Equipment Violations: Tinted Windows

N.J.S.A. 39:3-74 provides that New Jersey registered motor vehicles may not be driven with non-transparent materials affixed to the windows or lights. This concerns all the vehicles with tinted windows on the front driver’s side or passenger’s side. Based on this statute, New Jersey police conducted motor vehicle stops based on the presence of tinted windows on the vehicles. In State v. Cohen, 347 N.J. Super 375 (App. Div. 2002), the Appellate Division held that the statute in question does prohibit the use of tinted windows that fail to meet certain standards set forth in the New Jersey Administrative Code. The Appellate Division also concluded that the motor vehicle stop in Cohen could be justified under the community caretaking exception. The darkened windows of the vehicle were subject to inspection by the officer in order to determine if the equipment constituted a hazardous condition. Also, the traffic stop in Cohen was also justified under the common law right of inquiry, in that the officer had a reasonably-founded suspicion that the vehicle’s equipment constituted a violation of the motor vehicle statute.

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