Bill would let Iowans seek medical exemption for tinted vehicle windows
DES MOINES — A Senate subcommittee has advanced a bill that would let Iowans with a doctor’s recommendation have a darker tint applied to the windows of their vehicles. Senator Waylon Brown of Osage said the bill as written isn’t ready, but he’d like to figure out a solution.
“I have three people in my district who have what’s called Dracula Disease and sunlight actually causes the blood to come up to the surface of their skin,” Brown said, “so they can only travel at night.”
Dracula Disease is a real genetic disorder that’s likely the origin of the vampire myth. Iowans who suffered eye discomfort in bright sunlight, a condition called photophobia, used to be able to get a medical exemption and the DOT’s permission to have a darker tint applied to their vehicles’ windows, but legislators repealed that law in 2012. Brown said he has constituents who got those window tint exemptions before it began illegal.
“Those vehicles are about at the end of their life,” Brown said, “and they’re not going to be able to get the window tint they need to be able to drive during the daylight.”
Law enforcement officials say vehicles that have a darker tint on the windshield or the front side windows are a safety risk. Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Wade Major said tinted windows prevent eye-to-eye contact between motorists, biccylists and pedestrians at intersections.
“Whether you have the right of way or not, essentially you’re going to look over to left or right and you make that eye contact,” Major said. “What we’re seeing nowadays with these tinted windows, those that are basically illegal in the state is not only the sides are being tinted, but also the fronts are being tinted, so that is a concern of ours because you do not have that eye to eye contact or clear vision as you go through there.”
Major also told lawmakers that officers approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop are trained to look for the driver’s hands. “Hands are what’s going to hurt us, usually. When we approach a vehicle, we want to be able to see those hands for officer safety issues,” he said. “With a window tint, it distorts the vision and you can’t really see in that well.”
Law enforcement officials say encountering more tinted windows will make it harder to enforce Iowa’s seat belt law or see when a driver is illegally using a smart phone.