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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, June 30, 2000


State allows darker
tint on car windows

Question: I have a complaint about safety checks for car window tinting. They give you a test if you have tint on the windows, but I see some brand-new trucks with new safety checks and the tint on the windows is so dark you can't even see the driver. Are they getting special treatment?

Q: I have an El Camino with slightly tinted windows and have to pay $5 extra every time I get a safety inspection. Meanwhile, I see brand new cars and trucks on the road with illegally dark windows. Who's enforcing the tinting law?

Answer: It does seem as though many vehicles on the road these days have windows that are extraordinarily dark, but the state allows heavy tinting. Whether the tinting exceeds government standards is supposed to be determined primarily through annual safety inspections.

In a previous Kokua Line column, John Lovstedt, the state Department of Transportation's highway safety manager, explained that while the federal standard is for about 75 percent light transmittance from a vehicle's windows, the state is satisfied with only 35 percent transmittance.

That's because the state is concerned not so much with visibility, but with "heat in vehicles."

No matter how light your tint, whether done at the factory or an "after-market application," safety inspectors are required to check the tinting; hence the extra $5 charge, said David Mau, city assistant administrator for motor vehicles and licensing.

If light meters show the tinting is too dark, inspectors will not issue the safety decal. "What's normally said is to remove the tint," Mau said. "That happens a lot."

In fact, Mau said, people have complained that they were "coerced" by safety inspection stations to remove the tinting.

While the annual safety checks are supposed to be the primary enforcement point for window tinting, police can issue a citation if they believe the tinting may be illegal, Mau said.

In that case, the owner is told to go to the city Reconstructed Vehicle Permit Station in Kapahulu, which also is equipped with light meters, for testing. Depending on what happens there, the tint is allowed or has to be removed.

Mau also explained that "bona fide commercial vehicles" have a different standard for tinting and may have a darker tint in rear windows.

Q: How much do Oahu residents pay for electricity by the kilowatt hour?

A: For the month of June, the charge is about 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour on Oahu, according to Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman Fred Kobashikawa.

The cost differs depending on what island you're on.

"The 13 cents includes a fuel oil adjustment clause, which goes up and down," Kobashikawa said. That's why the per-kilowatt charge may vary from month to month. In addition to that charge, there is a $7 per month customer charge assessed every Heco customer, Kobashikawa said.

You can get information about Heco and electrical issues -- albeit not kilowatt charges -- by checking the company Web site, http://www.heco.com

Auwe

To the man and two girls who loaded their car with mangoes they took from the house across from Diamond Head Theatre the evening of June 9. They were laughing and running with arms full of mangoes they put in their car, going back for five more armfuls. Shame on you! What goes around, comes around. -- No name





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