Lighten up


POSTED: Saturday, August 08, 2009

Question: Why doesn't there seem to be any enforcement of the illegal window tinting of vehicles on Oahu? I almost got into an accident with a car in which I couldn't see what was going on behind the illegally tinted windows.

Answer: Police are still enforcing the tint law for vehicles on Oahu, according to Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

She did not have recent statistics available, however officers issued 2,934 citations in 2004 for illegal tinting on motor vehicles, according to a 2005 Star-Bulletin article.

Former Gov. George Ariyoshi signed the state's auto glass tinting statute into law July 14, 1983. The law regulates what type of tint can be used and where tint can be applied on the vehicle.

The law varies for cars and trucks but states that side windows of vehicles must allow at least 35 percent of light in. Rear windows on cars require the same percentage; however, trucks with two side mirrors can have any tint percentage on rear windows.

The windshield of vehicles can have any percentage of nonreflective tint on the top four inches of the window only.

According to the state law, there are no exemptions that allow drivers to use darker-than-legal tint. The law also states that the front and back windows for any vehicle must not have a metallic or mirrored appearance.

The tinting law was created to provide motorists protection from the sun while maintaining a safe level of visibility, according to T&T Tinting Specialists.

Tommy Silva, co-author of Hawaii's tinting law and owner of T&T Tinting Specialists, said there are several dangers with extremely dark window tints. The main concern is the visibility for the driver so pedestrians don't get hit in crosswalks and to ensure that the driver can see during bad weather, Silva said.

He also mentioned the safety of police officers, who have to approach vehicles with dark tints not knowing what's behind the glass.

Auto shops are required to perform an annual light meter inspection during safety checks for drivers with window tints; however, there is no sticker to identify legal tints.

Silva said the current fine for illegal tinting is $275 a violation, which can be determined by the officer. In some cases, violators can be charged $275 a window. Auto shops that perform illegal tints receive a $1,000 fine per vehicle.

Despite the harsh fines, Silva said that he gets requests for illegal tinting almost every day.

“;It kind of spiked after the cell phone law came into place. People want to hide behind the dark tints so cops can't see the cell phones, I guess,”; he said.

According to Silva, police can pull drivers over if they suspect the window tint is illegal.

Question: Can we make the Honolulu Police Department a beneficiary of a will? If we wanted to bequeath something to HPD for them to use as they wish, how would we go about this?

Answer: HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu recommends that a person who would like to support the department contact the Honolulu Police Relief Association or the Honolulu Police Community Foundation.

You can name either group in your will. The community foundation is a nonprofit, so any donation is tax deductible.

HPRA has supported current and retired members of HPD since 1932. The objectives of the association are to provide life insurance, health insurance and grants in aid for members in need, and to raise funds to meet the stated objectives. All HPD employees are members and do not pay membership dues, unless they are participating in the insurance program.

The HPCF is not affiliated with the HPD, but works to foster the relationship between the department and the community; improve the services, organization and performance of HPD; and advance the education of youths, according to its Web site. The organization also offers scholarships to high school students entering a four-year accredited university.

If interested in donating to either of these organizations, call HPRA at 942-3873 and HPCF at 942-1400.

”;Kokua Line's”; June Watanabe is on leave. Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).