Drivers with illegal tint resort to drastic measures after crackdown

Vehicle tint removal at Al's Tinting

Ever since the state’s new electronic safety check system went into effect last November, it’s been harder for some drivers to get their safety check. From modified cars to window decals, safety check stations are being stricter with their inspections.

Now, cars with illegal tint that have passed inspections in the past aren’t getting by anymore. It’s forcing some drivers to take drastic action just to keep others from looking in.

Believe it or not, there are drivers out there who go as far as removing the illegal tint to pass inspection. They then have the illegal darker tint put back on, which will have to be removed again for next year’s safety inspection.

Mike Verner of French Wrench Shell Station says drivers still ask him to let the tint slide.

“They say, ‘Oh, it’s only a little bit here, a little bit there,’ but I say no, the tint meter is telling me a certain thing. If it doesn’t pass, it’s not going to pass.”

Drivers are left with no choice but to take their illegal tint off before their safety inspection.

Al Tod, owner of Al’s Tinting, says he’s been bombarded with drivers asking for darker tint. “Every day, pretty much, we get a phone call every hour at least,” he said.

Tod says he has to advise them against it and turn them down.

KHON2 found one driver who still wanted to get it done. She didn’t want to be identified.

“It blocks the sun out too and it gets hot, so you want to block out the sun,” she said. While legal tint also helps alleviate the problem, she says “it just looks nicer in the car with blacked-out tint.”

It costs $50 to $100 just to remove the tint. Add in the new tint and the whole thing can cost up to $400. Plus, it has to be done every year to pass safety inspection.

“It’s humbug if you have to keep removing it to get a safety check, but I mean, if you value your privacy, I don’t see why it’s a problem,” the anonymous car owner said.

“It doesn’t make sense to me, no not at all, especially (given) the fact of the potential fines you can incur from HPD,” Tod said.

Drivers are still taking a risk out with illegal tint. Honolulu police officers can pull them over and use meters to determine if the tint is too dark.

The fine for the owner of the vehicle is $287 per window. The penalty for the company that installs illegal tint is $537.

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