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If you’ve been wondering how dark you can legally tint your car windows in Hawaii, you’re not alone. Window tint laws can be confusing but we’re here to clear things up.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The legal limit for window tint darkness in Hawaii is 35% VLT (visible light transmittance) for the front side windows and 20% VLT for the back side and rear windows.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Hawaii’s window tint law, including an overview of the specifics on allowable VLT percentages for different windows, medical exemptions, and what the consequences are for breaking the legal tint limit.

Hawaii’s Window Tint Law

Front Side Windows

Hawaii law allows window tint that blocks up to 35% of light on the front side windows. This includes the windshield and front driver/passenger windows. Going darker than 35% on these windows is illegal. The 35% VLT (visible light transmission) rule helps ensure proper visibility for safe driving.

Back Side and Rear Windows

For the back seat side windows and rear window, any darkness tint is allowed. So you can install 5% limo tint or even darker privacy tint on these windows if you want. Just don’t go darker than 35% VLT on the front windows.

Medical Exemptions

There is a medical exemption to Hawaii’s window tint law. With a doctor’s note verifying a medical condition that requires extra tint, you can get an exemption permit from the police allowing darker tint on the front windows.

Common qualifying conditions are lupus, migraines triggered by sunlight, and reactions to sunlight due to medications.

Measuring VLT Percentage

When it comes to tint laws, one of the most important measurements is VLT percentage, which stands for Visible Light Transmittance. This percentage indicates how much visible light is still able to pass through the window tint and reach your eyes.

Hawaii has strict regulations regarding allowable VLT limits.

VLT percentage is measured using a specialized device called a tint meter or photometer. This handy tool can quickly analyze the darkness of any glass and provide a reading of how much visible light it blocks.

Tint meters are commonly used by auto shops and law enforcement to test whether window tints comply with state laws.

How VLT Percentage is Calculated

A tint meter works by shining a calibrated light source through the glass sample and measuring how much light passes to the other side. The meter then compares this value to the initial light level and calculates the percentage of visible light that was transmitted. For example:

  • Initial light level going into the glass: 1,000 lux
  • Light level transmitted through the glass: 400 lux
  • VLT percentage = (Transmitted light/Initial light) x 100 = (400/1,000) x 100 = 40%

The higher the VLT percentage, the lighter the tint. A piece of clear glass has a VLT of around 90%. As you add darker tints, the VLT percentage goes down. Blacked-out limo tint can measure below 5% VLT.

Hawaii’s VLT Laws

Hawaii sets legal limits on VLT percentage for different car windows:

Window Location Minimum VLT Percentage
Windshield 70%
Front Side Windows 35%
Back Side & Rear Windows 20%

So in order to be street legal, your front side windows cannot block more than 65% of incoming light. Meanwhile, your rear glass can darken up to 80% VLT and still meet Hawaii regulations.

Law enforcement uses tint meters to easily verify compliance. If they measure VLT percentages below these thresholds, you may receive a fix-it ticket and have to remove excess film.

Penalties for Violating Hawaii’s Window Tint Law

Driving with illegal window tint in Hawaii can lead to fines and other penalties. Here’s an overview of what you can expect if you violate Hawaii’s window tint law:

Tickets and Fines

Getting pulled over with overly dark window tint will result in a fix-it ticket. This means you’ll have to remove the excess tint or get a waiver within a certain timeframe to avoid facing fines. If you fail to fix the violation, you can expect the following penalties:

  • First offense: Up to $500 fine
  • Second offense: Up to $1,000 fine
  • Third offense: Up to $2,000 fine

Fines tend to increase with each subsequent offense. These fines are set in Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 291-21.5.

Tint Removal

In addition to fines, the police officer may order immediate removal of the excess tint. If you refuse, your car could be impounded. You may also have to appear in court.

To avoid these penalties, the Hawaii Department of Transportation recommends having illegal tint removed by a professional auto shop. Removing tint yourself could lead to bubbles, streaks or other damage.

“Fix-it” Time Period

When you get a fix-it ticket for window tint in Hawaii, you’ll have a certain number of days to fix the violation. According to Hawaii law, the timeframe is typically no more than 7 days from the date the citation was issued.

This means you’ll need to act fast to remove excess tint or obtain a medical exemption. If you fail to fix the violation within the allotted time period, you’ll start accumulating the fines mentioned above.

Removing Non-Compliant Window Tint in Hawaii

Having illegal window tint on your car in Hawaii can lead to fines and the requirement to remove it. Here’s what you need to know about removing non-compliant window tint in the Aloha State:

Hawaii’s Window Tint Law

Hawaii law states that the front driver and passenger windows must allow over 70% of light to pass through. This means very dark tinting is prohibited on front side windows.

For rear and back windows, the law allows any darkness of tint. So you can have limo-style blackout tint on rear and back windows if desired.

Consequences of Illegal Tint

If you’re caught driving with overly-dark front window tint in Hawaii, you may receive a “fix-it” ticket. This means you’ll have to remove the non-compliant tint within a certain timeframe to avoid fines.

Fines for illegal window tint in Hawaii can be $97-187 for a first offense. Fines increase for subsequent violations.

Removing Non-Compliant Film

To remove illegal window tint, you’ll need to take your car to a professional window tint shop. They have the tools and expertise to safely remove tint without damaging your windows.

Many tint shops offer window tint removal services in Hawaii. Prices may vary, but typically run $50-100 per window.

The process involves carefully peeling off the tint film. Any adhesive residue is then cleaned off. It’s precision work best left to the professionals.

Replacing with Lighter Tint

After removing dark illegal tint, some drivers opt to replace it with a lighter allowed film. While not required by law, lighter tint can still block some glare and heat.

Professional tint shops can recommend appropriate legal alternatives if you wish to retint after removal. Be sure to get a receipt showing your new film meets Hawaii’s compliance requirements.

Finding a Reputable Hawaii Window Tint Shop

Check Reviews and Reputation

When looking for a quality window tint shop in Hawaii, it’s important to check out their reviews and reputation first. Search for the shop on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook to see what customers have said. Look for shops with consistently positive reviews over at least a few years.

This indicates they provide great service and quality tints time and again. You want to find a shop that really knows window tinting and has plenty of experience specifically in Hawaii. Things like heat rejection and visibility are extra important with our sunny climate.

Pay attention to any negative reviews too. No shop is perfect, but you want issues to be rare exceptions rather than the norm. Common positives to look for are great communication, professional staff, quality materials, neat precise application, and honoring warranties when needed.

Watch for any frequent complaints around things like air bubbles, crooked application, or tint peeling/fading too quickly.

Verify Proper State Licensing

Unlike some places, Hawaii does require special licensing for motor vehicle window tinting. Be sure any shop you choose has active up-to-date licensing. You can verify a shop’s license online easily. Choosing an unlicensed shop could lead to fines, removal orders, and complications down the road.

Reputable shops will proudly display license info on their website or in-store. Don’t hesitate to ask to see a shop’s license if it’s not clearly posted. Proper licensing means they stayed up to date with Hawaii’s laws and process.

Ask About Warranties

A quality window tint shop in Hawaii will back their work with a strong warranty. Most offer at least a lifetime warranty on materials and 5+ years on workmanship. This protects you if the tint bubbles, peels, cracks, or has any other premature issues.

You’ll want the shop to reapply the tint free of charge if problems pop up that aren’t your fault during the coverage period. Hawaii’s hot tropical climate can take a toll on lesser quality films over time. So the warranty serves as crucial lasting peace of mind that you chose superior materials.

Warranty Term Shop Rating
Lifetime on materials/10 years on work Excellent
Lifetime on materials/5 years on work Good
5 years materials/3 years work Fair
1-2 years maximum Poor

As shown above, longer warranties equal higher confidence in the shop and tint quality. Reputable Hawaii tint shops stand strong behind their workmanship for ease of mind.


To wrap it up, Hawaii’s window tint law allows a visible light transmittance of 35% for the front side windows and 20% VLT for the back side and rear windows. Make sure to have your car windows professionally tested and installed by a licensed shop.

Driving with overly dark tint can result in fix-it tickets or fines. We hope this guide has helped explain Hawaii’s legal tint limits and given you tips for staying compliant.

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