Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Don’t clutter
car windows
with stickers

Question: I recently took my car in for servicing and was told that my safety check was outdated. My car is in perfect condition, but I was taken aback when I was told my car could not qualify for the safety tag because of bumper stickers on my back windows. It was a "safety" issue. I bought the car in 1999 and never before was told this was a problem. What has happened from then to now? The same stickers have been on my car for years, except two new ones that state "No Blood for Oil" and "Peace." They are both placed on the right side of my windows and do not impede my vision. Are our First Amendment rights being overlooked by such an "ordinance" or policy?

Answer: It has nothing to do with expressing your beliefs and everything to do with safety as laid out in state and city laws, says Dennis Kamimura, head of the city's Division of Motor Vehicles & Licensing.

"The safety inspector was correct in requiring the removal of the stickers to the back window and right side window in order to pass the safety check," he said. He said you should not have been issued a safety sticker on previous inspections if the stickers were nontransparent and obstructing the driver's "clear view."

Kamimura cited both state and city laws on the matter:

» Section 19-133.2-34(b)(5), state Department of Transportation Safety Inspection Rules, says a safety inspection certificate shall not be issued if "decals or stickers are displayed on the glazing material in areas not permitted by law, ordinances, or rules."

» Section 15-19.30, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, states, "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 such vehicle which obstructs the driver's clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway."

"On the rear window, the entire rear window would apply except for that part of the rear window that is directly behind the head of the driver," Kamimura said.

Regarding side windows, he said drivers wanting to change lanes or leave a parking space on the left side of a one-way street should use the right side mirror and also turn their heads to look through both the front and rear side windows to determine if the lane is clear before proceeding.

"If stickers were placed on the right side windows, the stickers would be an obstruction," he explained. "Logically, stickers on the left rear side window would not obstruct the driver's clear view since there is no way the driver could turn and see outside the left rear side window."

That all said, Kamimura said the ordinance does allow for exceptions granted by the chief of police. As far as he knows, the only exception is for military decals, which are allowed to be placed behind the rear view mirror and on the bottom left portion of the front windshield. In either location, these stickers do not obstruct the driver's view, he said.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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 kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com