Cracking down on tinting
PROSPERITY, SC — The Prosperity Police Department has noticed various vehicle equipment violations that are becoming a hazard to the driver and to other motorists, ranging from overly tinted windows to the alteration of headlights.
“People will do alterations to their vehicle without realizing that altering that vehicle, in many of the cases that we’re seeing, is illegal and that subjects them to potentially being stopped by law enforcement,” said Prosperity Police Chief David Beddingfield.
Beddingfield said many of the cases his officers are seeing are additional add-ons to vehicles, such as LED lighting or altering headlamps. Beddingfield also said a lot of the violations come from not displaying proper vehicle maintenance or placing illegal tinting on the vehicle.
South Carolina’s statute regarding window tint states that a sunscreening device to be applied to the rear-most window must be non-reflective and have a light transmission of not less than 20 percent. If a sunscreening device is used on the rear-most window, one right and one left outside rear view mirror is required.
This also applies to factory or manufacturer installed sunscreening material, which must not be less than 20 percent.
Another part of the statute states that each vehicle equipped with an after-factory sunscreening device, whether installed by a consumer or professional window tinter, must bear a certificate of compliance.
Each certificate of compliance must be attached to the vehicle inside the lower right hand corner of each window that has been tinted and must indicate the percentage of light transmission, the identity of the installer by name, address and number and date of installation.
A tinting company cannot install any sunscreening product or material on vehicles titled for use on public roads without the certificate of compliance affixed. A tinter who violates this is guilty of a misdemeanor that could result in a fine no less than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both, for each offense. The owner of the vehicle can also be charged and face being fined no less that $200 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days for each offense.
“These tickets are expensive, so I’m hoping by getting the word out as much as possible it will help people realize that they can do a simple fix on a vehicle and avoid being stopped,” said Beddingfield. “What we’re seeing with our officers is a lot of people get cited for a violation and they will become very angry and want to either complain or want the officer to either not address the situation or give them some form of special treatment. It’s only fair to the public that the police officer equally enforces the law for everyone, and that doesn’t matter who the person is. Everyone has to be treated equally and fairly.”
Beddingfield said that in many cases, if the violation is minor, the officer has the option of giving a warning citation. Generally they will issue a traffic citation and if it’s a first offense, will usually give them the opportunity to get the problem fixed prior to their court date with chances of getting the case dismissed.
“This formally addresses the situation and it gives the individual the opportunity to get their vehicle fixed in compliance with the law and the officer in turn dismisses the charge. This gives the individual freedom of mind that the problem has been fixed and addressed and now they don’t have to worry about being pulled over for an equipment violation because their car is in compliance,” said Beddingfield.
Officers with the Prosperity Police Department can determine if the tinting is legal or vehicle owners can go to sc.gov to see if there is a statue that regulates the deficiency with the person’s particular vehicle.
In most cases, officers will see violations where the person knows their vehicle isn’t in compliance, but they will still operate that vehicle in hopes that they won’t get pulled over.
“What they don’t realize is there is a reason why the state regulates these different equipment issues with vehicles, and it’s for safety purposes. Having a window tint that is too dark is dangerous for the officer because they can’t even see you, and that’s even worse at night,” said Beddingfield. “These laws aren’t here to try to harm people, it’s to help them keep their car in compliance because it is a safety issue. This is about getting the word out there and dealing with these significant concerns that need to be addressed.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews
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