In most instances, ignorance of the law is no defense, so it behooves you to be familiar with the laws of the land and the state of Arizona if you’re driving with a cracked or chipped windshield. Understanding the law of the land relative to windshields is a lot easier said than done. In the U.S., transportation safety is regulated by several different Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies and other Federal bureaus. There is the (NTSB) National Transportation Safety Board and the (NHTSA) National Highway Safety Administration, the (FMCSA) Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Roadway Safety. Those are just some of the agencies involved in automotive safety. Then there is the (FAA) the Federal Aviation Association, and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Railroad Safety for the airline and railroad industries.
We’ve delved through documents and regulations from each of the Department of Transportation automotive agencies and the Arizona Revised Statutes as published by the Arizona State Legislature in our search to make sure you are informed. In this article, we distill Federal and Arizona state lawfor you, saving you the drudgery and ensuring you know the pertinent regulations relating to windshield replacement in Arizona.
Arizona Leads the Nation in Windshield Replacement
If you’ve been driving in Arizona for long, you’ve probably experienced a chipped, cracked, or shattered windshield. After all, even though we’re fourteenth in the country in population, we lead the nation in auto glass repair. With its excessive heat, the Summer sun, and monsoons, our climate contributes to our windshield dilemma.So does theXeriscape landscaping along our roadways. Whothought decorating our roadways with rocks, pebbles, and gravel was a good idea?
So, the forces of nature have conspired against you, and you now have a cracked windshield. You’re wondering, is it safe to drive with a cracked windshield? Is it legal? Can I be ticketed? Will my insurance cover the expense of a repair or replacement?
To Ticket or Not to Ticket
We will answer each of your questions, but first, a bit of unsettling news. Due to the ambiguity regarding the legalities of windshield replacement in Arizona, any driver with a cracked windshield who is stoppedfaces a citationbased solely on the officer’s discretion as to the degree of obstruction. If the officer deems that windshield damage impedes the driver’s ability to see clearly,he may issue a citation,and you are subject to a fine. These fines vary throughout the state, as each county determines its own violation amounts.
Federal Laws Regarding Windshields
Within the myriad of government agencies, we discovered that the (NHTSA) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the organization responsible for keeping people safe on America’s roadways. They do so by settingsafety standards that apply to motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment.
NHTSA Standards Regarding Auto Glass
The agency issues Standards, such as Standard No. 212: Windshield Mounting, which establishes windshield retention requirements for motor vehicles during crashes.Other standards include:
- Standard No. 103: Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems
- Standard No. 104: Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems
- Standard No. 118: Power-Operated Window, Partition, and Roof Panel Systems
- Standard No. 219: Windshield Zone Intrusion
Finally, there is Standard No. 205: Glazing Materials – and degree of transparency. Standard 205 addresses driver visibility and states:
The windshield shall be free of discoloration or damage in the area extending upward from the top of the steering wheel (excluding a 2-inch border at the top of the windshield) and extending from a 1-inch border at each side of the windshield or windshield panel.
(1) Coloring or tinting which meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section.
(2) Any crack that is not intersected by any other cracks.
(3) Any damaged area which can be covered by a disc 3⁄4 inch in diameter if not closer than 3 inches to any other similarly damaged area.
Thus, we have the Federal Law regarding windshield replacement for your edification – “Any damaged area which can be covered by a disc ¾ inch in diameter, if not closer than 3 inches to any other similarly damaged area, that is not intersected by any other cracks.”
Why are we so concerned with making sure you know the Federal Law? Because Arizona law does not define when a windshield must be replaced beyond stating that the driver’s line of view cannot be obstructed or impeded. In Arizona, you must also comply with federal law relating to windshield replacement.
Arizona Statutes Relating to Windshields
Arizonahas laws relating to windshields, which you need to know, and yes, they focus (pun intended) on your ability to see clearly when driving. From the 2021 Arizona State Legislature:
Adequate windshields are required on
- All passenger vehicles, except motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles,or golf carts manufactured or modified before June 17, 1998.
- Any motor truck or truck tractor, except fire trucks, fire engines, or other fire apparatus, whether publicly or privately owned.
Safety glass required
- Section 28-959 of the Arizona Statutes states that, a person shall not sell, and the DMV shall not register a new motor vehicle as specified in this section unless the vehicle is equipped with safety glass wherever glass is used in doors, windows, and windshields.
- This section applies to passenger motor vehicles, other than golf carts, including passenger buses and school buses. For trucks, including truck tractors, the requirements of this section for safety glass apply to all glass used in doors, windows, and windshields in the drivers’ compartments of the vehicles.
- A person shall not replace glass or glazing materials used in partitions, doors, windows, windshields, or wind deflectors in a motor vehicle with a material other than safety glass.
Windshield wipers required
The windshield on a motor vehicle shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow, or other moisture from the windshield. The device shall be constructed in a manner to be controlled or operated by the driver of the vehicle.
Materials on windows or windshield
Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not operate a motor vehicle with an object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied on the windshield or side or rear windows or with an object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied in or on the motor vehicle in a manner that obstructs or reduces a driver’s clear view through the windshield or side or rear windows.
Vehicle and equipment inspection – notice of repair or adjustment
If at any time there is reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle is unsafe or is not equipped as required by law or that a vehicle’s equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, the superintendent of the highway patrol, members of the highway patrol, other officers and employees of the department of public safety as the director may designate and any peace officer may require the driver of the vehicle to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection and such test with reference to the inspection as may be appropriate.
Arizona Windshield Replacement Law
As stated, Arizona Windshield Replacement Law does not have “specific regulations” covering cracks or chips in the windshield. However, these would be addressed under the statutes that drivers cannot have anything attached or affixed to the windshield that prevents them from seeing clearly through the glass. Also, as stated, drivers are required to follow the federal regulations, to reiterate:
- If it has cracks that are intersected by one or more cracks, a windshield replacement is required.
- Chips, cracks, and other damage cannot be larger than ¾-inch in diameter.
- Areas of chips, cracks, and other damage cannot be within three inches of another area of damage on the windshield.
Other Arizona Windshield Laws
Arizona does allow window tint on the windshield, with certain provisions: The tint must be non-reflective andcannot impede the driver’s vision.Red tint is not permitted on the windshield or any other windows on the vehicle.
Windshield insurance: Even though it leads the nation in windshield replacements, Arizona is not one of the three states (Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina) that require insurance companies to pay the full cost of a windshield. However, in AZ, you may purchase comprehensive car insurance coverage with free windshield repairs and replacement and no deductible.