SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- First you pay extra to have your new car equipped with tinted windows. Then you pay a lot extra to have the tint removed after it causes the car to fail Utah's safety inspection.
The state has been pressuring inspection stations to fail cars have tinted windows that do not comply with the state's regulations.
Among those being surprised by the inspection failures are car owners whose vehicles had passed the inspections in the past.
"They're pretty mad about it," said Todd Bradley, a mechanic and safety inspector for Lancer Automotive in South Salt Lake. "We're rejecting quite a few people."
"We get complaints every day from people who bought a used car with illegal window tint, didn't know it, and then didn't pass their safety inspection," said Liz Hawkins of the state's safety inspection division.
The state recently suspended the license of St. George Motor car service center for 180 days for not rejecting a car with illegal tinting, and two other Utah businesses have been cited for applying window tinting darker than the legal limit.
"We are trying to tighten up as much as we can," said Sgt. Howard Madsen, Utah Highway Patrol safety-inspection supervisor. "We're trying to be proactive on it instead of waiting for something ... to happen."
The main problem is visibility, he said. "You can't see anything out of some of these windows. You can't see a pedestrian crossing the road."
Officer safety is the other reason for the crackdown on window tinting, which has become more popular in recent years.
"If an officer can't see what's happening as he's coming up to the window, then that's a dangerous situation," Madsen said.
State law that says a car can have no less than 43 percent light coming through the windows to the immediate left and right of the driver.
The back windows can be darkened, but a brake light situated in the rear window cannot be covered.
Window tint may be applied to the top 4 inches of the windshield.
Front driver- and passenger-side windows are the problem, Madsen said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)