint is too dark makes Chicago’s claim of “Home Rule” jurisdiction over the state law highly suspect. Yes, Chicago has “Home Rule” status but the powers under “Home Rule” are spelled out in the IL constitution and apply to certain situations. Chicago lawmakers are treating Home Rule as a “carte blanche” to make any law above and beyond that of IL State Law and that is the issue here. Not only that, once the legislation hit the State Assembly about allowing front tint, Chicago voted to increase the tint fine from $25 per incident to the allowed maximum of $250 per incident (hence the revenue generation argument)

    ANYONE that complies with the state law and tints their vehicle in accordance with IL state law and then drives to Chicago or any other city with a tint ordinance is subject to the fine. ANYONE that has tint on a car that is registered out of state and has tint allowed by their state is subject to the same fine if they enter Chicago or any of the other tint ordinance cities.

    If the people that have tint and are considerate for the Officer’s safety as well as their own lower their windows at a traffic stop and turn on the dome light if at night, then the issues might subside.

    People are all bent out of shape about right nowadays… The State of IL gives us a right and the City of Chicago is trying to take it away!

    • Roberta Waker

      I agree that Chicago has overstepped its legal authority. They have NO right to take STATE refund money for fines; nor do they have the right to take your pension money for Chicago fines. State money belongs to Illinois and only the Governor and State reps should determine who gets it. As far as taking your pension for fines; that shouldn’t be legal either; unless you sign on the dotted line that it’s ok to take this money like you do when purchasing something. Chicago needs to become it’s own State and leave the rest of Illinois alone. PERIOD.

      • Me

        Regarding the fines being paid for by State taxes…the State Assmbly and our esteemed Governor passed and signed a law stating that Any city or municipality can file court papers proving that you owe fines, etc to that municipality, then your taxes can be used. For the most part, this is no different than Child Support or other Court defined payments.

        Do I think its right, not really. But I pay just enough taxes that I write a $0-$5 check every March to the State..

  • derpderp

    I’m surprised Chicago isn’t it’s own separate state yet. They obviously have no regard to State law’s.

    • Roberta Waker

      @derpderp. I couldn’t agree more. All Chicago does is cause problems for the rest of the State, which they are trying to run. Chicago needs to be its own country and leave the rest of Illinois alone.

  • mitsubishi miev

    I do not even know how I ended up here, however I thought this post used to be good. I don’t know who you are however certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already. Cheers!

  • Tinted Windows: Chicago vs. Illinois | RYK Law

    […] make sense to me, since the State’s law allows it.  Thankfully, the City’s ordinance has been appealed and a decision should be rendered (hopefully) soon by the Appellate […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live