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Amendments to tint law are needed for safety reasons, says Lolo

Will the tint on this recently recevied police car pass muster if new rules are passed into law? [SN file photo]
Legislation has remained unchanged for over 40 years

To “address public safety concerns”, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has submitted for Fono approval, legislation that seeks to update the territory’s “tint law” which has not been updated since 1972, when the law was first put in place regulating tint on vehicles.

Not clearly stated in the law is whether ASG vehicles are exempt.

Effective date of the many proposed amendments is Mar. 1, 2018, according to the language of the bill, which was introduced Wednesday in both the Senate and House, and assigned to committees for review.

The proposed amendments come at a time when there are many complaints from motorists of being issued citations by police because of the tint on their car windows, and as previously reported by Samoa News, some of those citations have been dismissed by the District Court.

The bill’s preamble points to current law, which states in part: “No person may drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, side wings, or side or rear windows which materially obstructs, obscures or impairs the driver’s clear view of the highway or any intersecting highway.”

However, it says that this law is outdated and needs to be amended to account for new products and the safety concerns they present.

According to the preamble, tint on windows of vehicles can be beneficial to help block harmful UV rays, prevent damage to the interior of cars, help keep vehicles cool, and aid individuals who may be overly sensitive to sunlight. But, these benefits must be balanced with their safety issues.

Tint, signs, banners and other nontransparent materials can obstruct the view of drivers, which can affect their ability to safely operate a vehicle, and they are a safety concern for police officers who are responsible for enforcing traffic laws which includes the stopping and investigation of vehicles and their occupants.

According to the administration, the proposed amendments to current law “are needed to increase the safety of the public, pedestrians, and police officers.”

Among the proposed amendments, is that a person may not operate a motor vehicle with:

•     a windshield that allows less than 70% light transmittance;

•     a front side window that allows less than 32% light transmittance

•     back side window  and rear window that allows less than 35% light transmittance;

•     any windshield or window that is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material or component that presents a metallic or mirrored appearance.

Other proposed amendments state that nontransparent materials may be used:

•     along the top edge of the windshield if the materials do not extend downward more than four inches from the top edge of the windshield or beyond the AS-1 line, whichever is lowest; and on the rear window.

Furthermore, a motor vehicle with tinting or nontransparent material on any window shall be equipped with rear-view mirrors mounted on the left and the right side of the motor vehicle to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the motor vehicle.

“A person may not have for sale, sell, offer for sale, install, cover or treat a windshield or window, in violation of the proposed amendments,” according to the proposal.