Q: Those black tail lights are pretty stylish, but are they legal?
A: Nope. And they can land you a $136 ticket, according to Washington State Patrol Trooper Brooke Bova.
Bova, a public information officer for the State Patrol, tweeted about brake light covers last week, noting they’re illegal. They make it difficult to see when a driver is braking or signaling, especially at night, Bova said.
“Do your tail lights look like this?” she asked in her tweet, which displayed the back of a black Ford Mustang with black tail lights. “Did you know it’s not legal?!”
Bova said she recently was in a meeting with sergeants from the State Patrol and asked if they had any safety tips she and the other PIOs should share through social media.
“One of the sergeants said, ‘This drives me crazy. We’re getting a lot of near-collisions because of these black tail lights because people don’t see them,’ ” she said Friday.
“It’s a huge trend right now. It looks cool with the black cars and black tail lights. Usually they’ll remove the vehicle decal, the Chevy symbol or Ford symbol, so it’s just solid black.”
Bova described the black or tinted tail lights as aftermarket equipment that drivers can install, and cited several state laws that make their use illegal.
One state law relating to tail lamps says they “shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 1,000 feet to the rear.”
Bova said: “If you have black tail lights, especially at night, there’s no way that’s going to apply.”
Another state law on vehicle reflectors says the red portion of the tail light must be reflectorized, Bova said, adding that the black tail lights aren’t reflective.
“I was behind one yesterday and they turned on their blinker, and you could barely see it,” she said.
Yet another relevant state law says aftermarket equipment installed on a vehicle can’t impair the effectiveness of the equipment, Bova said.
Some who replied to Bova’s tweet had other questions about tint, such as how dark your windows can be tinted.
According to state law, in most cases, a tinted window must allow at least 24 percent of the light that hits the glass to come through.