What are the laws on Windshield Replacement?

Hail Damage to Car Windshield

The U.S. Department of Transportation set federal regulations which outline minimum requirements for windshield visibility and conditions. Each state are required to enforce these requirements. These federal regulations state that, aside from legal tinting, the center of the windshield should be “free of discoloration or damage” This center area is defined as the space above the steering wheel, extending to two inches from the top of the windshield, and one inch from each side. However, a single crack can legally extend into this space, as long as it does not intersect with any other cracks. What does this mean? If you have a spider-web crack in the middle of your windshield, you are going to have to replace it regardless of your home state.

​Set by D.O.T., state traffic laws extend beyond the minimum requirements. Every state windshield-visibility law states that windshield damage cannot impair a driver’s vision. In some states, including Arizona and Florida, the kind of damage which qualifies as visual impairment is not actually defined, but is left up to the law-enforcement officer to decide.

Some states have laws that regulate how auto insurance companies can conduct business when it comes to windshield replacement. Most of the laws regulate the use of aftermarket windshields, when your insurance is covering the replacement. Most states, including Oregon allow auto insurance companies to cut costs by using aftermarket or used replacement windshields. They are however, required to notify you in writing about their intent to use an aftermarket windshield. It must be the same quality and design of a brand new one. Other states, such as California, requires the insurance companies let you choose the body shop for windshield repair.

Arizona driver’s license manual states that “Vehicles must have a windshield” and that the windshield must not have any cracks. Arizona has a series of state laws codified as 28-957 which cover the requirement for windshields. 28-957.01 defines the requirement for a windshield, but exempts motorcycles, all terrain vehicles and golf carts manufactured or modified before June 17, 1998. Antique and classic vehicles that didn’t originally have windshields are exempted. The law states that a vehicle must have “an adequate windshield.” Because the law does not spell out the size a crack or chip must be to make a windshield inadequate under state law 28-957.01, the tickets for broken windshields vary in amount, depending on the county in which the ticket was issued. Whether a windshield is considered adequate or inadequate is left up to the discretion of ticketing officers state-wide.

​In Arizona you need Comprehensive coverage or Full Glass coverage, both optional coverages, on your vehicle in order for your windshield to be covered by your auto insurance. Comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a $250 to $1,000 deductible. All companies are required to offer full glass coverage which comes without a deductible. This “full glass” coverage (may also be known as full safety equipment coverage) provides full repair or replacement of all glass used in the windshield, windows, and doors, and all glass, plastic or other materials used in the lights of a motor vehicle without regard to any deductible. Full Glass may pay to repair or replace the windshield, windows, mirrors, as well as the glass, plastic or other material used in the lights of the vehicle, without having to pay the Comprehensive deductible. So if you have Comprehensive of Full Glass coverage as part of your car insurance policy you can make a claim for your windshield to be repaired or replaced so you do not risk being cited by law enforcement for what an officer may determine to be an equipment violation.

​Florida statute 316.2952 states that windshields of cars traveling on a street, road or public highway shall not have a sign, sunscreen material or other covering on them. The statute does allow for sunscreening material or a sunstrip to be located at the top of the windshield so long as it is transparent and does not interfere with a driver’s view. Certificates and other papers required by law are allowed to be placed on a windshield. Electronic toll devices may also be placed on a windshield. Florida statute 627.7288 states that any individual with comprehensive insurance coverage may have the damaged windshield of his covered motor vehicle replaced at no cost. There is no deductible applied in cases of damaged windshields.

According to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, if you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, you are covered for this loss if an object damages or breaks your windshield. Whatever amount you may have selected as your comprehensive coverage deductible, does not apply to a glass loss. You will be covered for the full amount of the loss without a deductible unless you opted for a $100 deductible for glass breakage when you started your comprehensive coverage.

​Colorado Revised Statue 42-4-201 under paragraph 2 says that no vehicle shall be operated on the highway unless the driver’s vision through any required glass equipment is normal and unobstructed. It is a Class A traffic infraction to be in violation of this part of CO Law. Class A traffic infractions in Colorado can come with a fine of between $15 and $100. From the fine lists we have seen for CO it appears that for a violation of 42-2-201 it is usually a $35 fine plus a $10 surcharge.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) rule 26710 of the CVC states that operation of a motor vehicle upon a highway is unlawful if the driver’s vision is impaired to either the front or rear, due to the defective condition of the windshield or rear window or both. If a cracked windshield leads to an inspection by an officer; the driver will be directed to fix the windshield to meet the requirements of Section 26710 within 48 hours. You can also be arrested and get a notice to appear in court with satisfactory evidence that the windshield has been suitably repaired or replaced to conform to the law.