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Window Tint as a Basis for a Vehicle Stop

Vehicle stops for illegal window tint often leads to illegal searches and seizures of cash

Many officers stop vehicles that are "passing through" PA on interstates and the turnpike because of the suspicious appearance of the vehicle's window tint. Often times, these stops can lead to an encounter with police for seizures of cash, guns and drugs. The police know that if an individual with out of state tags (particularly NJ or NY) has tinted windows, there may be a possible "drug dealer" inside. It is the pre-textual nature of this stop that subjects this stop, search and seizure to a suppression motion and exclusion from evidence all the items found during the search.

The PA vehicle code provides that Windshield obstructions and wipers, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4524, such as window tint, may not materially obstruct the driver's view out of the front windshield. Further, the sides and rear window provides as follows:

"No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sun screening device or other material which does not permit a person to see or view the inside of the vehicle through the windshield, side wing or side window of the vehicle."

This does not apply to factory-installed window tint or tint that complies with all applicable Federal regulations and for which a currently valid certificate of exemption for medical reasons.

We have represented many individuals charged with improper window tinting. As noted, these cases often lead to searches and seizures based upon an odor of marijuana, plain view of drug paraphernalia or some other illegal item. For an experienced attorney, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.