Complicated rules govern vehicle decals
I searched the state's Web site but couldn't find anything addressing rear window signs for businesses on vehicles. We live in Kona and would like to know what, if any, the official policy by the state is on business signs/decals on vehicles. Is it allowed? If so, are there specifications to meet the state requirement?
Answer: It depends on the motor vehicle; state laws do not differentiate between vehicles used for business or personal purposes.
Yours is a difficult question to answer because different vehicles have different requirements, said an official with the state Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Safety Division.
Under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, for vehicles built on a car chassis, for example, manufacturers are not allowed to tint the windshield below a certain mark -- the "AS-1" mark -- while all other windows must have at least 70 percent light transmittance, the transportation official said.
However, vehicles built on a truck chassis do not have requirements for light transmittance for windows behind the driver, but are required to have two outside mirrors, he said.
"Hawaii has a law that allows motorists to operate their cars with tinting that allows 35 percent light transmittance on any window except the windshield," he said. "Vehicles built on a truck chassis can have tint that allows 35 percent light transmittance on the front side windows, but the windows behind the driver have no transmittance requirement."
What does tinting have to do with a "sign"?
"Suppose I put tint on the back window of my car in a manner that the tint spells 'The End,'" the transportation official explained. "That could be considered as a sign, but it would be legal if the tint permitted 35 percent light transmittance."
You can get more details by checking Chapter 291-21.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes., which deals with sun-screening devices on motor vehicles. That section says that restrictions do not apply to "Signs, stickers, or other materials ... displayed in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or signs, stickers, or other materials which are displayed in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest the driver."
"Stickers and decals in other areas of the windshield and windows are addressed by county ordinances, which are very similar between counties," the transportation official said.
The ordinances for Hawaii County (Section 24-102) state, "No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, side wings, or side or rear windows of the vehicle which obstructs the driver's clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway."
There are other specifications regarding where posters/stickers and nontransparent materials or objects can be placed.
You are advised to contact Big Island officials for clarification of the county law.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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