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Court Battle Brews Over Tinted Car Window Laws

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An ordinance in the city of Chicago makes it illegal for cars to have tinted windows on the front driver's side and front passenger's side, even though state law allows some tinting of those windows, as long as the driver can see through them. (Credit: CBS)

An ordinance in the city of Chicago makes it illegal for cars to have tinted windows on the front driver’s side and front passenger’s side, even though state law allows some tinting of those windows, as long as the driver can see through them. (Credit: CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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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.

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