The laws regarding front window tinting in the province haven't changed in 25 years, but one local business owner says it's time for progress.
Alan Chornyj has been installing window tinting on vehicles as well as residential and commercial buildings for 25 years, the past three of which have been in Golden. And he is getting fed up with his customers receiving violation tickets for window film that he says is not only safe, but has health benefits such as UV protection.
"For medical reasons, like UV ray allergies, some drivers need film on the front doors," said Chornyj. “It also reduces glare, and keeps some of the heat out making more comfortable drivers. This product prevents injuries.”
The BC Motor Vehicle Act states that, "No person shall drive or operate on a highway a motor vehicle which has affixed to or placed on the windshield or a window any material that reduces the light transmitted through a windshield or window unless the material is affixed to or placed on (a) the windshield but not more than 75mm below the top of the windshield, (b) a side window that is behind the driver, or, (c) the rear window if the motor vehicle is equipped with outside rear view mirrors on the left and right side of the motor vehicle."
It is a law, however, that Chornyj says has a staggering level of non-compliance.
"People know that it's against regulation, but they are deciding to risk getting a ticket because they want this product on their vehicles," he said. "They think it's worth paying the fine."
Regulations also vary from province to province, making it difficult and confusing for travelling motorists whose vehicles must follow the regulations of the province they are in at the time. In other words, a driver from Ontario (where light front window tinting is legal), is vulnerable to a fine if he brings his vehicle to British Columbia even if it's temporary, like a weekend vacation.
"We believe the regulations should be unified," said Chornyj, who personally received a fine for the tint on his vehicle, which had Ontario plates.
The laws are in place to ensure that visibility remains optimal for the driver, as well as making sure that people outside the vehicle (especially law enforcement), can see in.
"Police want to see into vehicles, and I agree completely," said Chornyj. "Safety is a big concern, that's why we would only want light film to be permitted for front windows."
There are four grades of window film that Chornyj installs; (from lightest to darkest) 50, 35, 20, and 5 (which is what you see on limousines). He wants to see 50 and 35 permitted for front windows.
Fortunately clear film is permitted for front windows. Although it does not provide any light protection, it does hold the glass together should the vehicle be in an accident, preventing the glass from shattering all over the occupants.
Chornyj has yet to find the proper channel to deliver his complaints, but hopes that enough people in the industry making noise will somehow bring about change.
“The government needs to recognize that the amount of non-compliance of these regulations shows that the taxpayers do not believe in this law,” he said. “Bans don’t work...there needs to regulations but the ban is clearly not working.”
A “Compliance Circular” issued by the Government of British Columbia in 2004 stated that they have received “numerous letters” seeking permission to tint vehicle windshields and front windows for medical reasons. The purpose of the letter was to inform law enforcement and industry professionals that no authority exists to issue a permit or other permission to allow an exemption of Motor Vehicle Act’s tinting regulations. But Chornyj says that needs to change.