ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Many drivers tint their windows to keep their cars cool in summer, but 9 Investigates discovered a big increase in citations, because some tint is too dark.
Channel 9's Vanessa Welch learned how to avoid a ticket and why a darker tint isn't always better.
Trooper Jason Duran said he sees illegal window tint on cars all day, every day.
“I can barely see in the car, and they are behind me,” Duran said.
A tint meter reveals how much light gets through your windows, and Durant uses it when he’s ticketing drivers.
Tasha Brown drove her sport utility vehicle around Orange County for 12 years before getting a ticket.
“I knew it was dark,” she said. “Didn’t know it was illegal.”
At least three times a week, installers at Orlando Window Tint Specialists replace window film for ticketed drivers.
“The biggest complaint I get from customers is they didn't know the law existed,” said specialist Matt Fisher.
By law, front windows must allow 28 percent of light to come in. Back seat and rear windows must allow at least 15 percent.
Florida has had a tint law for 21 years, but WFTV noticed a recent spike in tint violations cited by the Highway Patrol.
“It has to be just to kick up the revenue,” said Brown.
From 2007 to 2011, records show window-tint tickets jumped 64 percent in Volusia County, 61 percent in Orange County and 37 percent in Seminole County.
The Florida Highway Patrol said citations are about safety, not revenue, and troopers stepped up enforcement when they noticed an increase in crashes caused by drivers who couldn't see through dark windows.
New technology proves darker tint isn't necessarily better, said Welch.
In Orange County, a window tint citation costs $114. Installing illegal tint is a third-degree felony, but troopers said it's hard to enforce, because shops move around and rarely give receipts.