Ottawa officer calls for changes to Ontario's car window tinting law

An Ottawa police officer is pushing for Ontario's laws around the severity of car window tinting to be updated for the first time in 26 years.

Sgt. Mark Gatien says Ontario's rules should mirror those in Quebec

A police officer in Gatineau, Que., uses a light meter to test the tint of a car window. A report coming before the Ottawa Police Services board on Monday will urge Ontario to match its rules with those that exist in Quebec. (CBC)

An Ottawa police officer is pushing for Ontario's laws around the severity of car window tinting to be updated for the first time in 26 years.

Sgt. Mark Gatien is urging the province to adopt similar laws to those that exist in Quebec, and his pitch will be coming before the Ottawa Police Services Board for debate on Monday night.

"What we'd like to do is mimic the Quebec law, in that they're using photometric meters," Gatien told CBC Ottawa.

Ontario laws 'vague and problematic'

Also known as light or tint meters, photometric meters are used to determine how much light passes through a car window.

In Quebec, drivers can be ticketed anywhere from $154 to $525, depending upon the size of their vehicle, if their front side windows fail to let in at least 70 per cent light.

The police board report calls upon its chair, Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, to write to Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca and request an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act that would mirror Quebec's laws.

The requested amendment would allow Ontario police officers to also use the meters and fine non-emergency-vehicle drivers if their windows fail to meet the 70 per cent light threshhold.

It would be a beneficial update to Ontario's current legislation, which is "vague and problematic," the report says.

"Officers are required to describe whether the tinting of windows allows them to adequately view the occupant of the front seat," says the report.

"The present wording is very open for interpretation and is based on the subjectivity of an officers' observations. This can lead to difficulties in getting convictions in court."

Seeking chiefs of police support

The last update to the province's laws around car window tinting was in 1990.

Gatien tried unsuccessfully to have the update to tinted window legislation included among changes to the Highway Traffic Act approved in 2015.

Along with bringing the proposal before the police services board, Gatien has also written to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to garner their support.

"You don't have a very good chance of moving something forward if you're just Joe Public on the road," Gatien said. "Even though I'm a police officer."

With files from Cameron Kennedy