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 $5,000 Fine for Illegal Motor Vehicle Tints

Vehicle with tinted glass

$5,000 Fine for Illegal Motor Vehicle Tints

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By Neela Ramsundar

ANOTHER set of motor vehicle regulations with eyebrow raising fines has been made into law, with a 3-month moratorium on implementation commencing December 7, 2020.

At the end of that moratorium, owners, drivers and operators of motor vehicles can be fined $5,000 per offence for breach of new tint regulations with specific percentages for the degree of tint.

The new regulations called The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Windscreen and Window Tint) Regulations, 2020 can be found online and is contained in Legal Notice No. 281 of 2020 published on July 31, 2020.

The new regulations came into effect on August 3, 2020. However, a three-month moratorium was in effect to give citizens sufficient time to ensure their vehicle complies with the new regulations, the ministry stated.

Linx 1

Everyone should read the new regulations, especially if they drive a vehicle with tint as they may be directly impacted. However, I will outline a couple major changes, using simplified language:

  1. (See Regulation 11) Constables in uniform can use a tint measurement device approved by the Licensing Authority to measure the degree of tint in a vehicle’s windows and windscreen. In calculating whether there is a breach, a margin of error of + or – 3 % is allowed.
  2. (See Regulation 3) Fines of $5,000 can be issued on any road for failure to:
  • have a front windscreen with a minimum of 70% visible light transmittance. (An exception is made permitting a strip of tint at the top of the front windscreen, with limits e.g. it must have a width of no more than six inches);
  • have the front windows with a minimum of 35% visible light transmittance;
  • have the rear windows and rear windscreens with a minimum of 20% visible light transmittance.

Where do we go and what device has to be used to check that we are in compliance? The ministry’s media release dated December 18, 2020 announcing the three-month moratorium was silent on these questions.

Now, regulation 11 (3) states that the approved tint device will be published and made known to us in the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette.
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At the time of writing this article, I have not found such a publication online. I am thus unable to share this information with readers.

If there is no approved tint measurement device to date, such a state of affairs is alarming. These devices should have been rolled out to all government approved motor vehicle testing stations long before August 3, 2020 to permit citizens enough time during this pandemic to visit the stations to check their compliance with the new tint laws. While there may be many tint measurement devices in existence, there will be elements of variability, so only an approved tint measurement device ought to be used for compliance testing.

It would seem incredibly remiss of the Ministry of Works and Transport not to immediately issue a supplementary media release advising the public where they can go to check their tints compliance with the law and what exactly is the approved device.

If we are to go to the government’s approved vehicle testing stations, the ministry should also advise us of a fixed cost for checking the tint, just as there is a fixed cost for a motor vehicle inspection every two years.
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For one vehicle, failure to comply with these new laws may result in series of fines most citizens cannot afford. The rationale such jaw dropping fines is questionable, but it is law. It is not fair to have such a heavy penalty looming over the heads of citizens, without the ability to check for compliance.

Copyright©2020 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred a consequence of using content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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