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    Tinted front windows are popular — and often illegal
    • January 19, 2024

    Q. Hello Mr. Honk Man: I just drove back from Santa Barbara and did an unofficial study on tinted windows. I thought it was illegal to have your front side windows tinted dark, so the driver cannot be seen. I would think the California Highway Patrol would hate that, given the times we’re in. My study found that 39 out of the 100 drivers that passed me (I stopped at 100 due to boredom) had their windows tinted so dark that I couldn’t see if anyone was driving. Why aren’t they ticketed?

    –  Bob Bernal, San Clemente

    A. Officer’s discretion.

    Cops choose when they pull someone over. Maybe the officer is after those doing something more dangerous, such as speeding or driving drunk. Or maybe the number of illegally tinted windows out there overwhelms some of them – those violations are more plentiful than even the number of Honk fans.

    Under the law, in California, the windshield and front side windows can’t have much tinting at all, and most vehicles likely got the allowance at the factory.

    Sergio Rivera, a CHP officer and spokesman based out of Santa Ana, said he has a limit.

    “If I can’t see male or female, if I’m not doing something else, I could make that stop,” he said.

    Officers give warnings, fix-it tickets or, on occasion, full-blown citations.

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    Q. I’m a disabled veteran with “DV” plates and have a decal transponder. Apparently the Riverside County toll agency didn’t get the memo about the DV exemption. I was charged for driving on the northbound 15 Express Lanes in November – a $2 charge for the short trip. I called the agency I got my transponder from and it said Riverside County doesn’t participate in the program. So what’s up, my friend?

    – Mike Mann, Anaheim Hills

    A. Mike, as you likely know, tollways in the state are linked by one aspect – they all use the same styles of transponders. But different governments oversee them, and Al Einstein would struggle grasping all of the different policies they operate under while tooling around.

    Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, a state law kicked in that gave owners of certain license plates for veterans – such as those for Purple Heart recipients, former American prisoners of war, or disabled veterans – free passage on many, but not all, tollways in the Golden State.

    Mike, you were on a tollway that doesn’t honor your plates, at least for now.

    “The 91 Express Lanes and 15 Riverside Express Lanes have different discount policies for motorists who have special recognition plates including disabled veterans plates,” Ariel Alcon Tapia, a spokesman for the Riverside County Transportation Commission, told Honk.

    In short, the 15 Express Lanes tollway is not covered by the new law.

    “This means there is no discount program for disabled veterans or other special recognition plates,” Tapia said, in regard to the 15 Express Lanes. “However, Riverside (15) Express account holders with disabled veterans or special recognition license plates can register their account to receive toll-free travel on other eligible toll lanes throughout California such as the 91 Express Lanes.”

    The commission could decide at some point to honor the special veteran plates if it chooses to do so.

    The best way to determine if a tollway honors the plates is to call and ask its agency or search the website.

    To ask Honk questions, reach him at [email protected]. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

    ​ Orange County Register