Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

02/24/2009 01:00 PM Senate TRANSPORTATION

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 111 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
              SB  51-MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                           
1:22:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KOOKESH announced  the  consideration of  SB  51. He  added                                                              
that committee  members have  particularly tight schedules  today.                                                              
Some members  will have to  come and go  during the hearing  so he                                                              
wants  an  understanding   that  the  bill  will   not  move  from                                                              
committee today.                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH,  Alaska  State  Legislature, sponsor  of  SB  51,                                                              
introduced himself  and his staff member Andy Moderow  and said he                                                              
too  is over-booked.  However,  Mr. Moderow  will  stay to  answer                                                              
questions  for the  bill sponsor.  Also, Lieutenant  Dial is  here                                                              
and  is  very  knowledgeable  on   the  subject  and  can  provide                                                              
SENATOR  FRENCH  explained  that  the  community  council  in  his                                                              
district  brought  this  to  him  because  community  members  had                                                              
expressed  concern about  the prevalence  of vehicles with  darkly                                                              
tinted  windows  traversing  their   neighborhoods.  A  pedestrian                                                              
first brought  this to his attention  and told him that  it causes                                                              
her unease  when she  can't see  who's inside  these cars  because                                                              
she can't  tell if  the drivers  see her  when she's walking.  She                                                              
asked him  to do something. She  had done some research  and found                                                              
that although  it's illegal to have  these tinted windows  on your                                                              
car, it  is not  illegal for  businesses to  install the  tinting.                                                              
Going to the source would probably cut down on this.                                                                            
SB 51  essentially says that window  tint installers will  be held                                                              
to the  same standard as  drivers. If it's  illegal to  drive with                                                              
darkly  tinted windows,  it's  illegal  to install  dark  tinting.                                                              
Installing the  product would make  the installer eligible  for an                                                              
infraction.  From my  perspective this  is a  community effort  to                                                              
make  the streets  safer and  a common  sense effort  to make  the                                                              
laws uniform for installers and drivers, he stated.                                                                             
1:26:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  asked what  the  infraction  is for  driving  with                                                              
tinted windows.                                                                                                                 
ANDY MODEROW,  Staff for Senator  French, replied  AS 28.90.010(c)                                                              
authorizes  fines of up  to $300  to be put  in by regulation.  He                                                              
noted that the  violation for driving with window  tinting that is                                                              
darker  than allowed  is in  the Alaska  Administrative Code.  The                                                              
authorization is in the statute.                                                                                                
SENATOR  MEYER recapped  that the  intent is  make the  infraction                                                              
the same for the  installer and the driver, and the  fine is up to                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH said that's correct.                                                                                             
1:28:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DAVIS   pointed  out  that  some  people   are  medically                                                              
authorized to  drive with  tinted windows. She  asked if  the bill                                                              
would address that in any way.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  FRENCH  replied the  application  process  for a  medical                                                              
exemption would  not change. If  a person had a  medical exemption                                                              
to  drive  with   tinted  windows  the  installer   would  not  be                                                              
penalized because it  would be legal. As Mr.  Moderow pointed out,                                                              
much of  this is done  by regulation so  that's where  the details                                                              
are  figured  out;   the  bill  simply  establishes   a  statutory                                                              
SENATOR  DAVIS asked  if he thinks  it is  unnecessary to  include                                                              
language about medical exemptions in the body of the bill.                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH  replied he  is at the will  of the  committee, but                                                              
he thinks it's clear.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  MENARD stated  her belief  that  it would  be helpful  to                                                              
include the language in the bill.                                                                                               
CHAIR  KOOKESH suggested  the sponsor  have  a new  CS drafted  to                                                              
include language about medical exemptions.                                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH said he would take that as direction.                                                                            
SENATOR  PASKVAN  told  the  committee   that  earlier  today  Mr.                                                              
Boswood talked  to him  and gave  him a sample  of the  35 percent                                                              
tinting  that  he  installs  as  part of  his  business.  He  also                                                              
provided  samples of  darker tinting  that he  obviously does  not                                                              
install.  Along  with  the  samples   he  provided  pictures  that                                                              
indicate that  with emergency lights  it's possible to  see inside                                                              
a  car  that  has 35  percent  tinting  on  the  windows.  Senator                                                              
Paskvan said  he's just trying to  figure this out and  noted that                                                              
the  back windows  on  his Yukon  XL have  manufacturer  installed                                                              
tint  that  is darker  than  one  of  the samples.  He  asked  for                                                              
1:30:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH explained  that  SUVs fall  under different  rules                                                              
that are set  out in federal law  and preempt state law.  SB 51 is                                                              
aimed at  passenger cars. As  far as installers  who feel  that 35                                                              
percent tint  is okay but  dark tint is  not, he pointed  out that                                                              
the  law doesn't  say  that. Basically,  current  Alaska law  says                                                              
that factory tint  is about as dark as is legal  to install. It is                                                              
illegal to  drive with 35  percent tint;  the driver can  be cited                                                              
and fined. Don't  be misled that it's okay, he  said. Trooper Dial                                                              
has a perspective that is different from installers..                                                                           
SENATOR MENARD asked if he has looked at the tinting samples.                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH replied  he has  met  with the  installers in  the                                                              
past,  but not this  year.  However, he  is up to  speed on  their                                                              
MR.  MODEROW  added  that  he met  with  Mr.  Boswood  today  when                                                              
Senator French was  in another meeting and they do  have a copy of                                                              
the samples.                                                                                                                    
1:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB  BOSWOOD,  President, Auto  Trim  Design,  said he's  been  in                                                              
business  in  Fairbanks for  25  years  and he's  been  installing                                                              
window  film since  1989.  He explained  that  his argument  isn't                                                              
with the  bill because he  believes that  it should be  illegal to                                                              
install  dark films.  He disagrees  with the  current law  because                                                              
the tint that is  allowed is too light. "There is  a medium ground                                                              
that  is  a  sellable commodity  that  provides  both  a  cosmetic                                                              
enhancement  for  the vehicle  as  well  as  it blocks  the  sun's                                                              
glare, and it's safe."                                                                                                          
MR. BOSWOOD  explained that the  35 percent film is  modeled after                                                              
the Washington  state regulation. It's  a medium film and  all the                                                              
negative trooper  documentation talks about dark  window film. The                                                              
sponsor  statement  also  talks  about  dark  window  film.  We're                                                              
asking  that  the original  regulation  be  amended to  allow  the                                                              
window tint  industry to  survive, he said.  In Fairbanks  we will                                                              
tint no  darker than  35 percent  film; it's proven  to be  a safe                                                              
commodity in  other states.  "There is no  evidence of  any police                                                              
officer ever  suffering any  injury or  harm with  a car  that was                                                              
tinted with  medium window film,"  he said. The argument  that the                                                              
film  makes  it  impossible  to break  the  windows  is  misplaced                                                              
because some  glass is  laminated for  safety reasons.  "There may                                                              
be some  arguments there  as to  whether they'll  ever be  able to                                                              
break those windows out," he said.                                                                                              
1:35:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOSWOOD  said  "I'm just  here to  point out  that there  is a                                                              
middle of  the road solution to  this problem that would  allow my                                                              
business  to survive."  It's  misleading to  say  that 35  percent                                                              
film is  unsafe. In my area,  law enforcement officers  agree that                                                              
35 percent  window film  applied on vehicles  isn't a  problem, he                                                              
SENATOR MENARD asked  if he would be satisfied if  the word "dark"                                                              
were removed and "medium" inserted.                                                                                             
1:37:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOSWOOD  replied he would like  the regulations to  be changed                                                              
to allow 35 percent film on all vehicle windows.                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS  commented that his  current practice  of installing                                                              
35 percent tint is at cross purpose to existing statute.                                                                        
MR. BOSWOOD  acknowledged that  the car  owners are in  violation.                                                              
He added  that he  turns away  about 75  percent of the  customers                                                              
who come  to his shop  seeking window tint  because he  won't tint                                                              
any  darker than  35  percent. Also,  he  makes  customers sign  a                                                              
waiver  attesting  that  they understand  Alaska  regulations  and                                                              
that they  won't be in compliance.  Many potential  customers want                                                              
a darker  tint and  when he won't  do it they  go down  the street                                                              
and get a  "back-yard" job. "SB  51 is not going to  eliminate the                                                              
installation of dark film on any windows," he asserted.                                                                         
SENATOR DAVIS said  the intent of SB 51 is to  hold the installers                                                              
MR. BOSWOOD  said he's  aware of  that, and if  it passes  it will                                                              
significantly impact  the financial structure of  his business. He                                                              
reiterated that there is a common-sense middle ground.                                                                          
1:40:16 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY  DIAL,  Lieutenant,  Department of  Public  Service  (DPS),                                                              
said  the department  supports  SB  51. Noting  that  he would  be                                                              
speaking  from a  PowerPoint he  had prepared,  he explained  that                                                              
what is referred  to as tint is  the opposite of what  the statute                                                              
calls  visible light  transmittance.  For  example,  a 35  percent                                                              
tint  actually blocks  65 percent  of the  light passing  through.                                                              
Current Alaska  law allows  a five  inch strip  or eyebrow  at the                                                              
top of a  windshield to be tinted  to any level. The  front driver                                                              
and passenger windows  can be tinted to block up  to 30 percent of                                                              
the  light   and  that  is  referred   to  as  70   percent  light                                                              
transmittance.  "That's  how  much  light's  passing  through  the                                                              
glass." Rear windows  must allow at least 40 percent  of the light                                                              
to  pass through.  Some  specialty-use  vehicles  are exempt,  but                                                              
they must comply with federal law.                                                                                              
LIEUTENANT  DIAL cautioned  that the  data he  collected on  other                                                              
jurisdictions may  have changed in  the meantime, so it  should be                                                              
considered  approximate.  When  he  prepared  the  PowerPoint,  at                                                              
least 13  other states  and 90 percent  of Canadian  provinces had                                                              
similar or more  restrictive laws than Alaska. As  a general rule,                                                              
jurisdictions in  hotter climates allow  more tint. He  feels it's                                                              
important  to be  aware that  if  Alaska changes  its standard  to                                                              
allow darker tinting,  those vehicles will essentially  be illegal                                                              
in most of Canada and many Lower-48 states.                                                                                     
1:43:34 PM                                                                                                                    
LIEUTENANT  DIAL  said  the next  slide  makes  several  important                                                              
points  about tinted  windows.  It  compares tinted  windows  with                                                              
sunglasses;  general-purpose  sunglasses  must  let  at  least  40                                                              
percent of  visible light  pass through.  Most people  would agree                                                              
that it's  unsafe to wear sunglasses  at night, but  don't realize                                                              
that adding 35  percent tint on top of the  factory-installed tint                                                              
blocks  more  than 65  percent  of  the  light.  When he  did  his                                                              
research  he found  no  cars coming  from  the  factory with  zero                                                              
tint. "It's just not cosmetically appealing."                                                                                   
LIEUTENANT  DIAL  noted that  the  information he  included  about                                                              
filter colors comes  from the tint industry website.  For example,                                                              
light  gray tint transmits  35 percent  to 43  percent of  visible                                                              
light, and  has 65 percent to  57 percent tint. Again,  he pointed                                                              
out that  tint and visible  light transmittance are  opposite. The                                                              
next four  slides detail  some of  the problems  that police  have                                                              
had that  relate to  tinted windows. The  first is that  witnesses                                                              
have  difficulty  identifying  who  is  in  a  vehicle.  The  next                                                              
problem is  that an  officer approaching  a car  can't see  who is                                                              
inside or  what they're doing. This  can be dangerous or  fatal to                                                              
officers   and   has  been   a   long-standing  concern   to   law                                                              
enforcement.  The  stress  level  to officers  is  very  high.  He                                                              
acknowledged that  officers do "light  up" vehicles they  stop and                                                              
they do carry  flashlights, but often that doesn't  illuminate the                                                              
interior  of  the vehicle  adequately.  In  the three  years  he's                                                              
worked  on this  project, he  has not  met an  officer who  thinks                                                              
that tint limits should be changed.                                                                                             
1:46:38 PM                                                                                                                    
LIEUTENANT DIAL  said his research indicates that  communities are                                                              
advocating for  more restrictive requirements because  of problems                                                              
that relate to  tinted windows. Those include:  Chicago police who                                                              
mistakenly shot  a passenger because  they thought they saw  a gun                                                              
when it was  a cell phone;  witnesses who could not  make positive                                                              
identification  through  tinted windows;  and  motor vehicles  and                                                              
pedestrians collisions  that are blamed on poor  visibility due to                                                              
tinted windows.  He warned  that this is  a particular  concern in                                                              
Alaska where many roads have no streetlights.                                                                                   
LIEUTENANT  DIAL said the  next several  slides show various  tint                                                              
examples. He cautioned  that a tint film against a  piece of paper                                                              
is  completely different  than trying  to  see inside  a car  with                                                              
tinted windows  in a low-light  situation. "Unless  there's inside                                                              
illumination  coming  out,  what  you're really  doing  is  you're                                                              
filtering the light  a couple different times before  you actually                                                              
see it." Light  is filtered as it  enters a vehicle and  then it's                                                              
filtered  as it  exits the  vehicle.  He displayed  pictures of  a                                                              
Nissan Maxima.  The first was taken  on a sunny day, the  tint was                                                              
legal, and  the visual light  transmittance (VLT) was  70 percent.                                                              
He noted that even  then the interior was somewhat  dark. The next                                                              
showed medium tint  with 30 percent VLT, which is  illegal in this                                                              
state. The  last showed heavy  tint with  5 percent VLT,  which is                                                              
generally  reserved for limousines.  The  next three picture  were                                                              
taken  in Ketchikan  on  the same  day. The  Ford  Explorer has  a                                                              
lighter tint  than is allowed, but  if any after-market  tint were                                                              
applied it would  be outside legal limits. The picture  of a Dodge                                                              
Durango shows what  the factory tint looks like. The  picture of a                                                              
Toyota  Avalon  shows legal  70  percent  VLT  on the  front  side                                                              
windows.  The rear  door window  tinting with  35 percent  VLT and                                                              
rear window with 20 percent VLT are both illegal.                                                                               
1:50:17 PM                                                                                                                    
LIEUTENANT DIAL  detailed some reasons that current  law regarding                                                              
tint standards  should not change.  Alaska citizens would  be more                                                              
likely to  be ticketed if  they drove to  Canada or  other states.                                                              
Approximately  3,000 citations  are written  each year for  tinted                                                              
windows: 1,200 are  written by APD, 1,000 by troopers,  and 800 by                                                              
other agencies  throughout the state.  When he's  stopped vehicles                                                              
he's never  heard a driver  say they were  told it was  illegal to                                                              
get after-market  tint but they  decided to do it  anyway. They're                                                              
understandably  upset when  they  get a  correctable citation  and                                                              
have to  remove it. Removal  is not easy  and the result  is often                                                              
unsightly.  Other  reasons  not  to  change  current  law  include                                                              
pedestrian and officer  safety. He asked the committee  to support                                                              
the  bill; if  for  no  other reason  it  will save  drivers  from                                                              
getting  tickets and  officers  from taking  time  to write  those                                                              
tickets.  "To me it  just seems  somewhat wrong  to be  installing                                                              
this knowing  that  the car is  illegal." His  experience  is that                                                              
most  people  tint their  windows  for  vanity reasons,  but  that                                                              
doesn't outweigh all the other concerns, he said.                                                                               
1:52:39 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE VINCENT, General  Manager, Auto Trim Design, said  he is not                                                              
unsympathetic to  the dangers that  law enforcement  officers face                                                              
on  a  daily  basis. However,  he  questions  why  officers  don't                                                              
simply ask  people to  roll down their  windows if they're  darkly                                                              
tinted.  Referencing  the previous  testimony,  he  said the  Ford                                                              
Explorer falls  under different rules  so it shouldn't be  used as                                                              
an example. He  then pointed out that tinting  windows lowers heat                                                              
inside  the vehicle  and may  stop  glass from  shattering in  the                                                              
event  of an  accident.  Finally  he said  he  doesn't think  that                                                              
Alaska should  model its  laws after those  of a foreign  country.                                                              
Rather,  it should  look  at what  Washington,  Oregon, Idaho  and                                                              
Montana are doing.                                                                                                              
CHAIR KOOKESH asked if he supports SB 51.                                                                                       
MR. VINCENT replied he does not support it as written.                                                                          
CHAIR  KOOKESH  announced   he  would  hold  SB   51  awaiting  an                                                              
amendment   that  Senator   Davis  requested   to  allow   medical                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
g2009 SB 111 fact sheet.doc STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 111
DraftCSforSB59.pdf STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 59
Senate Bill 59_Bill Packet.pdf STRA 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
operation of low speed vehicles
relating to the operation of low-speed vehicles (Sen Stedman)
g2009 SB 111 sponsor statement & sectional.doc STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 111
g2009 SB 111 support AACA.pdf STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 111
g2009 SB 111 version A.pdf STRA 2/24/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 111