Motorists with smoke in the windows of Lorain driving vehicles could be beaten in court if they are stopped by police for driving with black glass two or more times in a 12-month period.
Lorain City Council voted 9-0 at its June 20 meeting to amend the ordinance “use of sunscreen, opaque and reflective materials on vehicles”.
The amendment increases the second offense from a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $150 to a fourth-degree misdemeanor that carries a possible $250 fine and 30 days in prison.
Mayor Jack Bradley said the increased fines are important because blackout windows can create safety issues for police officers approaching cars during night traffic stops.
In this case, Bradley said, the tinted windows made it nearly impossible to see what the driver was doing in the car when officers approached.
Lorain City Judge Mark J. Mihok recommended increased penalties during a meeting with Bradley after he saw a segment on a TV news broadcast that described police approaching a car with tinted windows and the occupant holding a gun.
“Judge Mihawk said we have to protect our police, so can you put some teeth in the tinted window ordinance so that if someone comes in a second or third time after they’ve already been warned…I Hopefully they’re in jail,” Bradley said.
Given recent changes to Ohio’s open-carry laws, changing the law has become a higher priority, he said.
“Everyone and their non-disabled brother can carry a gun at all times,” Bradley said.
“For the health, safety and general welfare of citizens and police, this ordinance is necessary for potential bad actors hiding behind non-compliant windshields or windows. According to the June 20 Council’s agenda on Information on the proposed amendment, the City of Lorraine wants to increase penalties for bad actors who repeat this offense within twelve (12) months.
Bradley, who also served as a defense attorney, said the amendment made sense.
“I think it’s a good measure, and I appreciate Judge Mihawk coming to talk to me about this,” Bradley said.
Police Chief Jim McCann also participated in the revised ordinance, Bradley said.
According to tinting-laws.com, in Ohio, non-reflective tints are allowed in the top 5 inches of car windshields; tints that allow at least 50% of the light on the driver and passenger side windows, and tints on the rear and rear Full tinting is allowed on the windows.
The percentage of light that is allowed into the car is called the visible light transmittance, or VLT.
The revised ordinance is likely to attract critics who are urging police departments across the country to reduce traffic stops.