Gardaí urge restrictions on tinted windows

GARDAÍ have called on the Government to impose restrictions on the use of tinted windows on vehicles amid growing concern that they may assist both criminals and traffic offenders in avoiding detection.

An Garda Síochána recently recommended that limits on the darkness of such windows should be included as part of the National Car Test.

In a formal submission to independent consultants carrying out a mid-term review of the operation of the NCT, gardaí said the opaqueness of car windows should be incorporated into the test to discourage motorists from darkening the windows of their vehicles.

“Darkened windows make it difficult for victims and witnesses of a crime to give a description of alleged perpetrators in vehicles,” said a garda spokesperson. CCTV cameras also have difficulty in identifying people in cars with tinted windows.

Gardaí have argued that it is an area where a standard should be agreed and enforced by the NCT due to the growing number of vehicles in Ireland with tinted windows.

The cost of having cars equipped with tinted windows can range from DIY kits costing around €100 to a full professional service for as much as €1,000.

Labour Transport spokesperson Roisín Shortall also recently warned that such windows make it difficult for gardaí to enforce the ban on using mobile phones when driving.

The formal NCT review, which was published last month, subsequently recommended that a technical advisory forum including Garda representatives should be established to advise Transport Minister Martin Cullen on future standards and content of the test.

It also suggested that one of the first issues to be considered by the advisory group is the question of regulations for tinted windows.

Mr Cullen said yesterday that the membership of the new advisory group, which will also include representatives of the motor industry, will be announced next month.

In July, the Minister declared his intention to develop national technical standards for tinted windows.

Under existing legislation, driving a car fitted with tinted windows is not an offence unless they have the effect of obstructing the driver’s view of the road.

Last month, a motorist who was summoned for driving with tinted windows had his case struck out at Nenagh District Court.

Judge Tim Lucey dismissed the charge on the basis that rich and famous people were not being prosecuted for driving cars with similar windows.

The prosecuting garda unsuccessfully argued that the tinted windows on the sides of the vehicle driven by the 21-year-old driver, Darren Killackey of Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, hindered his proper view of the roadway.

Regulations on the levels of Visible Light Transmission (VLT) for car windows exist in several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and part of the US due to the widespread popularity of tinted windows in those countries.

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