If the windshield on your car was damaged by a rock, tree branch, or even a psycho ex, can you legally drive your car in New York? I can't be the only person constantly seeing Safelite commercials (Safelite repair, Safelite replace...I have the jingle memorized and not by choice). If you haven't had the money or time to get the crack or knick repaired or your windshield replaced, is it against the law to operate your vehicle?

Photo by Katelyn Greer on Unsplash
Photo by Katelyn Greer on Unsplash

Are Tinted Car Windows Illegal In New York State?

Before we get to the answer about cracked windshields, let's take a look at another New York State law that applies to your vehicle's windows.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to determining if your vehicle can have tinted windows in New York State. The first consideration is whether your car, insurance, and driver's license are from out of state. If all three are from another state, you might be able to slide. You will likely get a stern warning that you need to register your vehicle with New York within 30 days of moving to the state.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

If you do have a vehicle registered in New York, you can have tinted windows, but there are rules and levels to it.

As of January 1, 2017, New York State began requiring examination of tinted windows during your car's motor vehicle inspection. The law says that only certain windows can legally be tinted,

Section 375 (12-a) of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law does not allow a windshield or front side windows that are dark. The windshield and front side windows cannot block more than 30% of the light. Seventy percent or more of the light from the outside must pass through the window. This law also applies to the rear window unless the vehicle has outside rear-view mirrors on both sides. The mirrors must give the driver a full and clear view behind the vehicle.

So essentially, you can get some windows tinted but don't expect the tint to be dark. The rear side windows also cannot block more than 30% of the light if your vehicle is considered a “Passenger Car” on the Federal ID label on the driver's side door panel.

Is It Illegal To Drive With A Cracked Windshield In New York State?

The answer is both yes and no. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles states,

No crack of 11 inches long or longer is allowed if any part of the crack is within the area cleared by the windshield wiper.

Your vehicle will likely not pass inspection if the crack fits the description above. In addition, your vehicle's windshield must be made of safety glass,

It shall be unlawful to operate on any public highway or street in this state any motor vehicle registered in New York state unless such vehicle be equipped with safety glass wherever glass is used in doors, windows and windshields.

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Does New York State Require Free Replacements Of Your Windshield?

According to CarInsurance.com, some states - Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina - waive the car insurance deductible to have your windshield repaired or replaced if you carry comprehensive insurance coverage. New York State allows a separate glass coverage with no deductible on your insurance claim.

The moral of the story is that you may be able to get away with legally operating your vehicle with a cracked windshield. But the real question is, are you safe doing it?

** This article is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel

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